What is an Official Plan?
An Official Plan describes the Town’s policies on how land in the community should be used. It is prepared with input from you and your fellow citizens and helps to ensure that future planning and development will meet the specific needs of your community.
An Official Plan deals mainly with issues such as:
- where new housing, industry, offices and shops will go
- what services like roads, water mains, sewers, parks and schools will be needed
- when and in what order parts of your community will grow
Official Plans for regions deal with broad planning issues that affect more than one municipality. All local Official Plans and Zoning By-laws must conform to the regional plan. However, an official plan is not set forever. The plan can also be changed or amended as the community’s needs change.
Why Do You Need an Official Plan?
The Town’s Official Plan:
- lets the public know what the municipality’s general land use planning policies are
- makes sure that growth is coordinated and meets your community needs
- helps all members of your community understand how their land can be used now and in the future
- helps decide where roads, water mains, sewers, parks and other services will go
- provides a framework for setting local regulations and standards, like the size of lots and height of buildings
- provides a way to settle conflicting land uses while meeting local, regional and provincial interests
- shows your council’s commitment to the planned growth of your community
What is the Official Plan Process?
When Council is considering or reviewing an Official Plan, they must ensure that:
- the appropriate approval authority is consulted
- at least one public meeting is held, notice of which must be given at least 20 days ahead of time, usually through local newspapers or by mail
- at least one public open house is held no later than 7 days before the public meeting
- adequate information, including a copy of the proposed plan, is made available at the public meeting
Any person or public body present at the public meeting has a right to speak about the proposed plan. Council must also consult with the appropriate agencies, boards, authorities or commissions before making a decision.
When council prepares an Official Plan, it must be consistent with the Provincial Policy Statement issued under the Planning Act. The Provincial Policy Statement contains clear, overall policy direction on matters of provincial interest related to land use planning and development. The "must be consistent with" rule means that Council decisions, comments, submissions and/or advice must be consistent with provincial policy statements and conform to provincial plans.
Once an Official Plan is in effect, it guides all of the Town's planning decisions:
- the council and municipal officials must follow the plan
- all new services, sewer or water mains, for example, must conform to the plan
- all zoning by-laws must comply with the official plan.
How Can You Get Involved?
You can take part in planning the future of your community by:
- finding out as much as you can about the proposed Official Plan
- thinking about how the plan might affect you, your property and your community
- going to any information sessions or public open houses that are held to explain the plan and to the public meetings where the plan is discussed
- giving your opinions at the meetings or writing to your Town Councillor or municipal staff
- working with council and the municipal staff to resolve your concerns
If you have any concerns, you should make sure that you let council know about them early in the process. Council will then have time to think about what you’ve said and may make changes before the plan is adopted.