Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee
December 2020 - ARAC agenda reviews budget, future zoning amendments, Conservation Act changes
The Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee approved the recommended 2021 Budget at its December meeting and also heard about the upcoming process for future zoning amendment changes and revisions to the Conservation Act.
The 2021 budget for rural activities totals over $3 million for operating, including staff, and $2.35 million for capital expenditures, including road projects, park improvements and expenditures on recreation and cultural facilities. This includes the planned resurfacing of Bankfield Road between First Line and Rideau Valley Drive North and the resurfacing of River Road between Mitch Owens and Flag Station Road. The budget was approved by City Council on December 9.
The Committee also heard about the process for approving general zoning amendments in 2021 to align existing zoning by-laws with the new directions outlined in the Official Plan. The process to make these changes is expected to take about three years and will include some smaller changes for rural villages. The MVCA will be monitoring these changes closely in the years ahead.
The Committee also received information about proposed changes to the Conservation Act that were included in the Ontario budget bill, approved on December 8. The changes will see the removal of public representatives from the Boards of Conservation Authorities and a subsequent increase in the number of municipal councillors who will sit on these Boards. For example, the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority has 4 public members and 2 municipal councillors on the Board under current legislation. The changes will also allow the Minister to overrule Conservation Authority decisions on development on wetland or on flood plains. Under the new rules, the Authority will only be able to appeal any requests for development on land owned by the Authority. This opens the door for future development in wetland areas and has generated considerable concern among environmental groups and Ontario residents concerned about development on environmentally sensitive land.