On Feb. 1, Lambton County council is expected to review its new Official Plan, which is a roadmap for the county’s future.
A group called “Concerned Landowners Legal Defence” has hired the London firm of Cohen Highley to prepare a legal letter identifying sections the group wants changed to protect landowners.
“There are many unsettling aspects to this OP that concerned landowners believe must be removed or amended before it is passed,” said Elizabeth Davis-Dagg, a former deputy mayor of Lambton Shores.
The group, in an “urgent” appeal, spelled out it concerns here:
Some over-arching problems are:
1. First, the Plan projects a population decrease of 15,000 people (which is almost 12% of our population) and a workforce decrease of 18,000 (which is almost 24% of our workforce) by 2031. The plan fails to provide a roadmap for economic success for our County even though it will soon become our County’s guiding document.
2. Second, the plan’s projections to increase woodlands, wetlands, primary & secondary corridors, vegetated buffer strips and wildlife habitat will necessitate that private land must be surrendered because there are no additional public lands available on which to achieve these objectives.
3. Third, the primary & secondary corridor system which previously was included in the appendix only for information purposes has now been expanded and inserted into the Natural Heritage System which is a formal part of the Official Plan. The OP makes it clear that the long-term objective for these corridors is to return them to a “vegetated” or wild state.
4. Fourth, the number of areas identified as environmentally sensitive have expanded dramatically and this draft plan requires Environmental Impact Studies (EIS) to be completed for development 400’ around each of these the areas. In most cases, the cost of completing these Environmental Impact Statements is often $10,000 to $50,000 because they include Species at Risk Studies, Migratory Bird Studies, Archaeological Studies and other studies that must be completed by an approved professional. Keep in mind that even after paying this money for an EIS there is no assurance that the project will proceed. This will most-certainly cause a serious chilling effect on building/development and undermine the economic vitality of our County.
5. Fifth, the public has not been properly informed of the land designation changes and the increased regulations found in the document which is 20,000 more words than our current Official Plan. Many landowners will only learn of the changes when they embark on the building process, initiate site alteration or ask for accommodation through the development approvals process.
A group of concerned Lambton County landowners named “Concerned Landowners Legal Defence” have joined together and hired the London legal firm Cohen Highley to prepare a legal letter that identifies specific sections of the OP that need to changed before being passed. In addition, they have produced a document that consolidates the troubling draft OP maps as well the sections of the draft OP that are referenced in the Cohen Highley letter.
We ask that you review the letter and reference document found at www.lambtonshores-e-luminator.com and, if you agree with their content, endorse the letter by sending an email to Elizabeth Davis-Dagg ([email protected]) and requesting that your name and address be added. Please note, you must include both your name and address. Also, please disseminate this letter to all of your contacts who are landowners in Lambton County. The legal letter will be submitted to County Council at noon on Tuesday, January 24th in order to be included in the February 1st County Council agenda when this draft Official Plan could be passed. All requests for endorsement must be submitted as soon as possible.
We are seeking endorsements from as many organizations/associations and individuals as possible. If you a member of a land-related organization or association in Lambton County, please encourage it to endorse the content of this legal letter and/or send it to their membership for endorsement.
You must keep in mind that if you do not participate in the public process for the Official Plan review, you do not have standing to appeal it to the Ontario Municipal Board after it is passed. You have to make a submission in writing explaining to Council why you think something is bad planning or outside of its jurisdiction during this window of opportunity (that could end on February 1st) in order to appeal in the future. According to our legal counsel, endorsement of this letter (ie. providing your name and address) constitutes sufficient participation to appeal at a later date.
If you wish to read the entire draft Official Plan and draft maps, you will find them by clicking “Official Plan Review” on the bottom right hand corner of the home page of the Lambton County website: www.lambtononline.ca.
The legal letter was crafted to be respectful and provide workable steps forward for council to take. If you would like to communicate a stronger message to council, please ask Elizabeth ([email protected]) for a document entitled, “A Declaration Against Adoption of the LCOP.” Separate endorsements are being collected for that document.
Thank-you for your help with this. Time is of the essence.
On behalf of Concerned Landowners Legal Defence