Official plan should do more for County’s youth

I wish to congratulate the staff and political leaders who worked so hard on the PEC Official Plan .

It is a most comprehensive document– but I have several comments about sections that need much greater emphasis and elaboration.

Let me preface my remarks by saying our family have been residents here for 15 years (we built a winterized cottage here, built largely by County contractors).

While we have lived here for 15 years, we have not enjoyed the frenetic last year of condo proposals / building / disruption in the County. I agree with Sec 2.2(c) In the Official Plan about the important issues of concern for the County, particulary its declining & aging population and the need to attract young families to locate in the County.

However quite the opposite is occurring in the County housing market. New expensive housing and condominium development in the County are at absolute record highs this year for wealthy customers from Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal. County housing stocks are already stressed with STA’s and very dramatically rising house prices. This kind of development does not help the people of the County.

Where is the County and Provincial leadership on this matter of providing affordable /protected housing — rather than politicians being dazzled by one- time developers ?

The Official Plan makes excellent recommendations that I believe deserve much more elaboration- namely: Sec 3.2.3 Economic Development (15) to attract young professionals, promote partnerships, co-op education , partnerships with post secondary institutions etc.; (16) develop more affordable housing to attract young homeowners and (17) establish high speed internet. These topics deserve a whole section in the Official Plan.

Why does the Official Plan not propose specific and strategic education alliances with the Catholic , public and French language school boards, and with Loyalist College & Queen’s University? These organizations have immense financial networks, expertise and contacts. As a start, it is very common in school boards in Peel and York Region to combine resources to create joint athletic, library, and recreational facilities in school boards that serve both students and the municipal community.

Why not here ? Why is the County not exploring satellite campuses in the County to support college, university and apprenticeship alliances to support the families of the County?

In a word, while tuition costs some $5,500 per student yearly– that cost jumps to some $20,000 / year when you factor in travel and accommodation / year living away from home. In a word, you have an $80,000 debt when you graduate.

Premier Robarts and Education Minister Bill Davis oversaw Ontario’s rapid province- wide expansion of colleges/ universities in the 1960’s. What is the province doing today in the year 2020 to support post secondary educational/ training opportunities for youth and adult learners specifically for the County?

In a word–I urge the County and Province to dig deep into its expertise and finances to create a future for the youth and adults of the County. We do not have to resort to condo developments and estate homes for our future.

We need to concentrate on the economic multiplier impacts for the County and those investments that keep on multiplying economic benefits- namely focusing on youth, education, broadband internet, affordable housing and developing a highly skilled workforce.

Furthermore, is the County partnering with other provincial educational institutions like the University of Guelph ( agriculture ) or Niagara College ( wineries ) to establish educational/ coop programs here to promote long term economic growth / apprenticeship / workforce expertise here in the County ?

I urge County and provincial political leaders to make this historic pivot to invest deeply in local education and human resources for a steady and prosperous County future— not condos or estate houses.These building projects don’t serve the long term interests of the County.

Brian O’Sullivan

North Marysburgh