Council adopts growth management strategy terms of reference

Centre Wellington is adopting terms of reference for a growth management strategy to help kick start plans for future growth locally.

In January, Centre Wellington’s managing director of planning and development Brett Salmon explained why the recommendation was before council.

The recommendation also includes the appointment of Mayor Kelly Linton and councillors Kirk McElwain and Mary Lloyd as the council representatives on the steering committee.

Salmon noted the steering committee would be authorized to establish subcommittees as required.

Salmon asked that council approve Stantec Consulting Ltd. and Watson and Associates Economists Ltd. as single source vendors for a period of three years to complete the growth management strategy on the township’s behalf.

Salmon noted the recommendation stems back to a document brought to council in October 2015, which emphasized the need for getting on with a growth management strategy.

Salmon said the relationship with Stantec began last year when staff was authorized to undertake an RFP to assist the planning department with the review of Pearle Hospitality’s plan for both the north and south side of the river in Elora.

He said the idea was that this “was a large project and a multi-disciplinary consulting team was needed to assist township staff in order to keep up with council’s priority to give that development prompt … but thorough approvals.”

Key criteria for that aspect included the firm having a professional planning staff, a senior level planner available within a relatively short distance of the township office, and that the firm has consulting engineers, landscape architects and a broad range of other disciplines available in-house.

“Because of that, we believe the same criteria would apply to this project and that (Stantec) would be the ideal team to work with on the growth management strategy.”

He added Watson and Associates has been the township’s vendor of record for years on development charge studies, and its financial analysts for water and sewer rates.

Salmon noted accommodating future growth will require major investment in infrastructure and the provision of cultural and recreational services, and that it is not possible to develop in all growth areas at once – the timing and cost of growth-related services must be coordinated.

Salmon added the growth management strategy would identify growth areas, establish future development phasing, develop growth-related planning policies that are coordinated on a township basis, and provide direction for infrastructure improvements to serve the growth areas.

Salmon said the key engagement plan will be developed fairly early with social media, stakeholder engagement and other public venues. He added the steering committee, which includes staff, councillors and members of the public, will be taking the broader view.

The process will include, but not be limited to: reviewing historic growth trends; reviewing Wellington County growth projections; reviewing and analyzing the cost of service requirements (hard and soft); developing growth scenario options for short, medium, and long term; and recommending a preferred growth management plan. The process will include consultation with the community, developers, council, Wellington County, and township staff.

Salmon anticipates the process will begin early in 2016 and that the final report would be received by council in January 2017.

Salmon noted the recommendation for potential subcommittees was only if there were topics that committee members believed needed further discussion or expertise.

Mayor Kelly Linton noted “We’re keeping things very flexible at the moment.”

Councillor Fred Morris had issue that while there appeared to be a public engagement strategy, there did not appear to be a council engagement strategy. “How involved will council be in this process,” he asked.

Salmon noted documents are available for the whole of council as well as the public.

“However, we need to establish the liaison between the working team and the rest of council.”

CAO Andy Goldie said the intent would be to share meeting minutes and technical documents on a regular basis.

Salmon added another intent is to keep the process flexible enough that items can be altered once the steering committee gets underway.

“We haven’t formed a consulting strategy yet, because we are not off the ground yet.”

Linton suggested the provision of milestones presented to councillors every month or every other month.

Goldie saw this as regular reporting from the advisory committee to council’s committee of the whole.

Council eventually agreed to approve the terms of reference, including the composition and the council representatives.

The 2016 capital budget allocated $50,000 for the growth management strategy plus the unspent approved capital funding of $50,000 from previous years’ budgets.