Official Plan Update: Impacts on Countryside

The Official Plan is the document that sets the vision and framework for future development in the City of Kingston.   Throughout 2015, the City has undertaken an extensive update process through consultation with the public, and alignment with other strategic documents such as the Ontario Provincial Policy Statement (2014), the Employment Lands Review, or the Cataraqui Source Water Protection Plan.  This work, when complete, will lead to the long awaited comprehensive zoning by-law update for the City of KIngston, which at the moment has 5 distinct sets of zoning by-laws, providing an inconsistent framework across our municipality.

Thursday, November 5 is the final day to provide comments on the Second Draft of the Official Plan.  Comments can be sent by email or received in person at a meeting of the Planning Committee at Kingston City Hall, beginning at 6:30pm

Proposed Changes Affecting Countryside

Below is a brief outline of proposed changes to the Official Plan that were outlined in a report to the Rural Advisory Committee, from the October 26, 2015.

Provincial Policy Statement (2014)
Many positive changes in the Official Plan stem from the Provincial Policy Statement (PPS) which was released in 2014. It is important for the policies of Kingston's Official Plan to be aligned with the PPS.  In general, it provides polices that support:

  • Healthy, integrated and viable rural areas;
  • Recognition of the diversity of rural communities and their importance to the economy and quality of life;
  • Clarification of the types of uses that may occur on rural lands; and
  • Economic opportunities for agricultural uses in rural areas.

On Farm Diversified Uses
The Official Plan currently has provisions for Accessory Uses in Prime Agricultural Areas. This Section will be made consistent with the 2014 PPS with the use of the definition “on-farm diversified uses”, although the permitted uses will remain similar.

Re-designation of Prime Agricultural Land
The 2014 PPS includes new provisions for removing land from prime agricultural areas. The corresponding Official Plan policy will be clarified to further explain the circumstances land can be removed from prime agricultural areas, and the type of non-agricultural uses which may be permitted in prime agricultural areas subject to limiting criteria.

Natural Heritage Areas and Agricultural Use
The 2014 PPS indicates that prime agricultural uses are to be considered a priority land use. The provisions in the Official Plan for agricultural uses in natural heritage areas will be clarified to ensure that normal farm practices occurring in or adjacent to natural heritage areas will be permitted to continue regardless of the natural heritage status.

Local Food Sources
To support the long term economic prosperity of Ontario, the 2014 PPS indicates that policies within the Official Plan must provide opportunities to support local food. This initiative will be newly referenced as a strategic direction in several existing policies including; sustainable development in the Country Areas, prime agricultural area land use, and rural area land uses.

Natural Hazards
While the current Official Plan recognizes several environmental conditions that could lead to adverse effects to humans or properties, the 2014 PPS requires acknowledgement of two additional types of hazards now included in the Official Plan:

Cataraqui Source Protection Plan
The Cataraqui Source Protection Plan (SPP) contains policies intended to mitigate or eliminate threats to source water. Developing the SPP involved identifying sources of water, assessing the vulnerability and recognizing current and potential threats. Along with updated relevant policies, developments will be required to identify measures and management practices to mitigate any high risk activities, and some land uses will be prohibited in the most vulnerable areas (specifically near the Cana wellhead).

Employment Land Strategy Review
A key recommendation in this study was the proposal to pro-actively cluster small scale Rural Industrial and Commercial developments. Currently, smaller scale industrial and commercial developments are permitted throughout the rural areas by way of a site-specific zoning by-law amendment. This has resulted in these uses being scattered throughout the rural area, where it would be preferable if the uses were clustered in more appropriate locations. This clustering was developed in the updated Official Plan by introducing a policy that required locational criteria to be satisfied, including directing uses away from sensitive uses, hamlets, waterfront residential, and estate residential areas.

Estate Residential
The goal of the current Official Plan is to strongly discourage estate residential subdivisions by providing restrictive locational criteria to satisfy. However, these policies were not successfully controlling estate subdivision development. The Estate Residential Review recommended establishing recreational settlement areas, distinct from the Rural areas, in appropriate locations along waterways. This recommendation will undergo further assessment as part of the Waterfront Master Plan, which is currently in development.

Shannon’s Corners / Glenburnie Hamlet Signage
A report to the Rural Advisory Committee explored the confusion regarding whether this Hamlet should be known as Shannon’s Corners or Glenburnie. The hamlet is currently labeled as Shannon’s Corners in the Official Plan, though the hamlet is commonly known as Glenburnie. Canada Post also refers to that area as Glenburnie. The City is planning to acknowledge the historical importance of this hamlet though special signage.  As part of the draft Official Plan update, the hamlet will be renamed from Shannon’s Corners to Glenburnie.