Niagara-on-the-Lake might spend extra money in hopes of completing the town’s new official plan.
And Lord Mayor Betty Disero says the town will not heed a provincial suggestion that municipalities hit the pause button on some major planning decisions.
On Monday night, the committee of the whole approved allocating additional funding toward the completion of the official plan, which has not been fully revised since 1994.
The cost for doing extra work on the plan is $45,820. That’s in addition to the initial estimate of $54,000 to $56,000 before disbursements and HST, approved by council in February 2018.
A staff report said there will be no impact on the budget as the money would come from development charges, corporate studies and the Ontario Municipal Board reserves.
Some of the extra work that has to be done includes meeting with the agricultural committee and other stakeholders, preparing a summary of comments with recommendations, revising policies and mapping, responding to regional comments and preparing a final plan for adoption.
“Staff is of the opinion that the additional tasks and revised budget accurately reflects the necessary work involved in consulting with and responding to concerns addressed by the public and commenting agencies,” the report says.
NOTL has received over 115 comments and due to “complexity of issues, volume of submissions and outstanding comments,” it won’t be possible to have a special council meeting on April 15 to discuss the official plan, according to the staff report.
The town needs to be ready with the official plan when the provincial government makes changes to its development approval process, Lord Mayor Betty Disero told The Lake Report.
“There’s lots of work to do,” Disero said in a phone interview last week. “If we stop everything and do nothing, then we’re going to have another six months of work later on. I want to be ready when any provincial announcements come out.”
The town received a letter in February from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing. As Ontario is planning to “streamline the development of approvals system,” Minister Steve Clark encouraged town council to consider taking “an interim pause on some planning decisions.”
Disero’s reply, released on the town’s website on March 28, states NOTL will continue to move forward with the official plan despite the province’s suggestions.
“I want to be ready when any provincial announcements come out,” said Disero. “I don’t want to start redoing the whole thing again.”