The Municipality of Grey Highlands has begun work on a brand new zoning bylaw.
Grey Highlands council held a special committee of the whole meeting on May 9 to review a first draft of the new bylaw. The session was held to give members of council the opportunity to ask questions and seek clarification on issues before an extensive public consultation process on the new zoning bylaw begins.
Grey Highlands manager of planning Matt Rapke made a lengthy presentation at the meeting outlining the reasons for the new zoning bylaw, the goals and objectives of the new bylaw and the major changes that will be considered during the process the municipality has started.
“This is a draft,” Rapke told council at the start of the meeting. “This document has a massive impact on the functioning of the economy and private property rights.”
The current Grey Highlands zoning bylaw was approved in 2004 and came into full force in 2006. It has not been updated for close to two decades and now has significant compliance issues with the provincial Planning Act and the local and Grey County official plans.
“We have a pretty old bylaw,” said Rapke. “It doesn’t permit a lot of stuff the official plan permits.”
Rapke said the zoning bylaw process will feature plenty of public engagement. He envisions a series of meetings over a period of time to give residents of Grey Highlands an opportunity to provide feedback on the proposed new zoning bylaw and the changes being considered.
“People can raise their concerns and opinions and council will ultimately decide,” said Rapke. “This is the time everybody gets to engage pretty heavily. (Council is) going to make some tough decisions.”
At the meeting, council chose not to ask staff to make any changes to the draft bylaw, preferring to wait until after the public has been consulted.
Rapke said the objectives of the new bylaw are: incorporate planning act amendments, comply with official plans and the provincial policy statement, add definition clarity, delete unnecessary definitions, clarify how the bylaw should be applied and amended, create an understandable document, upzone where possible, downzone where necessary, simplify where possible, allow for flexibility to ensure adaptability, resilience, productivity, and inclusiveness, enable walkability, accept uncertainty, improve the effectiveness, efficiency and fairness of the planning system—eliminate redundant applications and balance property rights with public interest.
The draft bylaw does propose significant changes to a number of areas including: an overhaul of the zones in the bylaw, and overall of the definitions, deletion of site plan control references, allowing fourplexes as-of-right, additional dwelling units, accessory buildings, home industries as-of-right, home business uses, resource based recreation, renewable energy, Minimum Distance Separation applicability, holding provisions and parking.
Rapke’s full presentation to council outlining the changes and the reasons they are being proposed can be found here.
“It’s very interesting. There’s lots to talk about and there’s lots to read,” said Coun. Paul Allen at the conclusion of the meeting.
The next steps in the process included the creation of a dedicated web page to enable the public to stay fully up-to-date about the process. In addition, open houses and public meetings will be held in the near future.