Northeast Town council passes comprehensive zoning bylaw

Swing Bridge Little Current

Ward 1 Island residents see concerns met

LITTLE CURRENT—After months of work and consultation, the Northeast Town passed its comprehensive zoning bylaw during the November 6 meeting of council. The new zoning bylaw combines the previous rural and urban bylaws.

CAO Dave Williamson began by commending council on its work on the bylaw. He noted that a year ago council started the project, a requirement of its new Official Plan.

The zoning bylaw was reviewed numerous times, including public consultation, Mr. Williamson reminded council.

“At the end of the day, no document is going to please everyone,” he added, noting the “delicate balance” of protecting the environment and promoting development.

The budget for the document was $22,000 and nine months but ended upcosting $27,000 and taking 12 months to complete.

After reviewing a few recommended small changes to the bylaw, Councillor Laurie Cook again raised her concerns with the zoning of islands, which under the new document would be zoned shoreline residential.

“Residents of Ward 1 have been asking for recognition that the islands are separate,” she said. She asked that the islands of McGregor Bay and Bay of Islands be designated as shoreline residential islands (SRI). “This would at least give them more protection,” Councillor Cook said.

“What are we protecting them from?” asked Councillor Paul Skippen.

“There is worry about the fragile ecosystem that would suffer from development,” Councillor Cook responded.

Councillor Michael Erskine asked what impact the SRI designation would have on staff and the re-working of the document.

Mr. Williamson asked council what would happen if they begin to differentiate. “What about Bedford, the Ducks?” he asked. “Do you want to get into a position when there isn’t standardized zoning? Shoreline residential is designed to do the things Councillor Cook is saying, but standardization is key.”

Councillor Cook said that while she recognized the importance of having a standardized document, previously the islands were recognized as ‘hazard’ and said all zoning requests had to come before council for approval.

“So many people came to council with their heartfelt pleas,” Councillor Cook said of a previous meeting of council on the subject which saw a full house of Ward 1 residents in attendance.

“It’s really just a name change, from hazard to SRI.”

“So people would need council’s permission to build?” Mayor Al MacNevin asked.

“A number of the islands are already zoned shoreline residential,” Mr. Williamson explained, giving a background on how the islands ended up with the zoning definition of hazard some 35 years ago.

A motion was made by Councillor Cook to change the designation of McGregor Bay and Bay of Islands islands to SRI. The motion was seconded by Melissa Peters. A recorded vote was requested. Councillors Erskine, Dawn Orr, Bill Koehler, Marcel Gauthier and Cook voted in favour of the changes proposed. Councillors Peters, Skippen, Bruce Wood and Mayor MacNevin voted against the motion. The motion carried.

A second motion, to pass the zoning bylaw as amended, was carried.