PSWs get a sec­ond look at MNBP’s spe­cial council meet­ing

Wiarton Echo - - NEWS - ZOE KESSLER Ed­i­tor

Fol­low­ing a spe­cial council meet­ing in Lion’s Head, Nov. 3, a new draft zon­ing by­law for the Mu­nic­i­pal­ity of North­ern Bruce Penin­sula is now on­line at the Bruce County web­site.

The draft doc­u­ment was posted by Ja­cob Van Dorp, senior plan­ner for Bruce County, for re­view prior to a pub­lic meet­ing in Tober­mory Dec. 2, where the pub­lic will again have the op­por­tu­nity to have in­put into the process, which be­gan ear­lier this year.

“We’ll lis­ten on the 2nd again and council will de­ter­mine where we head from there,” Mayor Milt McIver said in a tele­phone in­ter­view. There is no fixed dead­line for the new zon­ing by­law to be passed.

A mem­ber of the pub­lic at the Nov. 3 spe­cial council meet­ing re­quested council ex­pe­dite its dis­cus­sion about Provin­cially Sig­nif­i­cant Wet­lands (PSWs), to which council agreed.

Van Dorp said rather than talk about two op­tions, as he had at the Oct. 10 pub­lic meet­ing in Lion’s Head, he was go­ing to present “op­por­tu­ni­ties” in deal­ing with PSW zones. This ap­proach fol­lowed on the heels of a meet­ing be­tween Van Dorp and the Min­istry of Nat­u­ral Re­sources and Forestry (MNRF).

At the Oct. 10 meet­ing, two op­tions for map­ping PSWs were pre­sented: map­ping the bound­aries as given by the MNRF or clip­ping the bound­aries of the PSW zone to the haz­ard layer newly mapped by the Grey Sauble Con­ser­va­tion Au­thor­ity (GSCA).

Van Dorp said the min­istry had told him its PSW map­ping for prop­er­ties in the Stokes Bay area was in­ac­cu­rate. The min­istry un­der­took to cor­rect this, but as of Nov. 10 he hadn’t yet re­ceived the re­vised lines.

How­ever, a clus­ter of prop­er­ties in Stokes Bay would have a “bet­ter line” for its PSWs after the ad­just­ment, he said.

A sec­ond op­por­tu­nity would be to rec­og­nize ex­ist­ing de­vel­op­ment by tak­ing the area the GSCA didn’t rec­og­nize as haz­ards out of the EHPSW zone, he said. A third op­por­tu­nity arose from the MNRF say­ing their map­ping is con­cep­tual and in­tended to be re­fined.

“Con­cep­tual means that the bound­ary is in­tended to show roughly where it is with the in­tent that it be re­fined fur­ther,” he said.

Council de­cided, given this in­for­ma­tion, to re­duce the amount of land within PSW zones in ar­eas where the MNRF has noted in­ac­cu­ra­cies. It will also “go around” ex­ist­ing lots of record where pos­si­ble.

Cur­rently, a zon­ing by­law amend­ment is re­quired un­der the Plan­ning Act in or­der to change any of the PSW zon­ing.

“So the third op­por­tu­nity would be to say that the chief build­ing of­fi­cial as the zon­ing ad­min­is­tra­tor can rein­ter­pret that EH-PSW bound­ary if she gets a let­ter from the MNR that says that’s fine on a go-for­ward ba­sis,” Van Dorp said.

“We do that now in terms of other haz­ards, we don’t do it in terms of the PSW be­cause they’re not [cur­rently] in the by­law,” he said.

If the MNRF dis­agrees with a re­quested change, then the PSW bound­ary will stay where it is.

“The chal­lenge the MNR has is they have one per­son in charge of all of Grey and Bruce Coun­ties to han­dle all of th­ese re­quests,” Van Dorp said.

“The MNR has al­most no re­sources be­yond that one per­son.”

An al­ter­na­tive would be for a res­i­dent to hire a wet­land eval­u­a­tor cer­ti­fied un­der the On­tario Wet­land Eval­u­a­tion Sys­tem and sub­mit a re­quest to change the bound­ary to the MNRF.

Once a trained per­son goes out to iden­tify a bound­ary, the MNR will take a look at it and agree to it or not, Van Dorp said.

The MNRF has the map­ping com­pleted by the GSCA for the mu­nic­i­pal­ity, Van Dorp said.

