Wellington County council held a public meeting here prior to council Feb. 25 to hear the progress the official plan.
Planner Mark Paoli explained there are a number of issues that council will have to consider when it does its five year review. He said the county will have to bring the plan into conformity with provincial legislative changes, conform to the provincial policies (some of which is already done), make changes to match the provincial Green Belt policies, make any other changes as needed for Erin and Puslinch Township, which are partially in the provincial Green Belt.
He said urban expansion will not be permitted there until the Green Belt review is complete. He added council might want to consider enforcing those policies across the county, and will have to consider if it will allow urban development on the Paris and Galt moraines.
There will be some changes to current official plan maps. Paoli said there is more wood land than is designated on current maps, and there are corrections for urban boundaries.
Paoli said the public will have several chances to comment, from open houses to public meetings.
Tim Long, of Eden Mills, said there is a development issue in Guelph-Eramosa that appears to be coming up the same time as the county is doing its official plan. There is land at the southwest corner of Highway 7 and County Road 29 that was designated for industrial years ago, and residents want it back to agriculture.
He and a group, Friends of Eramosa River Valley, have a petition to see that it happens. He said the proposal for industrial lands was 15 years ago, but nothing happened on the nearly 70 acres because it needed sewer and water services, and those never became available.
Long said the land is “very porous” and his group does not want to see a private septic system there. “There’s not a lot of soil and gravel to filter, and it’s a risk to groundwater,” he said.
He added the original access was to be off Highway 7, but the province has turned down that plan, so the alternative is the county road. He said that would mean “serious truck traffic” through Eden Mills.
Long said a recent Ontario Municipal Board hearing refused an application at Highway 7 and County Road 44 because of concerns for water downstream, and the OMB will refuse “a hazard. There’s a great vulnerability to the aquifer.”
He added that Guelph also has some interest in the proposal because the Eramosa River flows into its borders and provides water to the city. He called the industrial designation a proposal “from another era and another time” when there was little thought of water protection.
“We once thought leaded gas was a good idea,” he said.
He asked the county to turn the land back to agricultural use. “Far too much of it is being paved over as it is,” he concluded.
Schedule for plan
Puslinch resident Dennis Lever asked about the schedule for finishing the official plan.
Paoli said this is a good start, and staff will probably make a draft through the spring, based on comments it hears. The public meetings and open houses will occur later in the year.
Councillor Lou Maieron said it makes sense to wait until the provincial policy guidelines are met.
County planner Gary Cousins said “We seem to always be catching to the provincial policy statements.
He said the revised plan is overdue but there is much new legislation to consider about the Green Belt. He added the county could make a good start this year and still be delayed.
Warden Joanne Ross-Zuj said the county will be accepting written comments about the plan.