Another step forward for the City of Peterborough in the updating of the Official Plan (OP).
The OP is a document that is required by the province and according to the a city report presented to General Committee earlier this week, is the “guiding document that helps set the broad vision and direction for future growth and development.”
That vision is organized around five themes:
At first blush, it seems that the Peterborough Chamber of Commerce and the Official Plan are moving in the same direction. During the 2018 municipal election campaign, the Chamber released a business platform with ten recommendations. Among the recommendations is an official plan that encourages innovative and adaptive zoning practices, builds community engagement into the process, and supports various types of housing stock. All very comparable to what is being presented in the draft official plan.
"However we think it’s fair to ask if this plan will address a long standing and fundamental challenge – the shortage of serviced industrial land," said Stuart Harrison, President & CEO, Peterborough Chamber of
Commerce. "Reading carefully we see terms such as “maximizing available land”, “adaptation of older employment lands”, and “intensification”, but a clear statement about where the future job growth will be located is very much open to interpretation."
Earlier this year, the provincial government started discussions around provincially significant employment lands. They identified 29 areas across the province, mostly in the GTA.
While the Peterborough area was not selected to have any provincially significant employment lands, the issue of employment lands is extremely important. There is a need as a community to be nimble and to be able to adapt to emerging industries. So as the process continues, the Chamber encourages thought around:
What kind of space will maximize the land available for employment? As with any planning exercise it should be a balance between the needs of residents and the need to create space for employment for those residents and commuters. In general, there is a trend toward using less space and building up. Despite manufacturing not requiring the massive land use of the past, doesn’t mean there isn’t a need for some space and land on which to build places that create and develop products.
Part of the draft official plan is a new employment land planning framework. Intensification is possible in Peterborough, in some areas it is necessary. But there is also a need to have space to be ready for those emerging industries that require more land and cannot be situation in a residential area. It is in this plan that balance is required and cannot be forgotten.
The Official plan is viewed through the lens of the 2014 Provincial Policy Statement as well as the guidelines of the 2017 and 2019 iterations of the Growth Plan. But there is also a subtlety of making the plan uniquely Peterborough. Of creating a plan that is bold, encouraging of our creative entrepreneurs and draws on our strengths in aerospace, cleantech, agriculture, and tourism.
If we are going to create the jobs that this area so badly needs, both now and into the future, we need to have a crystal clear path to that future.