Time to follow up on motion

Section: 
Letter

Our council is taking care of business - Kincardine corporate business. They are checking the condition of the assets, watching the public purse and planning for the future. All are excellent business practices.

 

They have thoughtfully given taxpayers notice on expected large expenditures which will occur in the near future and how these expenditures will be funded. Specifically, council has given all taxpayers the first notice that next year’s taxes will be going up at least three per cent to cover the cost of maintaining roads and bridges.

 

But hey, there are two factors that increase the funds in the public purse - tax base and the tax rate. Increasing one or both will increase funds in the public purse. There was no mention from council that other strategies to increase the tax base or increase economic development would be employed. Kincardine council could increase the tax base by making it easier to create new building lots by simplifying the process.

 

At present there is an overlay in the Kincardine Official Plan that designates multiple lands as “Significant Woodlands” and adds 10 steps to the development process, adding a minimum of a year to a year and a half to the process and thousands of dollars of cost. Approximately 80 per cent of the lands in the lakeshore area north of the town settlement and west of Highway 21 has this designation. Not only are the designated lands affected, but all lands within 120 m are also required to have a Environmental Impact Study completed to the satisfaction of the Saugeen Valley Conservation Authority. These studies must be conducted by qualified naturalists before any planning approval applications are made and take more than a year (all four seasons must be studied).

 

The cost for a four-building lot proposal in an existing subdivision was estimated at $15-20K plus expenses with a time frame of more than a year. If one sought to have the requirement waived on the basis that the land was not significant woodlands, a signed report stating this would cost $3,000-4,000.

 

Council did start the process to remove this significant woodlands designation from the Official Plan last fall, but on Oct. 1, 2014, deferred action to the new council with the following motion: (moved by: Maureen Couture, seconded by: Anne Eadie) That the Municipality of Kincardine's application for an official plan amendment to remove the "Significant Woodland" overlay be deferred to the next term of council, and further, that we recommend that any public meeting(s) to be held concerning this application take place in the summer of 2015 to allow seasonal lakeshore residents to attend, and to allow sufficient time for the new council to thoroughly review the history of the issue and the Natural Heritage Study completed in 2009-2010. Carried.

 

No further action has been taken according to E. Dance of Kincardine Planning Department as of July 16, 2015.

 

So council, my question is twofold: What are the next steps for the removal of the significant woodlands designation? What other strategies will you employ to increase the tax base of Kincardine this term?

 

Ruth Fenn-Phillips, Kincardine