The highlight of last night's council meeting was staff's report on the proposed Provincial Policy Statement. The report was prepared by Ms. Dreher and Ms. Harrison in King's Planning Department and they did an outstanding job of analyzing the proposal and outlining what the impact might be on King. Here's the link to the video of last night's proceedings, but remember that it will only be live for two weeks.
• The Nobleton Victoria Day & 173rd Schomberg Agricultural Fairs - two outstanding weekends to showcase King at its finest where everybody at both events had an amazing time. As always, our Firefighters did magnificent fireworks for Victoria Day and there were record breaking attendance days at the Schomberg Fair. To all the volunteers, clubs and staff that worked on this, a heartfelt thank you!
• YorkNet Expansion Project - This will help close the digital divide and help provide high-speed internet to every corner of York Region. The large-scale expansion received financial support from both federal and provincial goverments through the Universal Broadband Funds. Residents may have questions about what this means for them and the timing of when they can expect to have access to high-speed internet - looking at you Ward 3! To provide more information, YorkNet is hosting a Community Information Session June 13 from 7-9pm at the King Township Municipal Centre. SEE YOU THERE!
• Lloydtown Aurora Rd Improvements - York Region is making improvements to the Lloydtown-Aurora Rd from Jane to Dufferin including removal and replacement of asphalt surfaces, installation of large culvert, and the removal and replacement of guardrails. The road will be closed from July 4th to August 12th.
• King City Craft Beer & Food Truck Festival - Saturday June 10th - Join us for non-stop entertainment, a variety of food trucks and craft beer sampling! 12:00pm to 9:00pm at Memorial Park - 25 Doctors Lane. https://www.kingcraftbeerandfood.com/
• Certificate of Appreciation to Citizens of Township of King and its Leadership - A certificated of appreciation was received from the Masonic Grand Lodge of Ukraine "In recognition of your extensive support assisting Ukrainian refugees seeking safety in Canada from the Russian war of genocide, and supporting so many people under distress, with an extraordinary humanitarian attitude of Faith, Hope and Charity." ukrmason.org
• Township of King Receives Distinguished Budget Presentation Award from Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) for the Second Year in a Row
1) King Staff Comment on Proposed Provincial Policy Statement (PPS)
As with staff’s response to previous provincial initiatives, I continue to be impressed with their analysis, commentary and suggestions. The entire report is fascinating reading and clearly outlines what the province is considering and what those implications are for King Township.
The agenda package included staff's earlier comments on Bill 97, but the bulk of the report presented in last night's agenda was on the PPS and its many ramifications. Though the province hasn't yet provided all the information, staff highlighted ten key areas the proposal will affect based on what information is available.
I've included the link to the complete report below which I highly recommend that you read so you have a full understand the entire context. Staff's comments are so excellent, however, that I've chosen to provide brief excerpts from each of the key areas they identified.
1. Local Official Plans and the Role of York Region (Municipal Comprehensive Reviews)
"Staff are supportive of the Province’s goal to provide more housing, however, providing housing for all Ontarians should not come at the expense of the natural environment, employment, and socio-cultural matters, including affordable housing. In order to support the sustainable evolution of the Township and development of complete communities, Planning Staff are of the opinion that the proposed 2023 PPS vision and policies should be revised to provide more policies that support natural heritage protection, climate change mitigation and adaption, employment growth, affordable housing development, and support intensification in locally appropriate areas. Land supply alone is not sufficient to solve the issue of affordable housing"
2. Complete Communities, Density and Intensification Targets
"At the municipal level, developing and defending intensification targets, without a mandatory policy direction [from the province] may be challenging if there is community resistance to intensification. The policies would appear to encourage the redevelopment of existing commercial and institutional uses rather than intensifying existing residential areas in appropriate locations. The potential loss of non-residential lands and lost opportunities to encourage varied housing forms and densities would be detrimental towards developing complete communities as envisioned by the Township’s Official Plan."
3. Strategic Growth and Major Transit Station Area (MTSA)
"The approach to strategic growth areas, MTSAs and large and fast-growing municipalities should be further reviewed by the Province as the proposed changes create a patchwork approach towards growth management across the Province and between adjacent municipalities, allowing for them to develop on an ad hoc basis that promotes unmanaged growth and sprawl. The broadening of where housing can be located and how housing is provided may leave future residents with fewer community amenities and supportive services, and only considers the short-term rather than considering longer-term planning horizons."
4. Settlement Area Boundary Expansions
"The tests that are proposed to be applied to settlement area boundary expansions are proposed to be made less stringent and require fewer considerations. The proposed amendments do not identify any limitation on the ability of landowners from applying for an expansion, however there are currently no amendments proposed to the Planning Act that would provide for appeals to refusals or non-decisions on applications that propose settlement area boundary expansions. Staff request clarification of this from the Province
based on the current language in the Planning Act. With the proposed removal of planning
responsibilities from upper-tier municipalities it is unclear whether the approval authority for settlement area boundary expansions is the lower-tier municipality or the Minister. It is also unclear as to whether the policies of A Place to Grow that prevent settlement area boundary expansions within the Greenbelt Area will continue to apply through the proposed changes."
5. Employment Land and Conversions
"The Township spent a considerable amount of time participating in and considering employment land conversions through York Region’s MCR process. The proposed 2023 PPS could be enhanced to support the economic competitiveness and financial sustainability of municipalities by revising the policies to allow the removal of employment lands only though a municipally initiated official plan review (which takes place every 5 to 10 years), and not through privately initiated applications at any time during the planning horizon."
