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Council approves planning district

The new Yorkton Regional Planning District has been approved by Yorkton Council which gave the enabling bylaw second and third reading Monday.

The new Yorkton Regional Planning District has been approved by Yorkton Council which gave the enabling bylaw second and third reading Monday.

“The Yorkton Regional Planning District was created in response to City and RM‘s of Orkney and Wallace and the Regional Parks’ growth, which was happening rapidly and sometimes in conflict of the neighbouring communities’ interests,” detailed the document. “The Planning for Growth Funding made available to municipalities in the fall of 2010 was a catalyst to establish a Steering Committee and Terms of Reference in 2010, and authorized the preparation of the Yorkton District Plan. In addition, since watershed protection and flooding and drainage are a significant part of the Yorkton Region, The Assiniboine Watershed Association was invited to participate in the formation of the new District Plan.” “As part of the Province’s Planning for Growth initiative, members of the current Yorkton Planning District (City of Yorkton, RM of Orkney, RM of Wallace, and York Lake Regional Park Authority) received grant funding to update and replace our regional planning documents, including a District Plan and District Planning Agreement for all members, and also Official Community Plans and Zoning Bylaws for each of the RMs. These documents were produced by a consultant in close consultation with appointed Council representatives and administration from all the members,” said Michael Eger Director of Planning, Building & Development with the City.

The proposed Bylaw was given 1st Reading and approved for public notice at the November 7th regular Council meeting. It was advertised and circulated in accordance with the public notification requirements of the Planning & Development Act, 2007, including advertisement in the local paper, at City Hall and on the City website for a period of 30 days. As of the date of this report, no inquiries have been received, explained Eger.

“The current Yorkton Planning District was formally established in 2007 by way of Ministerial Order. The current Planning District Development Plan was adopted in 1994 and it has become increasingly apparent that the document is antiquated, and needs replacing,” he continued.

The new District Plan will:

· Incorporate the growth areas identified in the City’s new Official Community Plan;

· Identify and protect growth areas, for both rural or urban scale developments;

· Establish a collaborative and focused approach to regulate and support growth;

· More efficiently use municipal professional and financial resources.

The Plan will also help to:

· Mitigate inter-municipal disputes;

· Apply consistent decision making that creates certainty for constituents and investors;

· Better manage infrastructure and municipal services; and

· Leverage funding from senior governments.

“The intent of this District Plan is to establish a framework for the orderly, beneficial and cooperative development of the participating municipalities with a recognition that we are stronger as local governments when we work together to improve our region,” detailed he document. “This Plan is a keystone to the new working relationship between the parties and will establish the context of the planning discussed at the advisory planning district commission. The principles of cooperation, collaboration, coordination and communication are integral to the success of this relationship and the partnering municipalities uphold these principles as essential to moving the Yorkton Region forward with growth and development in a way that benefits our citizens.

“This inter-municipal planning process reviewed Provincial Legislation and Regulations, regional, and local policies to create a long-range vision for the Yorkton Regional Planning District. Numerous studies have occurred over the years and the intent of this Plan is to tie together all the previous work that had been done and to provide over-arching policies which identify and promote the development potentials of the Region through the creation of a working/guiding Plan.”

“The Plan includes a Planning District Agreement, which is formed by municipal bylaw … This agreement, like the one before it, establishes a District Planning Commission which has no decision-making authority and operates strictly in an advisory role to member governments. The Commission typically reviews all subdivisions and zoning amendments within the Joint Management Area, providing recommendations to each municipal Council. Other developments of regional significance that are located outside the Joint Management Area can also be referred to the Commission for a recommendation,” said Eger.

The Commission has been comprised of two appointed members from each Council and a member representing York Lake.

Municipalities would continue to share existing staff to operate the Commission and any costs would be absorbed through existing operating budgets.

Because Regional Planning is not mandated by the Province, the success of the new District Plan will hinge on cooperation between the participating members. That said, the Province remains the approving authority for subdivisions and zoning amendments in the RMs, and also for Official Community Plan amendments for all municipalities … this helps the Province ensure that land use planning decisions are being carried out in accordance with approved plans

Councillor Mitch Hippsley said he was concerned the City might be moving forward with the Plan too quickly.

“As much as I’ve read the City of Yorkton  may be moving a little too fast on this,” he said, adding after only a few weeks on Council he felt “a little naive” regarding the plan.

Eger said approval was a positive as it will align RM development standards closer to that of the City.

Mayor Bob Maloney noted the document has been two-years in development.

“It really is in the City’s best interest to move forward on this,” he said.

“The Yorkton Regional Planning District Plan (District Plan) provides a joint approach to address future land use, fringe development and other matters of inter-municipal or regional concern affecting lands in the participating municipalities,” detailed the document. “This District Plan promotes orderly, efficient and sustainable development throughout the Planning District and will reduce uncertainty for the public and private sectors respecting the future use of land by encouraging well-planned development in the identified areas of the Joint Management Area and Future Growth Study Areas.

“This District Plan encourages development benefiting the participating Municipalities and the region as a whole. Specific development suitability review issues including design, transportation access, utility needs, servicing availability, business diversification, community connectivity and other issues will be governed by individual municipal planning bylaws. This Plan recognizes that development is an ongoing activity requiring flexibility to maintain the Plan’s relevance and provide the most suitable direction for the growth of the Region.

“This District Plan is intended to guide the Planning District in a strategic manner. This Plan will ensure the most logical and efficient development of the Planning District into the future. Consideration will be given to the existing developed areas of the three municipalities, available water resources, productive lands, and the need for the extension of servicing and infrastructure to provide a sustainable and comprehensive growth pattern.”

In the end the bylaw passed unanimously.

“This is not a stand-alone Plan,” noted the document. “In accordance with The Planning and Development Act, 2007 and The Statements of Provincial Interest Regulation, this Plan augments or supplements the policies contained in individual OCPs. The policies in this over-arching Plan are complementary to local policy and bridge the individual OCPs of the participating Municipalities.

“All future municipal planning policies and decisions must be consistent with the District Plan and where a conflict occurs, the policies of the District Plan will supersede other planning policy in the Joint Management Areas. Each Municipality shall follow and implement the principals, goals, objectives and policies of this Plan and will reflect the over-arching provisions in their respective Official Community Plans. The Municipalities agree that in adopting this Plan, it is their mutual intention that the principles set out in this Plan will govern future development, growth and land use planning in the Planning District and the Joint Management Areas.”