Rural Zoning Bylaw Discussion Paper

On Monday council agenda there is a report presenting a draft discussion paper for the rural zoning bylaw. As reviewed in the report the process to update it started in 2020 and we are now at the point that a draft bylaw will be soon presented at council. It’s impressive to read in the report how much public engagement there has been in this exercise despite the fact that throughout most of the period there have been lockdowns etc; clearly the use of the digital technology has been affectively leveraged. There will be a presentation at Council on Monday about the discussion paper; I strongly encourage those who are interested in this topic to tune in to the live stream to hear it as it will likely be an effective way to appreciate the issues and more importantly the proposed options for dealing with them in the new zoning bylaw.  I am interested to hear your thoughts about the rural zoning bylaw. If you are interested to communicate to Council you can submit your opinions on an email and send it to [email protected] by noon on Monday; and if you wish to make a verbal deputation register with [email protected] by noon on Monday. For the report and discussion paper see Council agenda and scroll down.

Our new OP, Our King, is not in force due to appeals; but it is the OP against which this new zoning bylaw is being developed. The OP identifies how the land can be used (e.g. is it for farming or is it for residential) The zoning is the way that we regulate how those uses are carried out, such as what kind of buildings can be built and their size.   An important principle identified in the discussion paper is that a new zoning bylaw is not the mechanism for changing what is existing today on a specific property; but it is the way to influence anything new to occur as the property owner changes what they want to do. As identified in the discussion paper this is important when the current use, even though legal and non conforming per the current zoning bylaw, is no longer desirable because of changing attitudes e.g, an aggregate depot; a new zoning bylaw, if crafted correctly, would set the stage for not allowing the current use to continue if there is a change of ownership or it could limit the expansion of the current use. Conversely, as our interest in promoting agritourism and local food has increased we may want to enable uses on certain properties whereas previously we were not inclined to do so.

  • Section 6.1 6.1 identifies an early important administrative choice that needs to be made: should we work towards one zoning bylaw incorporating the village zoning bylaws and the rural or should we have a separate rural zoning bylaw. The report nicely reviews pros and cons of the choice. I think that the rural one should be maintained separately. I think the issues, the characteristics of the rural landscape in terms of zoning bylaw are different enough that they should be separate. I also think it would be more ‘user friendly’ for a landowner in our rural lands to have a bylaw that which only deals with our rural landscape.

Section 6.3 identifies another important administrative choice: specifically should the zones be created such that the zones are the same across all of the seven Hamlets or should the zones be specific to one hamlet.  I am sure that there is commonality in some areas but as each hamlet does have unique characteristics I can’t imagine a ‘one-size fits all’ zoning regime being effective in maintaining unique characteristics of each hamlet which is a goal.

  • Section 6.4 deals with secondary units. In our new village zoning bylaws this has now been incorporated and we need to do this in the rural area also. I will be asking for clarification on definitions, so to speak. From reading the discussion paper I think the assumption is that these secondary units are in current existing residential structures or are to be incorporated into a new residential unit to be built; that it is not for a stand alone residential unit. Having said that, there are properties which have two or three houses today; I want to understand how this is addressed in the zoning bylaw.

6.9 deals with B&B’s and short-term rentals.   I think it’s very worthwhile to enable B&B’s in the “right “ place and indeed the zoning bylaw is the place to determine what that criterion should be. As reviewed in the discussion paper there are pros and cons with short term rentals and currently we do not have a mechanism for regulating/controlling. As written, it sounds like there is not going to be a firm proposal on the latter at this point although it is acknowledged that such should be done. I will be asking what is the plan for getting to a point up having a proposal for managing short term rentals.

  • 6.12 deals with natural heritage and hazard lands in the new zoning bylaw. The discussion paper identifies the various ways that this could be handled. Makes sense to me that we would essentially align with how these areas are handled in the village zoning bylaws; but, I am very interested to know more about the possibility of including floodplain documentation. I gather from what is said in the discussion paper the latter are not necessarily up-to-date and accurate and hence it may not be appropriate to include.

6.13 deals with climate change considerations for the zoning bylaw. I agree that we should be incorporating requirements for pervious surfaces as the whole topic of responding to heavy rainstorms is increasingly an issue of concern.

One Response to “ “Rural Zoning Bylaw Discussion Paper”

  1. Sherry Draisey says:

    many hamlets would benefit from traffic calming measures. And the addition of some form of roadside walkway would surely help. The hamlets most influenced by traffic, are of course the Regional Roads. It would be helpful to encourage York Region to consider both pedestrians and cycling in any Regional Road changes.

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