E&E: Our official plan process begins


Thursday’s meeting of the Energy & Environment Committee began with a presentation on the upcoming review of the Official Plan, something Stratford is required to do every five years.

Here is the link to the minutes: 

Here is the video of the meeting:

Alyssa Bridge, Stratford’s Manager of Planning, told the Committee that staff is developing a work plan, to begin sometime this year. The work will take 18-24 months, and will be implemented through an official plan amendment at the end of that time. This is an important task. Some of the things they will be looking at are:

Long-term population and employment growth
Natural Heritage
Cultural Heritage
Climate Change

The City will be consulting the public during that time, and they claim they will use innovative methods to be sure people will be included. Members of the Energy and Environment Committee had questions:

Q: Could the plan require sustainable ways of development and add requirements for developers?
A: It’s tricky to require some things in an Official Plan. We can create an overall framework encouraging consideration of climate and sustainability. This creates a framework for other policies, like a green development standard (GDS) to provide detail.

Q: When will consultation start?
A: We want to wait until we get data from the latest census before we start. Best guess is that consultation will begin in the fall. The formal process will begin with a special meeting of Council, which gives time for people to make presentations. I anticipate that happening in the spring.

Q: Will secondary plans that were created a long time ago, before the climate emergency, be subject to review (especially sprawl).
A: A number of secondary plans are outdated, but the current review is designed to bring our Official Plan into conformity with provincial policy. The secondary plans will come later, because we need to look at servicing capacity, road network, current land use, and this would be a much bigger project.

Q: Will there be indigenous consultation?
A: Yes, it will be part of the community consultation and engagement plan.

Q: Will the annexation of land that took place in 2020, which is no longer required, be reviewed, because annexing outside of settlement areas required a comprehensive review of the OP, and that didn’t take place. Will that land go back to the county? It’s not needed by the City of Stratford.
A: These lands don’t currently have a designation in our OP. They are designated agricultural in the Perth Official Plan. Part of the OP review will be to look at both residential and non-residential land forecasted for Stratford

Q: What requirements will be in the Green Standards Plan, as opposed to the Official Plan?
A: We would create the overall policy framework in the OP, with language to encourage geothermal, net zero, and then use the Green Standards document to specify details, and any incentive that would go along with that.

Q: Who will develop the Green Standards?
A: I don’t know. I will ask Taylor Krinklaw.

Q: Under the utility section of the OP there wasn’t any mention of renewable/sustainable energy. We are not allowed to require this, but could we at lest somehow incorporate that so it opens the door for policies for renewable energy sources, or even just for developing/investing in renewables?
A: I think it’s something we can consider, as part of the engagement plan

Q: The Provincial Policy Statement actually requires that the municipality provide opportunities for the development of energy supply. Including energy generation facilities; district energy, and renewable and alternative energy systems to accommodate current & projected needs Will he portion dealing with energy supply be a part of the discussion going forward on renewing our OP?
A: I don’t understand. Our review must comply with provincial policy.

Q: What I am saying is that the current Provincial Policy Statement has the word “should” in it. How do we change that to “will” in our OP?
A: Ultimately Council will have their say

Q: The intensification targets that were set in the last OP — does anybody know if those targets were met? We need to know the background to know if we’ve been successful with the current target. We need to know whether the target is appropriate, or whether we need to look at a different one.
A: Will look into it.

Q: Could we put a target for affordable housing or low and middle income families? Is there a way that the City of Stratford can put an affordable housing target in the OP?
A: There is a Homelessness Master Plan The PPS does require municipalities to meet that target

Q: There’s a problem with floodlines as they are defined; we are no longer dealing with 100 year events. The There are other standards we could use. Will potential new bloodlines be part of a new review?
A: We rely on UTRCA. That is part of the scope; there isn’t any intention to do a review of new flood plans.

Q: Will waste reduction be incorporated into the Official Plan?
A: We can encourage through language, but we can also put something in Green Development Standards.

