Thornhill firm chosen to proceed with Manitoulin official plan update

Tom Sasvari

The Recorder

GORE BAY—The Manitoulin Planning Board (MPB) has chosen a firm, MMM Group Limited, based out of Thornhill to proceed with an official plan update for the Island.

“We have hired a consultant, MMM Group Limited, to carry out the official plan update, and they are to be getting started very soon,” stated Elva Carter, planning board secretary-treasurer, on Monday. “The official plan process is a two-year project, and will involve meetings with the public to get input on the plans before the plan is put together and a draft official plan will be presented to the public prior to its final draft being carried out.”

“And we are looking to receive letters of interest from the general public to volunteer to participate on a citizen advisory committee for this official plan review,” said Ms. Carter. “This committee will be a little closer involved with the official plan, providing input into policy.”

The Planning Board had issued a request for proposals for the official plan update and, after due process, the board chose MMM Group Limited to proceed with the project, which will get underway soon, with public open houses proposed for the summer of 2012 and a final draft to be presented to the public by late summer or early fall of 2013. Ms. Carter pointed out the public meetings are to be carried out in the summer, so that not only full-time but seasonal residents of Manitoulin will have the chance to provide their input. “There will be lots of chance for public input at meetings being held in the summer and fall, and once the official plan is somewhat complete it will come back for public consultation before the local municipal councils accept the plan,” she said, pointing out final approval will be provided by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs.

The costs of completing the official plan is $94,501.90, with the local municipalities each paying a share of these costs, said Ms. Carter. She pointed out there was no funding available for the official plan process, but the planning board did receive funding for the Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping project.

MMM Group Limited is a qualified consulting firm with extensive experience in preparing official plans, including several in Northern Ontario. For example they completed a plan for the Township of Chapleau and the Sudbury East Planning Board.

The primary purpose of the Manitoulin official plan update is to address consistency with the Provincial Policy Statement, conformity with the Growth Plan for Northern Ontario, and the application of new planning tools and revisions to the Planning Act and the new Green Energy Act.

Ms. Carter further explained, “the GIS, which has been funded by FedNor and Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC), is continuing and the progress by our consultant, the Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre, has been proceeding according to the project plan to implement a Geographic Information System for the Manitoulin Planning Board and the partner municipalities.”

“The project will not be finished until later in 2012,” said Ms. Carter. “A lot of the collection data is nearing completion.”

“Jake Diebolt was hired as the Geographic Information System Technician/Coordinator and he assumed his position at the planning board office on January 3, 2011 and has the official plan, zoning, including all amendments, and planning related files entered in the GIS,” continued Ms. Carter. Gore Bay, Gordon/Barrie Island, Burpee-Mills, Billings, Tehkummah and Central Manitoulin have all received this mapping information and received training and can now access the official plan, zoning and some municipal infrastructure on ArcReader and updates can be accessed by FTP sites. For now, Cockburn Island has received the information as PDF files. The GIS information for Assiginack and the Town of Northeastern Manitoulin and the Islands (NEMI) is nearing completion.”

In addition, the MPB had a student intern, under the NOHFC program, who collected by GPS the 911 numbers, street/road names, culvert and sign information for the planning area, which has also been added to our GIS mapping, continued Ms. Carter.

“The GIS project will be ongoing during 2012 completing the data capture, delivering of training to the municipalities and the development of tools for mail list notification, PSAB export, etc,” said Ms. Carter. “The GIS project will provide the mapping necessary to implement a new Official Plan as mandated by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing.”