“And they’ve said it’s an im­mensely valu­able re­source to help them in de­ter­min­ing where the bound­ary of that PSW should be – but they can’t take it just as the be all and end all.”

Still, it does give a lit­tle more flex­i­bil­ity to the map­ping process, he said.

It ad­di­tion to the PSWs cur­rently marked on prop­er­ties in the Stokes Bay area, which the MNRF has un­der­taken to fix, there is a clus­ter of Dor­cas Bay prop­er­ties and some in the Lind­say Road 20 area on White Cedar Road, he said.

One com­pli­ca­tion that can arise when con­sid­er­ing chang­ing bound­aries of a PSW is whether or not in­di­ca­tor species are present.

“The MNR has said ba­si­cally if you’re go­ing to mess around with the zon­ing bound­aries you should be able to de­fend them,” Van Dorp said.

When asked by Deputy Mayor Pa­tri­cia Greig whether PSWs have to be mapped, Van Dorp said to meet the re­quire­ments of the Pro­vin­cial Pol­icy State­ment (PPS) the PSWs need to be in­cluded in the new zon­ing by­law so that council can make ap­pro­pri­ate de­ci­sions and not al­low de­vel­op­ment or site al­ter­ations within a PSW.

“The un­for­tu­nate part is that they’ve never been brought in so at some point some­body’s got to make the de­ci­sion to bring it in and that falls to you guys,” Van Dorp told council.

“We’re prob­a­bly one of the last mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties to bring this in. Pretty much ev­ery­body else has got them in there al­ready.

“So if wet­land pro­tec­tion is im­por­tant – which the PPS says it is and you’ve heard sub­mis­sions from the pub­lic as well about the im­por­tance of the wet­lands, par­tic­u­larly the ones that are im­por­tant enough to be sig­nif­i­cant to the prov­ince – then you’ve kind of got to stick them in.

“And un­for­tu­nately you guys are the only one stop shop when it comes to is­su­ing per­mits be­cause there is no CA [con­ser­va­tion au­thor­ity] to han­dle the ac­tual de­vel­op­ment per­mit even within ad­ja­cent lands to a PSW.”

While the GSCA does not reg­u­late in NBP, it does of­fer ad­vice to the mu­nic­i­pal­ity, which is al­ways fol­lowed, Mayor McIver said.

Coun­cil­lor Tom Boyle noted that the zon­ing by­law will be re­viewed in the fu­ture.

“In the next five years we do have to take a more care­ful look at sys­tems ap­proaches and un­der­stand where th­ese in­di­ca­tor species are,” he said.

“We have to maybe look at al­vars and all the other things we have in the nat­u­ral her­itage realm of things,” he said.

“Right now I think it’s a good step to get the wet­lands. It’s crazy to have this in­for­ma­tion and not map them. It be­hooves the MNR to catch up with us and iden­tify where this stuff is more ac­cu­rately. We’ve done a lot of work here, we should get it mapped,” he said.

In a tele­phone in­ter­view, Mayor McIver said wet­lands are ex­tremely im­por­tant and wor­thy of pro­tec­tion. He noted that in al­most 100 per cent of in­stances, res­i­dents have no in­ten­tion of do­ing any­thing on a wet­land.

As for lots ad­ja­cent to a PSW, the prov­ince rec­om­mends 120 me­tres as the ad­ja­cent land buf­fer. Van Dorp sug­gested the mu­nic­i­pal­ity use site plan ap­proval to de­ter­mine whether or not some­one can build on land ad­ja­cent to a PSW.

Council dis­cussed creat­ing a new site plan by­law in re­gard to land ad­ja­cent to a PSW, but agreed get­ting the new zon­ing by­law in place was the first pri­or­ity. A new site plan by­law will be re­ferred to as a note in the new zon­ing by­law.

“My rec­om­men­da­tion would be when you get into that site plan process that we fo­cus on best man­age­ment prac­tices be­cause if you’re 90 me­tres away from a PSW or 110 me­tres away it’s likely that im­pacts could be ad­dressed through some of the site plan­ning for ex­ist­ing lots,” Van Dorp said.

Best prac­tices might in­clude, for ex­am­ple, if you’re build­ing a new house to avoid clear­ing more trees and veg­e­ta­tion than nec­es­sary and not clear­ing a lot dur­ing the mi­gra­tory bird sea­son, he said.

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