Q: Will the OP consider maximizing the use of the bus system, active transportation?
A: We try to encourage the most dense development we can, so that our city is walkable. There is a link between active transportation and land use planning and reducing carbon emissions. There is a Transportation Masterplan, and transit is a component. I will connect this committee with the engineer leading that project.

Q: Are there quotas or standards for mixed development? (Retail/commercial/residential)
A: We use the term “Complete communities” — a mix of uses schools/jobs/shops, the “15-minute community” encouraging active transportation. We can look at building a more robust definition of complete communities.

Q: Will the OP update standards for the amount of green space in City and the coverage of the urban forest?
A: Will look at this to see if there’s things in the OP that we need to reflect.

Q: When it does come up, will E&E be contacted?
A: I anticipate that we will do targeted consultation with this committee. Also broader consultation. Perhaps in-person, maybe through an online platform. A mailing list, or subscriber list will help keep people informed.

Q: Can we include language that encourages the City to look at all projects through a climate lens?
A: At some time Council will need to update their strategic priorities.

January E&E

January E&E

Where is our promised climate change coordinator?

Thursday’s Energy & Environment meeting began with introductions and the election of officers; Jo-Dee Burbach will chair, and Emily Sheldon will be vice-chair. Two new members of the committee are Felicity Sutcliffe, a long-time Stratford resident involved in many local environmental organizations, and Patricia Osaka, a new arrival to Stratford, who is a lawyer, working remotely in corporate law and governance.

There was a discussion of the concentration of road salt (28:00), which will be continued in later meetings, and a call for new members of the carbon reduction group (39:00), They want to do webinars for community engagement, particularly around the Stratford action plan. If you’d like to participate, contact Emily Skelding, through the committee.

Sammie Orr reported on the Industrial, Commercial, Institutional Waste Reduction group (the ICI). The project to reduce waste by using returnable containers by the Friendlier Company is proceeding well, with eight participating restaurants. You can help by asking your favourite restaurant if they are participating. The next target will be produce bags; they would like to encourage compostable or paper bags in grocery stores, but still need to do more research. Also looking at a green star award for local businesses.

There was a flurry of questions around the proposed position of climate coordinator. The position has been discussed at many earlier meetings, with some complaints that the City has been slow to act on this issue. Councillors Burbach and Henderson seemed to be less than optimistic about the new position, citing budget problems. Councillor Henderson was not hopeful: “I don’t know if we’ll wind up getting one this year, or if it will be part time.” (48:20) This provoked quite a lively response from the committee as a whole.

Sammie Orr reminded everyone that the climate goal is for 2030, not that far away: “We can’t take another year saying that environmental action must didn’t make the cut.” Mike Sullivan added “Council has endorsed the climate action plan, which included the request for a position. How can they turn it down now?” Citizens are encouraged to write to council before the next budget meeting on January 17. Here is the link to send one email to all councillors.

Councillor Burbach mentioned a survey that will be put out by Council regarding the budget. She said it usually receives a poor response, and it would be good to have more citizens responding. If you have suggestions on how the City can better publicize surveys like this, let Council know.

Other issues:
**Mike Sullivan: floodline map and information is tabled, will be discussed at next meeting
**Sammie Orr: electric vehicle incentive by the City – needs further investigation. Charging stations: also to be reviewed.
**Stratford tree power programme will take place in early April

Geothermal heating for Rotary Complex?
Councillor Burbach has passed on a suggestion that geothermal heating could be put under the resurfaced parking lot at the Rotary Complex. She’s not sure how that would fit in with the budget and the schedule, but will check to see if anything has been done, and will report back.

Welcome to Glasstown

As we take time for family and the Holidays, we know we are under the shadow of something that could permanently change our town.

I hope this will not come to pass, and I think we need to consider the root cause of this threat. It’s not a mayor with political aspirations, and it’s not a weak and easily bullied council. It’s not even a predatory and reckless provincial government who will sell anything to be open for business.

