Growth and Development in TBM:
Here’s your chance to have a say in how much, how fast and how to protect what’s important.
The recently announced “Official Plan 5 Year Review” may not sound like the most exciting news, but it’s easily one of the most important projects our Town will undertake in 2021-22.
The Official Plan (OP) is the primary legal document that governs how our Town grows and develops. It covers everything from the scale and density of new buildings and subdivisions to requirements for critical services like schools, parks, water & sewer systems, roads and bike paths. It also defines where the growth doesn’t go – how we protect the trees, watersheds, beaches, agricultural lands and other assets that are so important to our quality of life.
An Official Plan review happens every five years, and this one is more important than ever. TBM is currently facing unprecedented development pressures, and there are some serious questions about how and whether this growth can be managed sustainably.
It all starts on July 12, 2021, with the first Public Meeting for the OP review process. We’ll get a presentation from Town staff on what’s involved, and we’ll be invited to comment on key issues such as the scope of the review, our top priorities, and our overall vision for TBM for the next 25 years.
This will be followed by more public meetings and opportunities to review draft documents in the coming months. Notice of the upcoming Public Meeting for the Official Plan 5 Year Review, including links for additional information and speakers’ registration, can be found on the Town’s website at https://www.thebluemountains.ca/public-notices.cfm.
BMRA encourages all members to become engaged with the Official Plan Review process, which will have a major impact on the future of the Town of the Blue Mountains. Please feel free to forward any questions or share your comments and input via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
BMRA will be engaged in this process every step of the way, and we’re hoping you will also take advantage of this opportunity to have your say. Click here to review some of the key OP issues to look for.
TBM 2022 Budget and Beyond
As TBM Council approaches the 2022 Town Budget development process, the BMRA wanted to provide our view of the principles and priorities that should be applied to the exercise. Here is a summary of the deputation that the BMRA Budget Subcommittee made to the June 1 Committee of the Whole session.
- Responsible Budget Management
Capture Economies of Scale – Our growth in expenses should be lower than our growth in households and tax revenues. This would decrease the ratio of expenses to revenues, and free up funds to support our many pressing needs. Council and Staff should pursue opportunities for improving efficiencies through leveraging Zero Based Budgeting, among other approaches to streamline operations.
Provide an “All In” View of the 2022 Budget – Projecting a specific % change in department budgets and total Town spending without including the “additions” to the budget requested is meaningless. The additions and reallocation of resources should be presented in the context of each requesting department’s base budgets, and the change in their mandate or deliverables that warrants the increase. This focus on key metrics would also enable the development of Key Performance Indicators that would provide a simple snapshot of the effectiveness of the Town’s budget management.
- Planning for our Future
Long Term HR Planning – Determine the required capabilities, depth of resources and experience to fulfill future mandates, and create an HR plan to ensure they can be delivered. This should include investment in staff skills development. A long term view of HR requirements should also incorporate succession plans for key roles.
Prudent Asset Management – Council and Staff should identify the gaps in our infrastructure, anticipate serious future shortfalls, and confirm the plans to address those issues. The current mess that Collingwood is experiencing with their water supply suggests that Council needs to assure TBM residents that our Town won’t face similar challenges in the future. To most cost effectively meet our growing infrastructure needs, Council and Staff should pursue opportunities to form partnerships and shared working agreements with both Grey County and other towns / municipalities, where appropriate.
Grey County Strategy – It is a given that the future flow of tax levy dollars from TBM to Grey County will only get larger, and that will essentially be beyond our control (the coming new MPAC assessments being a further complicating factor). How will we address the need to maximize support from the County, and receive fair reinvestment of TBM-sourced funding back into our Town? Is there a way that we could possibly create “Win-Win” scenarios, recognizing that in many instances, Grey County attempting to do what is viewed as being best for the County may be contrary to what would be in the best interests of TBM?
Securing a Legacy – It may be helpful to ask what legacy initiatives would our current Council want to drive on behalf of their constituents, that could be looked back on in a decade and be seen to have materially enhanced TBM quality of life. This would represent the synthesis of responsible financial stewardship with the definition of a shared vision for our desired future. One example could be the development of a new community recreation centre.
BMRA Budget Review Committee
Building out the Town’s infrastructure is obviously a critical, and much discussed element of ensuring our future. When people hear about infrastructure, they typically think of roads and water services. And while those are vital in today’s world (and topics of great interest in TBM), reliable access to the internet has become an important part of modern infrastructure, especially with the lifestyle changes brought about by the pandemic. It is a logical contributor to our sustainability strategy, as it helps to ensure economic growth and provides support to the agriculture sector, as well as enabling social connectedness and equity.
