This is just a short post on last night’s special meeting of council.

Last night’s meeting focused on two last-minute requests for zoning designation changes in the Town’s Official Plan. The first of these was the change of a single property from Commercial to Residential. That item was not controversial and was approved by Council without any discussion. I guess this means the property cannot be sold as a commercial property or used for ‘commercial’ purposes. The change seems consistent with it’s current use and the neighbourhood.

The second change garnered much more discussion and three deputations (including one by me). The issue concerned a last minute request to revise the Official Plan designation of property on the east side of Louisa Street, just north of the Starbucks/Canadian Tire gas bar, from Industrial to Commercial. The intention is to develop this property for commercial use, presumably shops and services, over a period of years. There are no plans to start anything now.

The prospect of new development was welcomed by Council and those who made deputations. The issue for some, including me, was that this was a change to the Official Plan that was not going through the proscribed review process involving the town and residents. It struck me as ‘hot wiring’ the process of review and approval.

In the end Council chose to delay the submission of the Official Plan to permit the appropriate review process for the industrial to commercial zoning change. This may mean a three-month delay in submitting the Final Official Plan. The property will still need to go through the usual rezoning and permitting processes. Including the change in the Draft Official Plan only ensures there is no conflict between the Official Plan and local zoning that would require a later application to the province for an amendment (apparently a not very simple process).

Progress and Process working together. Seems like a win-win to me.

Parry Sound in Black and White. (June 2013)