Wasaga Beach council OK’s floodplain zoning change
By Emily Innes, Collingwood Enterprise-Bulletin
WASAGA BEACH – There are now fewer barriers to building on the floodplains.
Council unanimously voted in favour of eliminating the requirement for the Holding Symbol for building on the floodplains along the Nottawasaga River.
Residents on the floodplains expressed their concerns at the Tuesday, June 11 meeting with letters to council and a presentation by Yvonne Fletcher.
“It is our concern that with this change, the due consideration and the attention is not being paid to the issues such as the impact of building on environmentally-sensitive land, affecting both wildlife and watershed,” she said. “We also believe the Holding (H) symbol was created to minimize the impact on the community, such as ensuring that necessary requirements of infrastructure are in place.”
Fletcher requested a delay on voting for the amendment and a forum to explain the purpose of the amendment to all citizens.
The town’s planner Nathan Wukasch said changes to the Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority made its application and the town’s H symbol in essence a duplication.
Wukasch said the town removed the requirement for a site plan last year and this is the implementation of that policy.
Site plan approval was $1,500 per residence, and the fee to remove the Holding Symbol was $800.
Wukasch said there are currently nine vacant properties on the floodplain and anyone looking to build would still need to seek approval from the NVCA and meet flood-proofing requirements.
Resident Victor Miller said he wanted to verify there will still be standards to preserve the wetlands.
“We want to protect our watersheds here in our community because we have a thriving community like no other and this is why we have chosen to live here and why people are moving here to raise their children because this is a unique area,” he said.
Mayor Cal Patterson said the land is still being protected.
“I can reasonably assure you and from the rest of council that the NVCA is looking after your interests as well,” he said.
Councillor Nina Bifolchi explained her reasons for supporting the amendment before voting.
“It is removing the town’s red tape, but not the requirements of the NVCA as the authority for those properties, so their policy will be applied to those properties to determine if development is safe and appropriate,” she said.
Other news from Wasaga Beach council:
• Council received a report from the Public Works meeting on June 6, at which they were updated on the process of dredging the Nottawasaga River. The E-B reported at the end of May that council was informed by the Ministry of Natural Resources that the Nottawasaga would require an environmental assessment to proceed with dredging. Kevin Lalonde, director of Public Works, explained a screening process must occur to determine what type of assessment must be done, either Category A, B,C, or D. They consider social, environmental and economic impacts. He said the assessment process is very formal and would last up to ten years.
• Council declared July 6 to 14 as Ontario Family Fishing Events, during which time a permit is not required to fish