Planning. Growth targets. Responsible development. Impact of provincial legislation. Nodes.
Settlement areas. Official Plans.
All are pieces of the puzzle that when completed is the base from which the City and County of
Peterborough will grow. The Peterborough Chamber of Commerce was pleased to welcome Directors of Planning for the City and County Jeffrey Humble and Bryan Weir to speak at our Annual General Meeting recently.
What we heard is that planning is in a time of transition and that in the wake of reviews of several pieces of provincial legislation, from the Oak Ridges Moraine Plan to the Places to Grow Plan to the Provincial Policy Statement there is a more defined vision for growth from the provincial government. Then add in an agricultural land mapping exercise and a natural heritage map and as Bryan Weir described “the development landscape is getting narrower and narrower.”
Now while that situation presents challenges; there are still opportunities. Weir took us through almost a dozen projects in various communities around the County where development in the form of
residential properties is occurring or is planned to occur. With growth targets predicting increases in the current population by 15,000 people in the County by 2041, current projects will create space for 5,100 permanent residents in addition to the seasonal crowd.
Weir acknowledged that the lack of transition time between new and old legislation has caused a few projects to face significant obstacles. While they may not be able to go ahead as planned, work is being done to see if adjustments are possible.
One of the biggest changes is the direction of development to the serviced and unserviced settlement areas. This means that someone who owns land and would like to apply for a severance to create a lot for a new home or building may not have that option. It also means greater thought will be required around infrastructure in the timing, cost, and need. The new planning landscape requires a mindset change as to what development is and how to manage it in a way that makes sense for the community.
Follow the County of Peterborough Official Plan here: www.ptbocounty.ca/en/growing/official-plan.aspx
Follow the City process at: www.peterborough.ca/Business/Studies___Projects/Official_Plan_Update.htm
The challenge with these new planning directives will be for municipalities to mould their communities and residents into provincially pre-determined targets. According to provincial directives, by 2041 the City of Peterborough will have grown by 10,000 jobs and 31,000 people. The journey to those targets also has to be realistic, as was explained by City Planning Director Jeffrey Humble. Industrial, commercial and institutional growth gives the city approximately $60 million a year. While, the City is running out of employment lands, Peterborough Airport will continue to be a significant economic driver, along with development of Cleantech Commons at Trent University which will allow for world-class innovation, collaboration and leadership in clean technologies.
Humble also told us that Peterborough’s current residential intensification rate within the built up area is 47% and to expect 3% growth on that rate over a decade is not unreasonable, but for provincial expectations of 20% growth in the intensification rate in the following decade it would be challenging. From 2031 to 2041 the City will be recommending an "alternative" intensification target of 55% of residential growth in the built up area and 45% in the designated greenfield area.
Humble indicated the more challenging provincial target is for density targets for the Designated Greenfield Areas of 80 residents and jobs per hectare. That’s why the City will be asking the province for intensification adjustments ranging between 55-65 jobs/residents per hectare between the time the Official Plan is adopted and 2041. He adds that Peterborough is moving toward increased density options for housing, which is a good thing, however, at this time single-family homes are the predominant housing type. He told Chamber members at the AGM that the City realizes $70 million annually in construction value from residential development. Moving too fast to achieve density targets could end up being very disruptive to the economy.
Meeting these provincial targets requires a strategy as it is the private sector that will carry out the actual development. A plan to expand the development charge exemption from the core urban growth centre to the broader central area (the J schedule under the Official Plan) is one way the City plans to stimulate growth in designated densification areas. Humble also pointed to reinvestment such as the Louis Street Urban Park and how the investment of $5.6 million by the City will lead to numerous private sector redevelopment opportunities in the immediate neighbourhood.
City planners are currently in the midst of land use and transportation modeling around the Central Area and commercial nodes such as Lansdowne, Chemong, Clonsilla, Ashburnham, and Armour Road to assess the impact of future development.
The Official Plan is moving forward and scheduled for completion a year from now. The Chamber of Commerce is a part of those discussions with Chamber Board Chair Jim Hill a member of a
community advisory group.
Our planning directors demonstrated that growth alone is a key economic driver. However, it is also a driver that requires significant preparation and consideration of a multitude of issues such as economy, building, trades, employment, transportation and land use to manage and plan for our future.