On April 26, Collingwood Town Council approved a pause in development to address drinking water capacity going forward.
An Interim Control By-law (ICBL) is a tool available to Ontario municipalities as part of the Planning Act that places a temporary “freeze” on specified types or locations of development while a municipality is studying or reviewing its land-use policies. Collingwood’s ICBL generally restricts development that does not already have a building permit. However, there are exemptions for projects that include decks, patios, fences, porches, accessory buildings or structures, temporary buildings or structures, or interior or exterior renovations to an existing building.
The Council meeting on April 26 contained impassioned comments predominantly issued from stakeholders and stakeholder representatives in the development industry. Questions were also raised regarding long term allocations from the Collingwood Water Treatment Plant to the Town of New Tecumseth and Town of the Blue Mountains.
In consideration of comments received, and recognition of the effects of this decision, Council directed Town staff to evaluate, review, and negotiate with the Town of New Tecumseth and the Town of the Blue Mountains to retain as much water capacity from those agreements as possible. Council further gave direction to simultaneously implement a Request for Proposals to expand capacity at the Water Treatment Plant, and to advance construction of a chlorine contact tank that will increase capacity.
Although the Land-Use Planning Policy Study contains public engagement at its core, Council has provided direction to staff to specifically pursue insight from the development community that may expedite resolutions of identified planning issues caused by the water capacity challenges, and potential exemptions to allow projects that are important to the community to continue. As well, Council gave direction to engage the engineering community to provide any expertise that might identify possible opportunities for capacity release in the near term.
“Council deliberated at length, and considered all the information provided by staff, our solicitors, the deputations this evening, and written submissions, before coming to a very difficult decision that we all know will have significant impacts in the community,” said Mayor Brian Saunderson. “However, the implications of not taking this pause on development were potentially much more severe. This is not our first choice, but we are in a situation that demands action.”
Although the Planning Act provides for an ICBL to be imposed without notice, to be transparent and open, especially regarding such important matters, Town Council opened the meeting to comments from any member of the public wishing to speak on the matter.
Town staff will immediately engage a Planning Consultant to carry out a Land-Use Planning Policy Study, which will include background research, further analysis of issues and challenges, public consultation, options analysis, and recommendations.
The study focus will include any required changes to the Town’s land use planning policies and/or regulatory framework resulting from water and wastewater servicing capacity limitations. Further, it will cover the Town’s role in the Provincial growth planning framework including (but not limited to):
- The implications of water and wastewater servicing constraints for growth management within the Town.
- Servicing and implementing policies both within the Official Plan and as they relate to the Town’s land-use planning policies.
- Reinforcing a regulatory framework and delivering upon the Town’s Community-based Strategic Plan.