Corp Comm Connects

Tying together a township: King Official Plan

May 21, 2014
By Edward LaRusic

After over 40 years, the Township of King is looking to update its official plan. In doing so it will tie together a heap of recent and future policy changes, figure out how best to grow and enhance its rural economy.

Mayor Steve Pellegrini told NRU that an updated official plan would help tie together a number of city initiatives.

Among these initiatives is an integrated community sustainability plan the township completed in 2012 and an economic development strategy adopted in December 2013.

Additionally, it has underway a housing and residential intensification study, transportation master plan study and community improvement plan.

“We have all these balls flying in the air and we need a net to catch them all.”

King’s official plan hasn’t been updated since 1970, but it has been amended over 80 times. It’s also somewhat unique in that it has an overarching official plan, which is then refined with four secondary plans. There are three major communities in the township: King City, Nobleton and Schomberg. Each has its own community plan. There are also hamlet plans for the municipality’s six hamlets.

King planning director Stephen Kitchen thinks Pellegrini’s net metaphor is apt. He said the update would allow them to perform their greenbelt conformity and growth plan exercises, as well as prepare an intensification strategy and source water protection plan.

“We have fairly detailed secondary plans for our three main villages and hamlets. But they tend to be standalone documents. Part of what we’re hoping to do through this exercise is to meet local objectives, as well as regional and provincial objectives, and provide an overarching policy direction to our various community plans.”

Kitchen said that the intent of the update is to “provide some overall guidance to each of our community plans.” The community plans are not being modified with this official plan update, although it is expected they will be updated following the review.

“This is our opportunity to update our plans, tie in the Oak Ridges Moraine [conformity] work that’s been done, and set the overall policy direction.”

One of the challenges, Pellegrini said, is handling the growth that is expected. The municipality has approximately 20,000 residents and is expected to grow to 34,900 by 2031 under the York Region Official Plan. This poses a serious challenge when coupled with the considerable portion of King that is rural and protected under the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan.

“Everybody is very conscious that the environment plays number one, and it always has in King, and we want to continue that,” said Pellegrini. “There are competing interests now that there is infrastructure available (i.e., sewers and water). It makes the land within the community very desirable and there’s competing interests for development. [An updated official is] there to have a solution for all these competing interests and to lay everything out in a nice package.”

Kitchen agrees, noting that the addition of infrastructure such as sewers has created “a lot of pent-up demand” for development in the township’s villages. But they’re also looking at this official plan review as a way to explore new opportunities, such as those created under the 2014 Provincial Policy Statement.

“Historically the town has been very restrictive in terms of the uses in the rural areas. We are starting to look at uses that are agriculturally-supportive uses and allowing them in the rural areas. For example, we’ve been approached by someone who would like to do an equine manure recycling facility. The way the previous PPS was set up, you could have something like that, but only to service an existing farm, not the entire rural area. It’s certainly an example of a use that’s more suitable in a rural area than putting it in an industrial one. We’ll be looking at the potential [under the 2014 PPS] to have agriculturally-supportive uses that are located in our rural area to help our rural economy.”

The call for proposals to undertake the review of King Township’s official plan ended May 15. Kitchen said that they’re hoping to award the contract in early June, with the entire exercise finishing in December 2015.