Former planning board head weighs in on Official Plan delay

Elva Carter, former secretary-treasurer of the Manitoulin Planning Board.

GORE BAY—The former secretary-treasurer of the Manitoulin Planning Board (MPB) says the delays in approval of the board’s Manitoulin Official Plan has been caused by the province.

“The many delays toward the completion of the Manitoulin Official Plan may be considered to be bureaucratic overkill,” said Elva Carter, speaking to the delay in of approval of the MPB Official Plan by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing (MMAH).

Ms. Carter said last week, “the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing (MMAH), in their attempts to have additional policies inserted into this Official Plan, which went beyond the policies of the Provincial Policy Statement and other provincial mandate, have caused delay after delay in approval of this plan, which was adopted by the Manitoulin Planning Board and the partner municipalities in July 2016.”

“One example of this delay was the MMAH insisting on very restrictive private road policies which the board did not support and were not in the best interests of the Manitoulin Planning area,” said Ms. Carter. “The MMAH, after lengthy consultation, understood the needs of the area and relaxed the provincial recommended policies.”

“The MMAH acknowledged on August 29, 2016 the submission of the adopted Official Plan for approval was a complete file and the Planning Act provides for 180 days to complete the approval process,” continued Ms. Carter. “This approval is outstanding due to consultations between the MMAH and the United Chiefs and Councils of Mnidoo Mnising (UCCMM). As required, there were meetings and pre-consultations between the MMAH, Planning Board and UCCMM in 2012 and 2013, during the early drafting of this Official Plan. There was correspondence received from UCCMM in June 2016, after the statutory public meeting, which seemed more relevant to the outstanding land claims (of the UCCMM) than the draft Official Plan forwarded to MMAH.”

Ms. Carter said, “it is concerning that the planning board acted with due diligence with pre-consultations with the UCCMM as requested by MMAH and here we are nearly one year later after adoption waiting on the MMAH to complete the same consultation which had previously had no response.”

“Going forward, which they are not, it is very curious why the UCCMM has now come forward with lengthy requirements for this Official Plan,” continued Ms. Carter. “The Town of Northeastern Manitoulin and the Islands (NEMI) requested its own planning authority, which required them to have a separate Official Plan which was approved within approximately one year. It is understood that the UCCMM, which borders NEMI on three sides, provided no input to that Official Plan or requested any special policies.”

“While supporting our indigenous neighbours in a fair completion to the rightful Native land claims, the delay of approval of this Official Plan is unfortunate and very frustrating,” added Ms. Carter.

As reported previously, the MMAH has delayed its final decision on the final draft Official Plan forwarded by the Manitoulin Planning Board (MPB) due to concerns raised by the UCCMM.

The ministry did not issue its final decision on May 26 as had been anticipated, as the UCCM had requested more time to respond to the Official Plan.