Lambton county council to vote on Sarnia’s official plan

Lambton county council to vote on Sarnias official plan

Lambton County council will soon get a chance to consider Sarnia’s official plan, recently rejected by county staffthat includes expanding the city’s built boundary in Bright’s Grove.

“I think we should at least put the county on the record at the political level, at county council, where they stand on this,” Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley said Monday.

The Bright’s Grove boundary expansion that would add 215 hectares south of Lakeshore Road, between Brigden and Waterworks roads, for development is the plan’s main issue, county planning officials said in December.

The provincial policy statement requires redesignating land already within the urban boundary before boundary expansion to accommodate projected growth, and Sarnia has more than 400 hectares of employment lands available, officials have said.

Sarnia council, which appealed the county decision late last year, agreed 8-1 Monday to table a decision on options about how to proceed with that appeal, giving time for the Lambton County council vote Bradley said is expected April. 5.

count. Terry Burrell voted against tabling.

If county council votes in favor of adopting the city’s plan as is, that settles the matter and the new official plan can take effect, Sarnia community services general manager Stacey Forfar said.

If not, Sarnia council, when it next meets April 17, can consider again its options to either take the matter to provincial tribunal, ask for provincial intervention, withdraw the Bright’s Grove boundary expansion proposal, or enter into talks with the county, Bradley said.

In early February, all five of Sarnia’s representatives on Lambton County council — with help from Point Edward, Warwick, Dawn-Euphemia and Point Edward representatives — won a narrow 20-17 victory to allow county council votes on official plans, if the affected municipality makes that request.

Under county council’s weighted voting system, Sarnia has 15 votes, or 40 per cent, among its five members.

Since 2002, a county bylaw has deferred the decision on official plans to city planners, county CAO Stéphane Thiffeault said in February. County council also voted to have that bylaw amended.

Even with county council getting a say, Sarnia Coun. Bill Dennis said he’s not confident Sarnia’s position will win out, and said neighboring municipalities view Sarnia as a competitor.

“I don’t disagree with you at all,” Bradley said.

“But I think it’s great that, then, those in the development community can see what we’ve been trying to deal with.”

count. George Vandenberg had suggested the city appeal for ministry intervention using the new community infrastructure and housing accelerator tool under the More Homes for Everyone Act, adding he received advice from Sarnia-Lambton MPP Bob Bailey that would be the best approach.

Sarnia-Lambton Real Estate board president Rob Longo also has called for the city to use that tool.

Vandenberg agreed with bringing the vote to county council first.

The official plan in limbo also proposes redesignating 34 hectares of lands southeast of Wellington Street and Highway 40 for residential development.

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