Wellesley will be paying close attention when Waterloo Region hosts two input sessions on the second draft of the regional official plan (ROP) this week. The public meetings are scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday.
The ROP is a legal document containing a variety of goals, objectives and policies to guide land use planning in the region over the next 20 years. The new ROP will address the challenges affecting growth, including new provincial policy and legislation influencing where and how to grow. The region is required to amend the ROP to conform to the province’s Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe by no later than June 16.
Wellesley staff and council, who last week received the region’s response to its recommendations coming out of the first draft, are now reviewing the second draft of the ROP.
“Overall the region has shown that they have listened to comments, made changes, revisions,” said Steve Jefferson of K.Smart Associates, the consulting firm representing Wellesley Township while it looks for a new staff planner.
In its response to the ROP, Wellesley sought to clarify the difference in roles and responsibilities between the upper and lower tier municipalities by requesting more specific language in the document.
Wellesley is pushing the region to confirm individual municipalities will retain the flexibility to make their own official plans reflect individual approaches to issues such as on-farm and secondary business activities.
This measure of autonomy has always been an issue for rural municipalities.
“From the earlier versions of the plan to what we’ve got now I would say there has been a shift in that direction. Where some of the earlier wording had an awful lot more detail on examples that the region was offering, it has evolved to be more – giving policy direction on the types of themes, but allowing for the individual municipalities to implement that in their own official plans in their own unique way,” said Jefferson.
“Wellesley Township will have a different set of issues than Woolwich and North Dumfries. [Recognition of] that has always been there, but this new plan … has been scaled back again to recognize that there are different ways that the different municipalities are going to be implementing some of these policies.”
Wellesley councillors are expected to discuss a more detailed response to the ROP at a meeting later this month.