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A: A number of secondary plans are outdated, but the current review is designed to bring our Official Plan into conformity with provincial policy.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.