After several readings of the article Motion to halt development in natural core areas receives cool reception on the front page of the October 8, 2020 edition of The Picton Gazette, I was left with serious questions and concerns.
Does the Prince Edward County Planning Department follow the direction of development as set down in the current Official Plan and the 2014 Secondary Plan? Or, does the Planning Department, possibly assuming the draft Official Plan will be endorsed and passed by Council, work with developers using the new plan?
Both Mayor Ferguson and Councillor St. Jean understand the process. Mayor Ferguson uses the term ‘ethically dubious’ and has ‘a great deal of difficulty changing the rules midstream’ when referring to the defeated interim bylaw. Councillor St. Jean argues that ‘the rules outlined in the current Official Plan need to be followed, as opposed to following those of the draft plan’. Indeed Councillor Hirsch is correct in pointing out that Council is ‘being asked to approve more and more major planning applications … being filed in order to get ahead of implementation of the new OP’.
Concerns and questions about which plan to follow are legitimate. Members of Staff and members of Council need answers. Otherwise, they find themselves in a muddle while trying to deal with applications that are testing the waters during this period between the current and draft Official Plans. Additionally they are faced with time pressures while dealing with the sheer number of current development applications.
Ambiguous situations such as these can present opportunistic developers the chance to push through unsound development plans that fall short of the standards that our beautiful community of Prince Edward County needs and deserves.
Clearly the direction that Councillor St. Jean proposes – simply follow the current Official Plan – would certainly make the work of Staff and Council fairer to all involved.
Wendy J. LeBlanc