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Kawartha Lakes stressing "responsible development" to provincial officials

DAN CEARNS, The Standard

KAWARTHA LAKES: City of Kawartha Lakes council is sending a message to the province of Ontario that they want "responsible development."

At a meeting on Tuesday, February 21st, councillors approved a memorandum from Mayor Doug Elmslie, which advised the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing "that the City of Kawartha Lakes Council does not support or endorse any further MZO (Minister's zoning order) requests, or amendments, for additional or new residential development outside of established urban settlement boundaries." The memorandum also called for this position to be revisited "following the conclusion of the City's Growth Management Study and associated Master Servicing and Transportation Plans, and [when the] Provincial approval of revised growth allocations for Kawartha Lakes to 2051 is granted."

An MZO is a tool developers can apply for from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing to fast-track development approvals and bypass some usual municipal procedures.

"Zoning orders can be used to protect a provincial interest or to help overcome potential barriers or delays to critical projects. If there is a conflict between a minister's zoning order and a municipal bylaw, the minister's zoning order (MZO) prevails," the Ontario government website explains.

In his memorandum, Mayor Elmslie wrote, "the direction of growth and settlement area expansion is being prescribed by landowners rather than through a Council-led process," and "the Province has not adjusted their own forecasted growth rates for Kawartha Lakes to justify this excess of housing supply."

The Mayor further explained the rationale behind his memorandum at the meeting. "It's not that we're anti-development or anti-MZO. What we are saying is we want responsible development. We want to move forward in a way that we develop, so all the infrastructure and all the necessary things are there to support that growth as it happens."

As an example, Mayor Elmslie said Ross Memorial Hospital needs to be prepared to handle a future increase in residents.

Ward 2 Councillor Pat Warren supported the memorandum. "I am moving this resolution because it is the right thing to do. We don't have the capacity on many levels to see this type of growth until we have a clear path forward," she said.

Ward 5 Councillor Eric Smeaton stressed this isn't a signal Kawartha Lakes is off limits for development in the near future. "We're not just saying no to a developer when they come to us with Scenario A. We are saying to all [developers] we have a growth management strategy you will participate in if you'd like to develop here. We guarantee that we have [the] capacity for anyone who wishes to develop here."

Ward 8 Councillor Tracy Richardson explained this memorandum is about taking "a step back and [making] sure we have everything in place moving forward."

"We are protecting the residents [who] are here now, and we are protecting the residents of the future," she added.

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