6. Agricultural Areas
UPDATE: In addition to staff's comments on the proposed PPS below, Bill 97 had a section that would have allowed for rural lot severances on agricultural land which would have further fragmented Ontario's farming community. Councillor Eek and I both shared this concern with MPP Stephen Lecce as well as Lisa Thompson, Minister of Agriculture and they took it to the Premier who has now changed course. A letter was issued yesterday to the Ontario Farmers Association, who worked with a dozen agriculture associations against the proposal, noting that the government will NOT be moving forward with rural lot severances on the basis of wanting to protect farms, especially family farming.
"The 2023 PPS also proposes changes to general policies related to prime agricultural areas. This includes a change that instead of a Provincially mapped agricultural system, municipalities are encouraged to use an agricultural systems approach based on Provincial guidance. The loss of Provincially initiated mapping and identification of categories of agricultural land will result in municipalities having to undertake the works and assessment themselves. With the proposed changes to upper-tier municipalities proposed to come into effect in winter 2024, these changes will increase costs to municipalities and will result in challenges for municipalities to undertake these assessments and land use categorizations without assistance from upper levels of government. The changes may also impact how agricultural lands are classified between municipalities and may promote inconsistency. However, the changes do allow for the municipality to exercise some discretion in determine agricultural lands in accordance with local circumstances."
7. Climate Change
"... the changes in Provincial direction in respect to the removal of density and intensification targets conflict with the objectives for climate change as envisioned in the Provincial policies. Staff recommend that the Province retain the policies related to intensification and density targets to encourage housing and redevelopment in proximity to services and to discourage unmanaged growth and sprawl. [...]
Staff also recommend including the policies from A Place to Grow that support the achievement of complete communities, recognize the importance of watershed planning and protecting the natural heritage system and water resource systems, promote local food and protect the agricultural land base to ensure that municipalities are undertaking a comprehensive and responsive approach to climate change."
8. Natural Heritage
"It is unclear what, if any, changes to policies related to the natural heritage and the natural heritage system will be as the proposed policies have not yet been released for review. Staff highlight that streamlining the review of development applications to encourage the increase of housing supply should not come at the expense of environmental protection, natural heritage preservation and biodiversity. Staff encourage the Province to include policies in the 2023 PPS that continue to prevent or limit encroachment from urban development into the natural heritage system. Staff also request that the Province not proceed with any changes to the PPS and A Place to Grow until the proposed natural heritage policies are released to allow for their review in conjunction with the proposed changes."
9. Alignment with the Greenbelt Plan
As the draft amendment to the Greenbelt Plan has not been released by the Province it is difficult to determine if there will be impacts to the relationship between the Greenbelt Plan and the new PPS. [...]
It is unclear how the policies identified above will continue to apply within the Greenbelt Area if A Place to Grow is repealed entirely. Staff recommend that should the Province wish to proceed with the 2023 PPS that the implementation of the document and necessary legislative amendments be delayed until the draft Greenbelt Plan amendments are released to allow for a comprehensive comparative analysis and review to occur."
10. Cultural Heritage
"The policy direction of the proposed 2023 PPS indicates that only “designated” properties and landscapes shall be conserved. Non-designated properties (i.e., Listed properties) with potential cultural heritage value or interest in the process of evaluation and review will have no further consideration for conservation until they are designated. The proposed PPS 2023 should be enhanced by adding non-designated properties to the definition of “protected heritage property” to ensure that these excluded properties are acknowledged and recognized as important cultural heritage resources worthy of conservation."
2) Installation of Stop Signs at Various Locations
I'm pleased to see the needs of farmers being addressed with new stops signs being installed in the Holland Marsh. I'm also happy to report that staff are currently studying whether the intersection of the 11th and 19th warrants the same consideration. I've heard from many farmers along that stretch of the 11th of dangerous passing around tractors. In addition, I understand that our own snowplows have difficulty turning off the west side of the 19th onto the 11th because their blades extend so far in front of the truck that they can’t see the intersection properly to make a safe turn... especially dangerous with vehicles travelling well over the speed limit.
In addition, they are also studying the same scenario at the 10th and 15th where there was a truck rollover just last week.
The report on these studies will be presented to council in September.
Ward 1 - Councillor Cescolini asked staff to provide the framework for new community safety zones around King Township. He also asked that staff evaluate which areas around the township might suit these new guidelines.
Ward 2 - Councillor Boyd thanked staff and volunteers for a phenomenal Nobleton Victoria Day celebration.
Ward 4 - Councillor Asselstine noted that the Dufferin Marsh Bird Group identified several species of birds on an early morning get together on May 28th. The group is just getting started and is part of King's new certification as a bird friendly community. To learn more visit www.DufferinMarsh.ca
Ward 5 - Councillor Schaefer noted that the King Heritage & Culture Centre is hosting its first art exhibit in recognition of Pride Season. "You Do You" will run June 3 to August 12, 2023 and opening night is June 2nd.
Ward 6 - Councillor Eek noted that for those that like to go to farmers markets, YorkFarmFresh.com has just launched their new 2023 maps. The York Farm Fresh Multilingual App features the 39 Farms and 8 Farmers’ Markets listed in the York Farm Fresh Guide Map. In addition to the English version it is translated into 7 languages. Visit www.YorkFarmFresh.com for more.