There has been much discussion of the reason for the hold-up of the approval of the town’s official plan.
It was a promise by all candidates in the 2018 election campaign that it would be a priority, but once it was completed and sent to the region, it seemed stuck in limbo. No more, says Lord Mayor Betty Disero.
The reason given for the delay was that the regional official plan first had to be approved by the province, and late Friday, the region was notified that had been done.
“The Niagara Official Plan (NOP) is a new official plan adopted by Regional Council in June 2022,” the email to the town said. “The NOP, as adopted and approved, outlines a comprehensive land use policy framework to guide growth and development within the Region to the year 2051.”
As expected there were some modifications made by the province, as a result of provincial consultations, “which focus on clarifying matters rather than substantive changes,” the email said. “At a high level these policy modifications were in regards to natural environment and goods movement policies.”
The decision is final, and there are no appeals.
This approval of the Niagara Official Plan helps the region prepare for the anticipated population of 694,000 people and 272,000 jobs by 2051, said the email from Ann-Marie Norio, the regional clerk.
“Through the new Niagara Official Plan and working with our local area municipalities, the approval helps us provide more housing and jobs for the Niagara Region.”
There has been some question of how the province would deal with increased density requirements, and whether the region and municipalities could choose where those higher densities would be located, as long as targets are met.
For example, in NOTL, it has been discussed that increased density might not be necessary in the Old Town, if other areas, such as Glendale, are targeted instead.
That the province didn’t question that shifting of densities in the regional plan bodes well for NOTL, says Disero.
With the “top layer” of planning provided by the Official Plan, the town can continue working on amending its bylaws that address issues such as setbacks and contextual zoning, says Disero.