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Key background documents explained

Parties to the appeal refer to a number of documents, laws, regulations and other such government papers. Here is a short primer on the important ones.

Zoning Bylaw
The zoning bylaw is an omnibus bylaw of the Town that describes the allowed uses for land. There are a number of designations such as residential, commercial, industrial, agricultural, open space and hazard — but this is not the official list, and the zoning bylaw fully describes the various designations.

Often a landowner wants to build something that is not allowed by the zoning bylaw and he or she would seek a change in the designation of the land, or an amendment to the bylaw that is specific to the site, or a minor variance.

The land on which the Bay Beach project is proposed is zoned as general commercial which reflected the use of the land prior to its purchase by the Town as a private resort on which rental cottages and other commercial facilities were allowed.

The Town amended the bylaw to allow 10 site-specific variations from the allowed use. This is what was appealed. The justification for the appeal is based on these other documents, bylaws and legislation.

Official Plan
There are three Official Plans being considered. An OP is the general guideline for land-use in the Town. Essentially the OP defines what the land is, and the zoning bylaw defines what is allowed.

Sometimes a proposed zoning amendment does not conform to the OP, in which case the amendment is denied or the OP is amended. The Town contends the zoning complies with the plan, and the appellants say it does not.

There are three OPs at work in this situation: the “in-force” plan passed by the Town in 1995, the proposed new OP approved by the Town in 2005 which is awaiting review and approval by the Region, and the Regional Official Plan.

Planning Act
The Planning Act is the provincial legislation that regulates land use planning, how land uses can be controlled and by whom. It gives authority to municipalities and describes the process by which planning is conducted.

Provincial Policy Statement
The Provincial Policy Statement is a document that provides direction on how land is used in Ontario. The Planning Act requires that all decisions on land-use planning “shall be consistent with” the PPS.

The provincial ministry of municipal affairs and housing describes it: “The Provincial Policy Statement recognizes the complex inter-relationships among economic, environmental and social factors in planning and embodies good planning principles. It provides strong, clear policy direction on land use planning to promote strong communities, a clean and healthy environment and a strong economy. It includes policies on key issues that affect our communities, such as: the efficient use and management of land and infrastructure; protection of the environment and resources; and ensuring appropriate opportunities for employment and residential development, including support for a mix of uses.”

Places to Grow
Places to Grow: A Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horsehoe is another provincial document published in 2006 that provides a framework for planning specifically in the area of Ontario with Toronto in the middle.

It complements the Provincial Policy Statement focussing on the planning pressures created by high population growth in the Greater Golden Horsehoe.

It generally seeks to limit urban sprawl by directing growth to already developed urban areas and to protect agricultural and natural areas and provide services, infrastructure and economic opportunities for the population which is expected to double by the year 2031.

Crystal Beach Neighbourhood Plan
This is a Town document approved by Council in 2005 to guide development in Crystal Beach in a general way as opposed to being a matter of policy.

It was prepared by the Town planning department with input from a community focus group. It doesn’t prescribe what or what cannot occur in Crystal Beach but offers general guidelines, including goals for development of the Bay Beach property.

Parks and Open Space Master Plan
This is a Town document that defines the long-term vision for parks and open spaces. It doesn’t have the force of law but defines what the public can expect from Town Council when it addresses parks issues.

Environmental Impact Statement
The province requires that an EIS be prepared for any development that may have an impact on a natural heritage feature or area.

The Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority, Ministry of Natural Resources and the Regional planning department agreed that no EIS was necessary for the proposal because it had previously been intensively developed and was not a significant natural feature.

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