The TBM is attempting to address this need through their RABIT initiative. RABIT, or Rural Access to Broadband Internet Technology, is a program being run by the Town to help fill gaps currently experienced in parts of TBM to reliable internet services. There are two broad parts to the RABIT plan;
– the first is to identify areas in TBM which require upgrades to their internet signal. A campaign was launched on May 5, in coordination with the Canadian Internet Regulatory Agency, to get TBM residents to conduct a test on the strength of their current internet service, and report their results to the Town. This information will allow the Town to map out current internet effectiveness across TBM.
– the second part of the plan is to engage local telecommunications suppliers – either in the Town or the broader region – to determine interest in conducting pilot projects to address coverage gaps in specific areas. These suppliers operate on a smaller scale than the big national entities, and are therefore interested in more localized opportunities that don’t meet the financial return threshold larger companies set. There are three potential suppliers submitting proposals.
Through this initial phase, the Town will be determining the role it can most productively play, which could include;
– helping suppliers identify where opportunities exist to expand internet service and support their efforts to access available federal and provincial funding
– Town led projects to lay roadside conduits for fibre optic cable placements. It is the preference of the BMRA that the Town avoid investing their own funds in this regard, if the projects can be made viable through other sources of capital.
– encourage developers to lay these conduits in new developments, as is being done in Caledon
The Town has also begun working with other Grey County partners to determine if there are cross municipality projects that could be undertaken. A broader program – SWIFT or Southwestern Integrated Fibre Technology – is underway across SW Ontario. TBM has to this point made significant contributions to this initiative, but to date we have not received any investment back into our town. Council is working with the County in an attempt to have some future SWIFT funding directed to TBM.
The BMRA believes enhanced internet services will provide major benefits to TBM residents in the years ahead. RABIT should be an important contributor to those efforts, and will help to ensure a sustainable future, if the Town can make the vision a reality.
Town Talks – Planning for TBM’s Future
The third of the BMRA’s “Town Talks” virtual member forums was held on Tuesday, April 27. TBM Director of Planning Nathan Westendorp and Councillor Jim Uram joined us for a discussion of the key planning issues facing TBM.
Some of the session highlights included:
- Control of Growth
- Public Involvement in Town Planning
- Sustainability of our Community
- Official Plan Review
A summary of the issues addressed can be found on BMRA.ca.
Thank you to those participants who took the time to send us their observations and questions in advance of our discussion, with over 80 members who registered.
Any questions that we were not able to answer directly will be passed to TBM Council for their response.
We experienced technical difficulties that interfered with the final section of the session, but have recovered the recording. If you weren’t able to join us, please click here for a recording of the session.
As the BMRA plans future sessions, your thoughts on subjects and speakers are welcome! Please send your suggestions to email@example.com.
|Council’s Next Chapter – What do you expect going forward?|
To keep our members informed and engaged with important issues impacting the Town of Blue Mountains, the BMRA is holding a series of virtual member forums called “Town Talks”.
The recent Town Talks, “Council’s Next Chapter” was held Tuesday, March 16 from 5 – 6:30 pm. This moderated discussion with BMRA Board and Subcommittee members was intended to hear from you, our members. Click here for a list of topics addressed. A summary of questions posed and answers provided can be found on here.
If you weren’t able to join us, please click here for a recording of the session.
We appreciate your participation and welcome feedback and suggestions for future member forum discussions to firstname.lastname@example.org
Help SAVE Escarpment wetlands and KEEP County Road 91
As you may know, Clearview intends to close the western section of former County Road 91 west of Duntroon and transfer ownership to Walker Aggregates Inc, enabling them to access the many millions of tonnes of aggregate lying under the road. They propose to replace this important inter-county road by reconstructing Sideroad 26/27, currently a narrow seasonal road with a 14% grade that traverses the Niagara Escarpment’s most sensitive lands comprising precious wetlands.
- Degrade a cold-water trout fishery
- Destroy Escarpment wetlands
- Create a dangerously steep road
- Increase traffic on Concession 10
- Impact inter-county traffic networks
- Put more traffic through the Blue Mountains
- Impact efficient commercial transportation
Learn more about the issue and how you can help our local environmental champions, the Blue Mountain Watershed Trust, click here: https://watershedtrust.ca/help-us-save-sideroad-26-27-info-session/
Evaluating the Potential for Services to be Delivered Across the County
The BMRA developed a position paper on this issue, which we see as offering the potential for shared benefit across Grey municipalities, but also could pose financial risk to Town of Blue Mountains ratepayers. We followed up our paper with a deputation that we made to Grey County Council on January 14. We provide the relevant materials for your information.