Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Solution 6: Regional Planning/Growth Boards

The Province used to have a number of regional planning commissions set up across the province until they were dismantled in 1995.  Most municipal planning was directed or advised through these boards, who were appointed by the provincial government.  So if a developer wanted to subdivide some land for residential in the County, it went through the Commission.  Many of the municipal planning documents were advised by the Commission, who planned with the region in mind.

The Province could set up planning commissions like this again.  I've heard mixed reviews on how well these commissions worked.  It appears they were quite effective in establishing good planning practices across the province.  There was much greater thought that went into regional planning.  More thorough consideration was given to where the best places to locate residential/commercial/industrial areas should be in the region.  On the flipside, much local autonomy was lost.  Many planning decisions were heavily influenced by the Province and there were times where local priorities weren't reflected.  This can be the problem with one size fits all approaches.

Another option would be for the municipalities of the region to create a Regional Growth Board.  The Province has created a framework for how these boards can work.  You may be familiar with the Capital Region Board that is composed of the 24 municipalities that make up the capital region.  The Board has the mandate to create statutory planning documents such as their Growth Plan.  The Growth Plan identifies how the region will develop.  What types of housing will go where, where the industrial areas are best suited, and regional transportation networks are just some of the problems they tackle.

As you can imagine, getting 24 municipalities to all agree on a plan is a challenge to say the least.  Every municipality has its own priorities and wants to benefit from regional growth as much as the next guy.  So while this option allows for greater local involvement in regional planning, it can be very difficult to find consensus.  Growth plans can become quite broad, lacking in defined measures to direct growth.

The City and County currently have an Intermunicipal Development Plan in place that does give the City some influence in development decisions around the City's boundaries.  However, the Clairmont area is not included in this plan.  Thus another option would be to reopen the IDP and have the plan include an area "x" kms around City boundaries in order to include Clairmont.

In the absence of reform elsewhere, I think that any of these options would improve land planning in the region.

Next post ----> Solution 7: Dissolution

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