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Lake Erie North Shore Watershed Plan - Niagara Peninsula ...

Lake Erie North Shore Watershed Plan - Niagara Peninsula ...

LAKE ERIE NORTH SHORE

LAKE ERIE NORTH SHORE WATERSHED PLAN Land use changes in the Lake Erie North Shore watershed should also consider recommendations put forth by the Watershed Plan and supporting studies and documents where appropriate. Provincial Tier In Ontario, the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH) (Ministry of Public Infrastructure Renewal 2006) has been prepared under the Places to Grow Act (Ministry MPIR 2005), to help guide land-use planning decisions in the Greater Golden Horseshoe area. The Plan provides a framework for managing the projected future growth in the region by guiding decisions on a wide range of important planning aspects such as future transportation needs and infrastructure, natural heritage and resource protection, land use planning and housing requirements. The GGH promotes intensification of existing built-up areas and revitalization of urban growth centres while recognizing the vital economic and cultural importance of our rural communities. The GGH works with other government initiatives such as the Provincial Policy Statement (PPS) (Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing 2005a), which provides overall direction on matters related to land use and development in Ontario, and municipal official plans by providing growth management policy direction. The PPS recognizes that sustainability of Ontario‟s natural and cultural heritage resources over the long term is of key provincial interest given that that they provide significant social, economic and environmental benefits; “Strong communities, a clean and healthy environment and a strong economy are inextricably linked” (PPS 2005). Accordingly, while providing direction on appropriate development, the policies of the PPS provide protection for; resources of provincial interest, quality of the natural environment, and public health and safety by focusing growth within existing settled areas and away from sensitive or significant natural resources or areas that may pose as a threat to public health and safety. The PPS calls for the wise use and management of resources by imposing stringent limitations on development and site alteration for numerous natural settings, including, but not limited to; significant and /or sensitive natural areas (terrestrial and aquatic), lands adjacent to significant and /or sensitive natural features, and areas of fish habitat. The PPS also calls upon planning authorities to “protect, improve or restore the quality and quantity of water” (Section: 2.2.1) by means of for example, using the watershed as the ecological scale for planning activities; ensuring stormwater management practices have minimal negative impacts; and linkages and related functions between terrestrial/aquatic features are maintained. In terms of agricultural areas, the PPS calls for the protection of prime agricultural areas for long-term agriculture and related usage, and for respective planning authorities to designate specialty crop areas in accordance with provincial evaluations. In regards to extraction of mineral aggregate resources, the PPS requires extraction to be “undertaken in a manner which minimizes social and environmental impacts” (Section: 2.5.2.2), and rehabilitation of the extraction area is required to “accommodate subsequent land uses, promote land use compatibility, and to recognize the interim nature of extraction” (Section 2.5.3.1). In addition to requiring the wise use and management of resources, the PPS calls for promotion of healthy, active communities by for example, providing public accessibility to natural settings for recreation, including “parklands, open space areas, trails and , where practical, water-based resources” (Section: 1.5.1) including shorelines. 40

LAKE ERIE NORTH SHORE WATERSHED PLAN The PPS policies may be complemented by other provincial (e.g. GGH), regional (e.g. Regional Policy Plan, Haldimand Strategic Directions), and municipal policies (Official Plans) regarding matters of regional and municipal interest. Together, provincial plans, and regional and municipal official plans provide a “framework for comprehensive, integrated and long-term planning that supports and integrates the principles of strong communities, a clean and healthy environment and economic growth, for the long term” (PPS 2005). Region of Niagara: Upper Tier The Planning Act (MMAH 1990) designates the Policy Plan: Regional Strategy for Development and Conservation (RMN 2007a) as the paramount planning document for Niagara Region as stated in Section 27.1 of the Planning Act: “The council of a lower-tier municipality shall amend every official plan and every by-law passed under section 34 [addresses zoning by-laws], or a predecessor of it, to conform with a plan that comes into effect as the official plan of the upper-tier municipality”. In accordance with the GGH, PPS and other provincial policies, the Policy Plan outlines numerous regional policies and strategies addressing local interests. For instance; land use and development, agriculture, cultural and natural heritage and aquatic resources, and tourism and recreation are a few of the areas of interest addressed in the Policy Plan. In 2009, Region of Niagara updated the Urban Areas policies in the Policy Plan (Amendment 2-2009) to implement strategic directions of an extensive 5-phase growth management strategy. It is the intent of the Region of Niagara to “promote an integrated land use planning framework for decision making” that involves all respective stakeholders, and it is the position of the amended policies to “represent an opportunity for Niagara to affirm its commitment to building sustainable, complete communities” (RMN 2009 Section 2). Accordingly, objectives of the Urban Policies include strategies that are intended to guide decisions related to “land use planning, infrastructure development, natural and cultural resource management and fiscal planning” (Section 2.2). Strategies in the Policy Plan for implementing this balance include policies related to for example, urban structure, intensification, Greenfield areas and transportation corridors. The Policy Plan also outlines a number of objectives and strategies to maintain and foster a viable agricultural industry by preserving Niagara‟s agricultural lands and production through a multi-tier government coordinated effort by supporting the following policies; tariff/quota protection from imports (federal); adequate marketing and protection of unjustified taxes (provincial and local); and financial assistance and protection of unique and good agricultural lands are some of the local policies that the Policy Plan outlines. The environmental policies apply an ecosystem approach to the environmental policy framework by employing proactive sustainable principles. Some of these principles include: stewardship plus regulation; environmental protection plus enhancement; and ecosystem health and sustainability. These principles are also applied to the mineral extraction sector to ensure that these resources are not only available for future use, but the extraction and “management is compatible with the natural and human environment” (Section 7.E). Extensive trail systems such as the Trans Canada Trail, Welland Canals Trail and The Greater Niagara Circle Route not only provide an abundance of recreational opportunities for residents and tourists, but these trail systems link Niagara Region‟s 41

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