Puslinch Township will hire its own senior planner

PUSLINCH – The township is receiving enough planning applications that it needs its own planner – and on May 24, council agreed.

Clerk Courtenay Hoytfox presented a report outlining the need for such a position.

Up until now, the township made use of a planner provided by Wellington County.

But Bill 23 and Bill 109 have changed the timelines for service delivery.

“Bill 109 has resulted in restrictive legislative timelines that need to be met by the township for various planning applications, otherwise, refund obligations and risk of appeals to the Ontario Land Tribunal exist,” Hoytfox stated in the report.

A township planner would take on the following roles, among others:

  • provide planning recommendations to the Committee of Adjustment for all minor variance applications;
  • provide planning recommendations to council for all zoning bylaw amendment applications;
  • provide planning comments to applicants for all mandatory pre-consultation submissions;
  • provide planning recommendations for all site plan control applications, development agreements, and draft plan of subdivision/condominium agreements;
  • review and consult with the county on the Municipal Comprehensive Review process and official plan amendment;  
  • management of township aggregate files, including required reporting, monitoring, peer reviews, tracking and making recommendations to council;
  • provide support to by-law enforcement for zoning compliance files;
  • represent the township at Ontario Land Tribunal hearings; and
  • provide township representation on the Wellington Source Water Protection Working Group.

The township pays about $59,000 to the county annually for planning services, plus another $4,700 a year for special projects, such as the short-term accommodation amendment review.

It also anticipates saving some legal costs, as a senior planner would not need to consult with legal counsel on legislative or procedural matters.

The position would cost the township $52,000 to $60,000 a year including salary, benefits and pension.

A portion of this cost would be offset by planning application fees that in the past would go to the county, but with a planner in-house will remain with the township.

Council had no objections.

Mayor James Seeley said he spoke with the county CAO and director of planning and they understood the rationale.

“We have been on the cusp (of needing our own planner) with all the aggregate,” he said.

“Now with the changes to planning, this makes sense.”