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County Official Plan to address substantial area growth

county official unveil Official Plan

The physical makeup of the County of Essex is changing, and it’s changing fast.

In order to accommodate the huge projected population growth, drastic adjustments are going to have to be made in order to create jobs and build housing.


The county presented its draft Official Plan recently at the McGregor Community Centre, which will map out a strategy for growth over the next few decades.


“Last time we did the growth projection, the level of growth was stagnant. Now it’s very substantial,” says County of Essex manager of planning services Rebecca Belanger.


Over the next 30 years, the population in the county is expected to increase from 199,100 to nearly 315,000 and the fastest growing segment is those 75-years-old plus. One piece of information shared at the open house indicated that between 1,000 to 1,400 housing units per year will be needed. 


Housing is one of the biggest issues facing the region.


“There were no surprises,” said consultant Mary Lou Tanner of NPG Planning Solutions. “It was figuring out a plan to find a solution for housing affordability.”


According to Belanger, finding the space to build housing is going to be a very big challenge.


“Several of the individual municipalities require additional land to accommodate the residential and employment growth,” noted Belanger.


When asked by the River Town Times to elaborate, she said that developers are going to have to build up.


Current data shows that Tecumseh has 91 units per hectare while Amherstburg is on the lower end of comparability at 44 units. 


“That is one of the challenges. The Official Plan takes a step forward and encourages greater intensification targets.”


An Agriculture Specialty Crop Study to identify valuable lands that require additional protection to ensure they can be utilized to their fullest potential was highlighted. Also highlighted was a  Complete Streets Transportation Policy and design approach that requires streets to be planned, designed and operated in order to have safe, convenient and comfortable transportation for all ages and abilities.


“Our current Official Plan dates back to 2014 so we are definitely due for a review. It’s such a comprehensive batch of work,” said Belanger.


The next step is to follow up on comments coming out of the Open House and from the seven municipalities followed by a public meeting in the fall. After that the Official Plan will be presented to county council and it also requires approval by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing.


Anyone wishing to view the Official Plan, or make comments, can visit the County of Essex website at www.countyofessex.ca

 

 

 

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