As we enter into a new year, Rezoning Clarington is continuing to work for the landowners in rural Clarington.
Recently, the Mayor’s letter to Minister Clarke, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, dated September 17, 2019, and the Minister’s response to Mayor Foster, received on January 10, 2010, are at the centre of the controversy at Municipal Council.
It is important that the facts in those letters be discussed. I have underlined and highlighted key words and phrases.
In his letter to the Minister, Mayor Foster indicated that there was strong opposition to the implementation of policies that protect Clarington’s natural heritage system. He says that, “Staff have worked diligently to speak and meet with rural property owners to answer their questions……and to dispel misinformation.”
The Mayor goes on to say, “A primary element of the requests made by the landowners group is to revisit the Clarington Official Plan and repeal natural heritage policies that implement the Provincial Policy Statement (PPS), Greenbelt Plan and Oak Ridges Moraine Plan.
In fact, the Mayor has chosen to misinform the Minister as Rezoning Clarington has not been asking to have any Provincial policies or legislation repealed.
Rezoning Clarington has been asking the Municipality to (a) correct errors on their Official Plan mapping, (b) adopt a base map that includes only provincially mandated environmentally protected lands and (c) identify and provide a rationale for the additional land added by the Municipality.
We have been supporting Councillor Neal’s efforts for such a map as well as an opportunity for planning staff to show where and why Clarington has added more environmentally protected land than required by the Province.
In Minister Clarke’s response to Mayor Foster’s letter, the Minister states,
“The lands brought into the EP Zone in Clarington include lands that are identified by the province as Greenbelt and NHS as well as additional lands that the province has not required to be zoned EP. Municipalities are permitted to go beyond provincial standards and Clarington has made a policy decision to do that despite local opposition.”
We believe that the Minister is very clear in his response to the Mayor.
The Minister says that the decision to include land beyond what is required by the Province was Clarington’s decision.
At the full Council Meeting on Monday January 20th, the Mayor indicated that staff is going back to the Minister with more questions.
What more does the planning staff and the Council need? The Minister has said Clarington has met the Provincial requirements regarding the Greenbelt and NHS, the decision to go beyond that was Clarington’s and the Minister will not interfere in that decision.
The Minister’s response will be discussed at the February 24th meeting of the Planning Committee. Plan to be there!
A couple of other points in this Update, although the staff have agreed to remove the 30 metre buffer zone and 90 metre environmental review area from the map. It will still be in the written portion of the Official Plan.
The Planning staff have also begun work on the requests for site visits.
Please make your request for a site visit if you are concerned with the expansion of EP zoning onto your property and don’t understand why.