LEAR Review, Coach Houses and More

[ 0 ] November 25, 2016 |
Photo by cwwycoff1

Photo by cwwycoff1

November 23, 2016

Re: File Number: ACS2016-PIE-PGM-0183 Official Plan Amendment 2016

On behalf of the Carleton Landowners Association (CLA), I would like to extend my thanks to Councillor Scott Moffatt for attending our Board meeting on November 14th. The information provided at the meeting was helpful in clarifying many of our questions on a variety of topics, including the LEAR Review.

Over the past couple of months, the CLA and its members have been met with a number of challenging reports from the City of Ottawa, including the Stormwater Rate Review, the Coach Houses, the LEAR Review, and to a lesser extent, the Mid Term Governance Review.

Managing and responding to the legislative and reporting requirements imposed by the province is not easy. Over the past ten or so years, this burden has become increasingly onerous not only to municipal staff and councilors but especially to residents. City staff works hard to provide the information that residents need to understand the reports and processes that residents have to follow.

One of the most troubling aspects of the process is the apparent requirement for a person or public body to make a submission at a Committee meeting on a matter in order to be able to appeal a decision at the Ontario Municipal Board. Many people do not know what an Official Plan Amendment is let alone what impact it can have on their rights to use their land. I would guess that most residents would be unaware of the need to make a submission in order to appeal a decision to designate their land in a particular way. This practice reminds me of the negative billing option used by cable companies in the 1990’s. The practice was outlawed in Canada in 1999 and in Ontario in 2005. As more people become aware of this requirement, it may have an unintended consequence: that of having residents make submissions on any number of matters “au cas où”. There must be a better way as this practice makes no sense to me. There was no mention of this requirement in the first letter sent to rural landowners. It appears that this information was only available to those who went online and signed up for updates.

Many of our members are farmers or rural property owners. We are strongly in favour of protecting rural land for agriculture. We would though, like to see some flexibility in the Official Plan Amendment 2016 which would allow exceptions to the broad designation of Agricultural Resource Area. In 1992, prior to amalgamation, my family applied to have two lots severed from our farm in West Carleton. Our request was approved, provided that the lots were located on a strip of marginal land along the roadway. I am not sure, with the current broad designation, if a similar application would be successful. Two recommendations arise from discussions at our meeting:

Ensure that there is more granularity in the designations, e.g. areas of wooded lands, aggregates, or similar areas unsuited to agriculture are not included in the Agricultural Resource Areas.
Allow some flexibility in the Official Plan so that there is the potential for a property owner to have a parcel of land evaluated by an agronomist and if found to be unsuited to agriculture, to permit severance.

Lastly, I would like to comment on the notification and public consultation process. I do understand that it is a challenge for staff to respond to the legislative and reporting requirements imposed by the Province., in a timely manner. I would though recommend that the City be sensitive to the fact that the terminology in their reports can sometimes be challenging and lead to confusion and concern. The City should also consider that information posted on their website does not automatically mean that it is available. I received a number of emails and phone calls from members and non-members wondering what the letter was all about and whether their designation had changed, and if it had, what did it mean. I tried several times to download the supporting document 1 Draft Official Plan Amendment 2016. No luck!

Best Regards
Shirley Dolan, President
Carleton Landowners Association

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