Did you recently receive a letter from the Municipality of Clarington’s Planning Department?
The Council has consistently asked that affected rural landowners be notified with directly addressed letters that include maps showing how much of their land is now considered environmental protected (EP) and indicating what may or may not be done on the property.
At the Full Council Meeting on Monday, November 18th, the Acting Director of Planning responded to a question from Councillor Traill that the recent letters sent out to all rural land owners was not intended to meet the requirements for notifications asked for by Council members (You can see a copy of the letter below, or download a PDF by clicking here). Why then the need to send out a letter to 5500 rural land owners at the cost of $5000 now?
Councillor Trail went on to say, “This seems like a major error on the part of the Municipality because now we’ve got 5500 people who received a notice for Zone Clarington which isn’t happening, and yet the notice that was supposed to be sent out to the property owners that may have been affected is now not happening.” Later, she concluded, “It was a waste of $5000”.
The letter only adds to the confusion. Even though called an ‘Update’, it certainly does not enable us to fully understand recent events.
It says “The environmental features were partially mapped in the previous (1996) Official Plan and included policies that required protection of all environmental features from development.” The Official Plan is a creation of the Municipality, so the Municipality decided to protect ‘all’ environmental features. There is no Provincial policy or legal requirement that ‘all’ environmental features be protected.
Over the past 4 months, members of Council, our local MPPs and the public have asked staff to provide documents that specifically show why they decided to designate land as EP beyond those required by legislation or regulation. These documents have yet to be provided.
I encourage everyone not to be discouraged as we watch Clarington’s Mayor and other Councillors continue to vote against Motions put forward and supported by Councillors Joe Neal, Corinna Trail and Janice Jones. These Motions ask for a correction of Clarington’s Official Plan and mapping of environmentally protected lands (EP).
Currently the Motions put forward by Councillor Neal are asking that EP designations on Clarington’s mapping and in the Official Plan be limited to those required by Provincial policies and legislation.
This would seem to be a reasonable approach, but one that the majority of Clarington’s Councillors are refusing to consider.
Why? Why will those Councillors and the Planning Staff not support these Motions and respond to the many letters and delegations made at public Council meetings? What is their motivation to vote against correcting the mapping and Official Plan?
We have been encouraging land owners to speak to their local Councillor, however it concerns me when it is reported that some Councillors are not willing to speak to Clarington citizens about this important issue. Is this not why they were elected, to listen to your concerns and respond to your views?
The Councillors have been instructed by Clarington’s Planning to refer you to the Zone Clarington team in the town hall. The staff has to date demonstrated that they are not following Council’s instructions.
The most recent example of this is the instructions given by Council that letters to landowners should be presented to Council before being sent out. The letter received lately was sent out without the knowledge of Council members. This is a blatant example of staff ignoring the instructions of Council.
Rather than assisting, informing and advising Council members regarding Councillor Neal’s Motions, the staff have taken the position that they should decide how to proceed.
On one occasion, the staff put forward 3 options for Council to consider. When Councillor Neal put forward a Motion based on one of the options, the staff responded by saying it was not an option that staff could support. Why then did they include it as an option for Council’s consideration? The Planning staff were not elected and should be supporting and following the instructions of Council, our elected representatives.
We suggest you continue to approach your local Councillor to express your concerns and ask why they have decided to take the position they have taken to address your concerns. Ask for some accountability for their stand on correcting the map, proper notification to all affected land owners and why would they support mapping that includes more EP designated land than required by Provincial legislation or policies.
Our group, Rezoning Clarington, has met with the Provincial Minister and the Chair of the Region of Durham We will continue to meet with concerned landowners, relevant organizations, and make delegations at Council Committee and Full Council meetings.
We understand that Councillor Neal may be introducing his Motion once again at the Planning Committee Meeting on Dec. 2nd. Please consider writing a letter to Council or making a delegation at that meeting asking for more accountability and attending that meeting on December 2nd at 7 pm.
You can see the letter below, or download a PDF to print by clicking here