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Limiting the sprawl

THUNDER BAY -- Many of the proposed changes to the city’s official plan are designed to limit urban sprawl.

THUNDER BAY -- Many of the proposed changes to the city’s official plan are designed to limit urban sprawl.

City supervisor of policy and development Anne Dawkins says the planning division is looking at ways of keeping rural land areas intact for their primary purposes, which are mainly resource based.

“In order to protect land for those preferred land use you limit residential development,” Dawkins said at a public feedback open house session on Tuesday at the St. John Ambulance headquarters.

“Residential in the rural areas is actually seen as incompatible with many of the resource uses.”

That includes limiting subdivisions to two areas in the southern portion of city limits.

Dawkins said the two hamlets, one between Highway 61 and 20th Side Road and the second between Rosslyn Road, 25th Side Road and West Arthur Street, will allow developers to fill in partial residential areas rather than creating completely new divisions.

It serves as infilling rather than spreading, she said.

Development consultant Stefan Huzan says there are significant reductions in development potential that go too far beyond achieving an urban and rural residential balance.

He said while compact development and measures to reduce sprawl are generally positive, it might be too restrictive with well-documented needs for more housing.

“To slow down and add impediments and barriers to the development of new housing doesn’t seem to jive with that objective,” Huzan said.

“Any steps to increase the supply of lots is welcomed and sought rather than increasing the barriers.”

Huzan, who worked for the city in the planning department for nearly 30 years, says the proposed changes are causing frustrations to developers and property owners alike.

One of the most common concerns he keeps hearing is the new restrictions on the severance of lots.

“For people who had invested in land with the idea of someday in the future of sever it and give it to (a family member), you can’t do that. You lose half your investment,” Huzan said.

Dawkins acknowledged the severance issue has been one of the most often discussed topics at the open house, saying city representatives had heard from close to 20 concerned residents.

The new proposed plan still has to be voted on and approved by city council before becoming official.

It is still unsure when the draft of the new original plan will be presented to council. Dawkins said the original target was the June 15 meeting but it might have to wait until September after the summer break.


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