Shape the Sault, the city’s Official Plan Review process, is ready to welcome the future of the Sault.
But they want to hear your voice.
March 27th marked the first of many community consultations and public outreach forums that Shape the Sault will be hosting in order to engage with local residents and stakeholders.
This one dealt specifically with Agriculture and Rural Development.
Hosted at R.M Moore on the outskirts of town, many residents from that area, and others with farming and agricultural interests, came out to get some information and share their thoughts and concerns about the future of this kind of development.
The primary goal of these forums, Peter Tonazzo, Senior City Planner told SaultOnline, is to educate the public so that they can provide informed input to go into the Official Plan.
Well, that education starts with the simple question; what exactly is an ‘Official Plan’?
It is a legal document approved by City Council that contains the community’s vision and goals for the city, upon which community consultation is the building block.
Reviewing the plan and creating a new one assists in supporting existing and emerging trends in key areas such as urban planning, downtown, natural environment and natural resources, and agriculture and rural development.
“It will be the top land use planning document in the city. It will basically shape and dictate development in this town for the next twenty years,” Tonazzo explained.
He continued, “The current plan was created in 1996, and while it has been updated and amended since then to keep it current over time, there comes a time when you need to just start fresh. Development trends have changed, a lot has changed since 1996.”
Some of the key concerns to be addressed and discussed moving forward with the rural and agricultural elements of the plan include;
- Supporting farming and farmers, including non-farm related activities and events on farmland
- Rejuvenation of farming and how that can be supported locally
- Balancing agricultural and rural residential development without tipping the scale too far in one direction
- Engaging youth with nature
- Developing and producing more local products
- Potential accommodations for future developments including solar farms, gravel deposits/quarries, agriculture, farms/locally sourced food
And so much more.
While we adhere to a planning system that must be consistent with provincial policies, there are ways that we can address community needs in our own specific way.
“We will be doing outreach for the next while, and if anyone is interested in having us or talking to us, we are interested in hearing them and being there,” Tonazzo shares.
And there are so many ways that you can get involved.
Keep an eye for future public outreach events concerning the other policy areas here on our community calendar at SaultOnline, or visit their website here.
There, you will find contact information and really detailed policy briefings on the work done so far.
Shape the Sault also has a really unique interactive map on their site, where comments can be made specifically on different regions of the city.
It is a great tool for gaging the strengths and weaknesses of our community, as well as specific concerns and comments by residents who know their neighbourhoods best.
I encourage all of you to get out and speak with the people who are shaping the future of community. We should all have a say in the policies that define our Sault.