No reason to rush Official Plan to finish line now

I have been disappointed by the lack of public discourse around the draft official plan that will be brought before council in a statutory public meeting on December 15th.

We are at a critical juncture in the continued evolution of this community and the lack of awareness and engagement seems, unsurprisingly directly tied to the current second wave of the covid-crisis. I think it is fair to say that PEC citizens currently don’t have the time and/or mental fortitude given present circumstances to engage with the long-term consequences of this plan that Mayor Ferguson describes as playing a “central role…in the growth and development over the County over the next 25 years.”

One particularly concerning aspect of the draft official plan is on future development almost singularly focused on the county’s settlement areas. The supportive logic put forth seems to be around protecting the environment via emissions reduction from eliminating country lot subdivisions and limiting severances to one per lot.

With this approach to development, how can Council ensure the viability and unique charm of settlement areas like Wellington and Picton for years to come? Not only are these unique communities the key cultural hubs of our County, the negative implications of disrupting the delicate balance of these communities and turning them into high density “subdivision towns” are too severe.

There must be a more balanced and equitable approach to future development. It feels like the pendulum has swung too far in one direction with this plan. More consultation should occur when our community is safely through this health crisis.  This unique hinge in history has provided us an ideal time to stop and reflect on the implications of this crisis and how it may affect the current and future inhabitants of PEC, the latter of which could represent a vast opportunity for more urban to rural migration facilitated by virtual work arrangements.

I understand that council made approval of this new plan a priority but the world changed this past year and everyone’s prioritizes have had to change as a result.

Why rush this plan over the finish line now?

Give citizens the opportunity to absorb, reflect and actively participate in this process and respect that these decisions will have multi-generational repercussions.

Darren Raycroft