Wednesday, August 31, 2011

“Complete & Utter Control of Your Land”?

Have you been asked to sign the “Petition to Stop Site Alteration Bylaw”?

According to the petition, a site alteration bylaw would enable the Town to “…assume complete & utter control of your land.” The petition asserts that: “In other words, you would have absolutely no control over the land on which you pay taxes. This is nothing short of ‘COMMUNISM’.”

Strong language, isn’t it?

So, what is the issue? Are any of these statements true? And, what would a site alteration bylaw look like?

Following complaints and the suggestion from some rural residents, the Town is considering the introduction of a Site Alteration Bylaw. Many other municipalities have enacted a bylaw of this nature to limit grading, topsoil removal, and placing of fill on sites prior to receiving the appropriate approvals.

A Site Alteration Bylaw would allow a City or Town to regulate activities with the potential for environmental degradation (dumping, erosion, sedimentation, etc...), drainage problems (blockages, impact on neighbouring properties, etc…) and public nuisance (tracking of mud on roads, dust, etc…). This type of bylaw does not replace other land development approval processes (like Plans of Subdivision, or Site Plan Controls), and it is sanctioned under the Ontario Municipal Act.

The Town convened a public information session on August 10 to give people an opportunity to ask questions and provide comments in support of or in opposition to a Site Alteration Bylaw. (Notice of the meeting was advertised in the newspaper and on the Town’s website for two weeks.)

At the meeting, Staff explained that Council had not decided whether or not they would like to adopt such a Bylaw. Staff encouraged residents to take the time to submit written comments indicating support of or opposition to any such bylaw. (The deadline for the submission of comments was August 26.)

Staff will review this input and the comments from other agencies and will provide a summary to the General Committee of Council on Monday, September 19. Anyone who submitted comments or who signed the attendance sheet at the meeting will be provided with a copy of the report and the other comments when they are provided to Council.

If Council wishes to proceed, you and other members of the public will have more opportunity for input.

Despite this ongoing public process, it is unfortunate that a private party is circulating misinformation like the statements in the petition above.