No. The real cause, the root cause of the whole thing, is the lack of a local news infrastructure. No one saw this coming. No one understood the issues. No one was prepared.

How else could there be two years of negotiations on an environmentally dirty deal while Council watched our youth organize and ultimately succeed in their demand for a municipal declaration of climate emergency? Only when people are able to avoid uncomfortable questions can such a thing happen.

This is not new. We saw it when the RNG treatment plant was approved, despite the protests of hundreds of angry citizens, many of whom, I might add, were treated very poorly by the City. Here’s how it works:

Keep them in the dark.
Surprise them.
Tell them it’s a “done deal.”
Shame them for not acting earlier.

Fair and functioning municipal government requires an informed citizenry. One local newspaper, owned by an American media conglomerate and with a skeleton staff stretched to cover a wide variety of issues, cannot provide this.

Democracy really begins here at the local level. Local passivity fuels provincial rapacity, and the double-dealing works its way up to the top. We need to be vigilant, proactive, and we need to be informed.

But for now, it’s the holidays, and I hope everyone has a peaceful and restful time. I hope everyone is near someone they love. Let’s forget about it for just a little while. In New Year, let’s work to find out everything we can about this “done deal,” and make sure that our information is correct and well resourced. Then, let’s share what we know as widely as we can, because it looks like we’re going to have to be our own news infrastructure.

An unfortunate series of events

Stratfordians may be isolated in this time of Covid, but we’re sure hearing from each other. If you don’t know about the protests over the Ford Government’s imposition of a Minister’s Zoning Order on our city, you must have superhuman social distancing powers.

Everyone I know has been writing letters and calling their councillors. If you’d like to join in, there’s a list of addresses and telephone numbers at the end of this post. There are lots of other ways to show your opposition, as well.

There is a socially-distanced rally set for Monday, November 30, at noon. This rally will precede a meeting at 3:45 between Mayor Dan Mathieson and representatives of the group Get Concerned Stratford, Melissa Verspeeten and Mike Sullivan. Only 100 may attend this socially-distanced rally , and to attend you must get tickets through Eventbrite. If you can’t get a ticket, you can listen from your car. More information at the Eventbrite link.

Get Concerned Stratford is also organizing an online meeting for December 8 at 7 pm. There will be speakers, and a chance to learn more about the issues. Find more information here.

I’m hearing that some people are holding protests in front of City Hall, from noon – 2pm, Monday to Friday. If this group has an organizer, please let me know, and I will post your information here.

There may be a socially-distanced march coming as well, I’m not sure. If you know more, please pass it on to me, and I will also post it here.

Dan Mathieson – DMathieson@stratford.ca (519) 271-0250, ext. 5234
Bonnie Henderson – BHenderson@stratford.ca (519) 271-0250, ext. 5420
Brad Beatty – BBeatty@stratford.ca (519) 271-0250, ext. 5425
Cody Sebben – CSebben@stratford.ca (519) 271-0250, ext. 5426
Danielle Ingram – DIngram@stratford.ca (519) 271-0250, ext. 5424
Dave Gaffney – DGaffney@stratford.ca (519) 271-0250, ext. 5427
Graham Bunting – GBunting@stratford.ca (519) 271-0250, ext. 5363
Jo-Dee Burbach – JBurbach@stratford.ca (519) 271-0250, ext. 5428
Kathy Vassilakos – KVassilakos@stratford.ca (519) 271-0250, ext. 5423
Martin Ritsma – MRitsma@stratford.ca (519) 271-0250, ext. 5422
Tom Clifford – TClifford@stratford.ca (519) 271-0250, ext. 5421
City Clerk’s Office – clerks@stratford.ca (519) 271-0250, ext. 237

Mailing addresses for all councillors:
City Hall, P.O. Box 818, Stratford, On N5A 6W1
City Office fax: 519-271-2783