Striving for Sustainable Growth: An Update from Blue Mountain Ratepayers Association
BMRA continues to push for important improvements to the Town’s development approval processes. These
involve some long-standing issues, including several that were highlighted by the Mayor and Councillors during
the 2018 election campaign.
The goal is to put processes in place that are fully transparent to the public, consistent and predictable so all
parties know what to expect, and supportive of our Official Plan (OP).
Our current OP, approved in 2016, is the result of a long period of public consultation. Big themes raised during
the consultations focused on respecting and enhancing the qualities we all love about our area, and ensuring
that the Town develops in a way that is ecologically, socially and economically sustainable.
The Town’s vision as stated in the OP is: ”managing growth that will support and emphasize the Town’s unique
character, diversity, civic identity, recreational and tourism resources, rural life style and heritage features and
to do so in a way that has the greatest positive impact on the quality of life in the Blue Mountains”. The 300-
plus page document includes lots of policies and guidelines designed to translate this vision into reality, but the
process is complex, and we need tools and systems to make sure it happens.
That’s what this effort is all about, and here’s a list of key changes BMRA is looking for:
Community Design Guidelines: BMRA was instrumental in getting the Town’s Community Design
Guidelines referenced in the OP, so there would be a requirement for development proposals to respect
some basic principles of good building and community design.
The problem now is that the current Guidelines, from 2012, are outdated. An update was planned for 2019,
but staff resources were diverted to other projects. We’re asking Council to make the update a priority,
and include a range of issues that have been raised by residents, such as buffering between existing
neighbourhoods and new developments when there is an abrupt change in height or density, and ensuring
appropriate transitions between commercial and residential zones.
Site Plan Control: This is the part of the development approval process that covers design details like
landscaping and architecture. Site Plan Control is currently delegated by Council to the Director of Planning
and Development Services, who chairs a committee of staff members who work without public oversight.
The committee follows available Community Design Guidelines and Engineering Standards, but many
features of a site plan may not be prescribed and are open to interpretation – and can have an impact on
During the 2016 election campaign Mayor Soever proposed that members of Council sit on the Site Plan
Committee to monitor the process and offer residents a direct route for submitting input. BMRA would like
to see this implemented as soon as possible.
Sunset Clauses: We’re asking Council to require all approvals to have a sunset clause – if development does not proceed before a specified date the approval expires and a new application is required. This eliminates
cases where an outdated proposal can still proceed, even if it is no longer appropriate due to changing
BMRA has had informal discussions with Council members and planning staff on all of these issues and will be
making more formal submissions in the coming weeks. We’ll keep you updated and welcome your comments.
“ BMRA serves in an advocacy role with Town Council and staff on behalf of ratepayers to ensure and enhance our community’s quality of life.”
“Keeping the BMRA membership informed”
Striving for Sustainable Growth
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