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Bracebridge General Committee debate changes to development extensions protocol
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Bracebridge General Committee debate changes to development extensions protocol

Posted: 2024-06-07 07:30:44 By: thebay

Bracebridge General Committee debated changes to their development extensions protocol, in the June 4, 2024, meeting.

A robust discussion ensued as a result of staff request to approve an extension to Inveraray Highlands (Evertrust Development (Muskoka) Inc) for two years.

Given the frequency of these requests from developers, Councillor, Don Smith, proposed an amendment requesting that future extension requests go through Committee and Council.

He requested Committee agree to delete the item recommending “The Director of Planning and Development be delegated the authority to provide comments on further extension requests…”

He said, “As policy makers we need to be making that decision… It’s something that we need to do by making a statement as a committee and as a Council.”

His intent is to encourage development progress. He said, “We need to encourage developers to move forward with their projects… It’s a constantly changing marketplace and we see projects start up, slow down, get moving again, and I think that it’s incumbent on us as a Committee and later as a Council to hold whatever developer that comes forward to hold them to account.”

Councillor, Debbie Vernon, concurred with the issue of stagnant development projects. She said, “I think we need as a Council to keep track of development in our Town. We see it in other municipalities where there’s a number of housing projects on the go, and we need to keep the continuity going and to keep developers on track with their projects.”

Committee members discussed the challenges of streamlining extensions, such as the potential to hold up projects in the instance they didn’t agree to requests, and developers having to return to the application or approval process.

Smith clarified that the amendment wouldn’t hold up development. He said, “In two years if you’re not moving forward with your project then you will have to come back to Committee and Council to move forward.”

Director of Planning and Development, Cheryl Kelley, advised that each project is unique, with some warranting the need for encouragement, and others that are making progress despite needing extensions.

Smith suggested they “start drawing a clear line.” He added, “Looking forward we need to at some point say we’re going to be delivering that message of accountability in that we expect projects to move forward…making a statement today and repeating it with other projects that we’re making it clear that we’re not going to just automatically rubber stamp something.”

Mayor, Rick Maloney, expressed concern about going ahead with the request without having a formal policy in place.

Smith explained, “Because it’s a policy matter it’s important that it comes back to Committee and if we develop a policy then it’s a different story.”

He added, “I think it’s important that the development community starts to get the message that we’re serious about projects moving forward.”

Members discussed that the District would be involved as they have the final say once Council makes the approval. Kelley added that the District does have a policy in place and have recently “tightened their criteria.”

The amendment failed with a 4 to 4 vote, and the main motion to approve the requested extension was passed.