Northeast Town to leave Manitoulin Planning Board

NORTHEAST TOWN—The Northeast Town will be leaving the Manitoulin Planning Board (MPB) and becoming its own planning authority, said Northeast Town Mayor Al MacNevin, following a letter from minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing (MMAH) Bill Mauro last week.

“We have been working on this (leaving the planning board) for a while now, so we are pretty happy that we have finally been given approval,” said Mayor MacNevin. “The MMAH staff will be working with our staff and the planning board on a transition plan for us to pull away and establish our own planning authority.”

Mayor MacNevin said he was unsure of the number of members that would be on the new Northeast Town planning board, but that it would be made up of the municipality’s councillors.

“We will be staying with the MPB until our Official Plan is approved,” added the mayor. “Right now the MMAH and the various ministries are making comments on the draft OP and going back to our staff and our consulting firm JR Richards, but we believe the OP should be ready by September.”

“Over the past several years, the Northeast Town has expressed ongoing concerns with its membership on the MPB and a desire to become its own independent planning authority,” said the letter to the Northeast Town from Minister Mauro, which was carbon copied to the MPB and the mayors and reeves of Manitoulin. “The town has formally requested that I permit its removal from the planning board and grant it planning approval authority. Despite the considerable efforts of all involved, I understand that the board and the town have been unsuccessful in reaching a mutually-acceptable resolution of their issues.”

“After careful consideration of the information provided to me, I will reluctantly consider redefining the planning area to exclude the (Northeast) Town, the effect of which will be that the town will no longer be a member of the planning board,” continued Minister Mauro. “I will also consider delegating approval authority for land-division applications to the town and consider exemption the town from minister’s approval of Official Plan amendments. I have directed staff to prepare the draft documents that would put in place these changes for my review. Please note, however, that any changes would be conditional upon the town’s Official Plan coming into effect.”

The Expositor was unable to reach MPB Chair Ken Noland, but did speak with founding MPB member and Billings representative on the board, Billings Mayor Auz Hunt.

“I’m rather sorry to see this happen,” said Mayor Hunt. “The MPB has been together for 40 years and was working well for 40 years—it’s a shame to break it up. We started the planning board after the war (WWII). We, the other municipalities and ours, were concerned about new development. We were getting a lot of new summer development and didn’t have common rules and regulations in place.”

Mayor Hunt also noted how the Northeast Town’s contribution to the planning board’s finances, based on assessment, is one-third of the planning board’s overall budget and how the loss will be felt financially by the other municipal members of the board.

MPB Secretary-Treasurer Elva Carter said that it “was far to early” to know the ramifications of this decision on the MPB.

“The letter is somewhat vague,” said Ms. Carter. “It seems like there are still several hoops that they (the Northeast Town) will have to go through (until they are granted their own planning authority). We have a way to go before it is finalized.”

The Northeast Town staff is to be contacted by regional ministry staff shortly to arrange a meeting to discuss next steps.