BROCKTON – Jack Van Dorp and Kristen Harrison from the County of Bruce gave a presentation to Brockton council on Natural Legacy.
It’s part of Plan the Bruce, to help pave the way for the county’s new Official Plan.
Van Dorp said that Bruce County “has rich natural resources: good soil, sand and gravel, groundwater, clean beaches, forests.” Long-term sustainability needs management, and management requires identifying where the most important resources are and what they need. Management options can include, depending on the resource, preservation, creating distance between the resource and new development, and management to maintain or increase value. Plans are needed to ensure that combined effects of change preserve natural assets and positively impact our future. Also needed is to address concerns of property owners regarding how zoning changes may affect development rights and property values.
Harrison provided some details about Bruce’s natural legacy. Northern Bruce has 12 per cent wetland cover; in southern Bruce it’s 13 per cent. The area is home to over 2,000 species, some of them endangered or at risk.
Different approaches are being recommended for the northern part of the county and the southern part.
In the south, a features-based system approach is recommended. This approach is used in areas where natural features are more fragmented.
In the north, the approach would be based on core areas where key features are concentrated.
Van Dorp outlined three options – a basic system consistent with the Provincial Policy Statement, a system that builds on the first option with additional areas and criteria for features, and the third option that builds on both to “illustrate a ‘natural heritage forward’ system” – more features, and more direction around enhancements.
He and Harrison asked council “where Brockton sits on the options.”
Mayor Chris Peabody said the municipality is “not in a position (to answer) right now.” Brockton is in the process of hiring a planner regarding dissatisfaction with certain other studies with Plan the Bruce.
He noted the main natural heritage feature in Brockton is the Greenock Swamp.
He made a further statement after additional discussion, reiterating that the matter would be referred to the planner.
“Farmers have preserved a lot of woodlots for 150 years,” the mayor said. “We want our hamlets to grow... and slightly grow the urban boundaries of Brockton... neither would impact on this.”
He also noted the “inequity” of a municipality – Saugeen Shores – where growth is occurring in the environmentally sensitive Huron fringe area, while “we’re locked in.”
Coun. Steve Adams said he was pleased to see “a collaboration instead of restrictions.”
The county will be discussing Official Plan matters on Oct. 21.
Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times