To the Editor:
I would like to bring to the attention of all landowners in the United Counties of Prescott Russell, important information of which you may not be aware. Next week our mayors are getting ready to vote on changes to the Official Plan of UCPR. Once implemented it will be years, before we will be permitted to request amendments. One of the changes is to reduce some of the Rural (RU zoning) to Agricultural zoning. This, can be extremely limiting as to what a property owner is permitted to do, with his/her holdings.
As a perfect example, our small community of about 20 residents was placed in the Agricultural Zone, without any consultation, in the last Official Plan in 2014. Many of our homes have been in existence since the 1960’s, long before sweeping Planning Act measures. We own recreational waterfront properties. This is clearly indicated, on the RU zoning on our MPAC statements and Tax Roll Assessment Information. Now we are not! Our residential properties are designated under the Agricultural Policy Area, when all the properties fronting the Ottawa River and the Nation River are under the Rural Policy Area.
We have tried for several years to have this amended. We have legal counsel and an independent senior planner to support our request. I have even corresponded with the editor, Arlene Robertson and Helga Geerts, author of the original Provincial Policy Statement. Their feedback was that this is not what the PPS was all about. If you are not familiar with it, the Provincial Policy Statement, guides land use planning throughout the province and provides the framework for the municipalities Official Plan.
Also of note, the Vision Statement for an Ontario Planner is, and I quote: “With foresight, leadership, and professionalism, Registered Professional Planners create and manage change in the built, natural and social environments FOR THE COMMON GOOD.”
I ask you, what purpose is served if our small community is left in the Agricultural Policy Area? It changes nothing in anyone’s life except ours. Right along the Ottawa River and the Nation River many houses front along private roads or right-of-ways exactly the same as our legally deeded right of way.
Our former Mayor Mr. Sarrazin, and the current one, Mayor Mr. Laviolette, and our councilors all agreed that our situation needed to be corrected and be put back to what it really is: a residential rural area. As well, when presented to the Committee of the Whole at the United Counties of Prescott Russell meeting (February 12 2021, November 24 2021), the mayors lent their support to our request. Why isn’t it in the proposed Official Plan submitted for adoption on September 28?
They all have constituents who are going through similar dilemmas. These individuals are our elected representatives. Yes, the United Counties have a role to play, but ultimately should not the decisions such as these be deferred to the mayors and councillors.
That being said, all other properties, if you refer to the attached map, in yellow, have Rural designation. The white is the agricultural designation. The hamlet at the bottom of lot 24, is our community. I have petitions signed by the members in my community in agreement with the above.
In closing, I think it is every citizens duty to inform themselves of matters such as these. They are important to everyone.