New city official plan permits extra storeys, green roofs

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The Owen Sound council on Monday adopted its updated official plan, a document to guide the community’s development for the next 25 years. Now it goes to Gray County for final approval.

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Some changes were noted during a presentation by advisor David Aston, of MHBC Planning, and in comments from city manager of planning and heritage, Amy Cann, whose leadership was credited with updating the plan.

The plan now includes a new section on climate change and new policy direction/objectives, including a framework to complete a “climate change action plan” and implement any recommendations.

Aston said specific climate change policies will work in tandem with policies for intensification, active transport such as walking and cycling, water quality and conservation, energy conservation, potential to provide community gardens and resource water protection.

“It’s only part of the plan. . . but it’s how the plan functions and works with all policies supporting climate change,” he told Coun. John Tamming, who asked what the changes will mean.

The plan has updated the policy language focusing on “equality, diversity and inclusion” after receiving public comments in that regard. There is a new policy for “accessible housing” and additional housing units, Aston said.

Consolidated River District policies into one policy framework “reduces the confusion and complexity associated with development within the River District,” Aston said.

The retail policy framework has been updated regarding the need for retail impact studies “to provide more flexibility for development, without creating the need for retail impact studies.” This provides additional “flexibility to support future development in the commercial areas such as the East City commercial area.”

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The plan updates the policy language and includes specific guidelines for waste management and waste reduction. It updates the way waste is handled and recycling takes place. It strengthened policies to promote trails and paths to parks, Aston said.

It offers a policy to support high-speed internet connections, he said.

The plan’s land use schedules have been updated and are considered clearer and can be used more effectively with geographic information computer systems.

count. Scott Greig asked about green roofs and Aston told them they are encouraged in urban planning policy.

In the River District, for example, greater height or density would be considered in exchange for a community benefit, such as providing a green roof, Aston said.

Greig asked whether the plan would allow for a 15-storey building in the parking lot next to the Dairy Queen or whether it would consider projects on the BCK site that may require more building height to make a development viable.

“It does. And this is where we added to the plan,” Aston said. New official planning policies “would allow the city to consider additional heights and density, subject to the implementation of appropriate community benefits.”

He said this would happen “with the right planning review, the right council consideration, in the context of what is being put forward for each proposal.”

Greig said the center needs taller buildings because he believes greater density will keep businesses viable.

He also said people will appreciate the inclusion of provincial guidelines regarding secondary suites in the official plan.

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