LETTER: OP information intake process failed residents

I want to thank Cheryl Anderson for taking the time to read and to respond to my Letter to the Editor re: Official Plan lacking vision.

Unfortunately, I don’t believe she understood my position.

While I don’t believe that the OP has protected our environment enough to prevent development in sensitive areas, Ms. Anderson believes that having included the requirement for an “Environmental Impact Study” to be done, prior to approval, will protect these areas. I firmly believe they will not – just more useless bureaucracy that developers will use to prove their case! While I applaud her and her group’s attempts at protecting “11 Natural Core Areas” – this interest alone makes up only a small portion of the Official Plan. Have issues such as Picton’s water supply or air quality been addressed – or what does the OP do when development destroys a person’s well? How does the OP address the need to attract more families, with kids to keep our schools open? Does the OP have a solution for improving public access to the Picton Harbour and waterfront? All these are important issues too – and the public have not had a proper opportunity to address them! Does this new OP address controlling tourism?

I stated that it was unfair to the public for Council to deal with the OP during a pandemic. The Official Plan process has “languished” for 10 years gathering dust at Shire Hall – so why rush it now? The purpose of the OP process is to gather community input to assist in our future planning. Can anyone ensure that the comments gathered over the last ten years were even heard or included in this last draft of the OP? From her comments, Ms. Anderson seems to feel that the only meaningful comments were those gathered over 4 months between November/20 to February/21 – and anyone who missed that time frame can comment again at the next OP review in 2023! I find Ms. Anderson’s position to be one of personal convenience.

In my original letter, I also questioned Council’s reliance on the County’s weak internet service. It is the only means by which the public can view this process – this last meeting took over 5 hours! Ms. Anderson and council obviously didn’t believe this to be a problem, but I bet many did! This is a process for the public – not only for business, developers, and special interest groups.

In her letter, Ms. Anderson explains how she and her friends met with town staff (over four years) to talk about their concerns, and as she points out, so did business people and developers meet in small groups individually with the planners. If only the public had such attention paid on them! Most people do not have the time nor the desire to meet privately – they want a meeting to go to with information in their hands and to have their questions answered – this didn’t happen! In my opinion, the process failed the public.

From filling out surveys to questionnaires, the public in PEC have taken part in these efforts faithfully, only to be let down and ignored! Sorry, an online meeting to approve the most important document this Council will deal with doesn’t cut it – it is a bush league approach!

For Ms. Anderson to write in defense of this OP process, that lacked real public involvement, in the hope of having people believe it will guide us well over the years ahead, is simply wishful thinking – and totally unrealistic.

Dennis Fox