Minden planning changes moving too fast for cottagers
|By Lisa Gervais - Editor | June 15, 2017|
Minden Hills’ seasonal resident, Gerry Smith, said he isn’t a “pitchfork-wielding cottager.” However, he and others who packed council chambers June 8 prodded council to slow down a process of proposed zoning bylaw amendments.
Planner, Ian Clendening, called them “housekeeping” changes but Smith said the people he represented felt like the housekeeper had just shown up with a “jackhammer.”
Clendening said the intent of the changes is clearer language to provide clarity as well as consistent definitions. The existing document dates back to 2006 and has only had two minor changes since then.
However, Clendining said in his report to council that there are proposed new regulations for two-storey accessory structures and hunt camps. There are also alterations to setbacks for farm buildings and to parking space requirements.
It’s a first step to more widespread changes to the town’s planning documents.
During the meeting, Clendening conceded that some of the language in the first draft of the proposed new bylaw was awkward. He assured the public that if they had an existing structure that was compliant at the time it was built, even if it’s now deemed non-conforming, the township has no authority to stop the owners from doing work on it, including rebuilding. However, they couldn’t expand without council permission.
Smith said residents wanted to work with the township. However, he said the changes were hardly “nuances” and residents are worried since they have invested a lot of money into their properties.
He criticized the township for the method in which it notified people of the proposed changes and the timeline, saying most seasonal residents don’t get here until July.
He asked council to slow down and give residents time to process the changes and ask them what changes they think are needed.
Two public meetings have been held and the changes were canvassed on the municipality’s website and in local newspapers. Coun. Pam Sayne said the township must adhere to provincial timelines so it’s up to cottagers to keep abreast of changes all-year round.
Coun. Jeanne Anthon said staff and a council committee had been working on the draft for months, although this was its first appearance at committee of the whole, where all councillors sit. “There will be further discussion,” she said. “Council will want some time to deliberate also.”
Reeve Brent Devolin asked the gallery to put its questions and concerns in writing to the municipality. He further urged them to sign an information sheet seeking email alerts and to use the township’s expanded social media options.
“This is obviously not the last you’re hearing on this.”
There’s another public meeting scheduled for June 29 at 9 a.m. in council chambers.
See mindenhills.ca for more information on the proposed changes.
LISA GERVAIS is the editor for The Highlander.