Wellington County hears delegations on official plan

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.