If you want to talk about development in Guelph, or any municipality in Ontario for that matter, you have to start with the Official Plan. Every decision concerning what can be built, where it can be built, how it can be built, and what services it needs stems from a 403-page, living document that you’ve probably never read.
The City of Guelph website describes the Official Plan as “focused on sustainability and establishes policies that have a positive effect on Guelph’s social, economic, cultural and natural environment. The Official Plan strives to maintain a high quality of life for the residents of Guelph, reduce uncertainty concerning future development, and provides a basis for the Zoning Bylaw and other land use controls.”
Specifically, that means Urban Design, like how tall buildings can be and where you can put tall buildings. It also covers methods for sustainability and mitigating climate change, managing the various transportation methods in the city, the kinds of signage that’s allowed, the creation of new parkland and trails, and even the placement of public art. More than that, the Official Plan also isn’t just about managing today, it’s about planning Guelph for the next 20 years.
And who knows more about the Official Plan than Melissa Aldunate, the Manager of Policy Planning and Urban Design at City of Guelph? Her department is responsible for the management of the Official Plan, and the ongoing process of its updating. It’s work that requires co-ordination with all the city’s stakeholders, as well as staying on top of new Provincial guidelines and standards that might affect us locally. It’s kind of a big deal.
So this week on the podcast, Melissa Aldunate tells us about why we even need an Official Plan, and a bit about its history: What does the plan cover, why does it covers it, and how does the Zoning Bylaw comes into play when it comes to developments and proposals brought to the monthly planning meeting? She also talks about how the Comprehensive Bylaw review might affect the ongoing work on keep the Official Plan up-to-date, what other changes might be pending, and the occasional legal intricacies that result from updating the plan.
So let’s talk about planning officially on this week’s Guelph Politicast!
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Remember that the Politicast Podbean channel is also the host for podcast versions of Open Sources Guelph. The previous Thursday’s episode of Open Sources will be posted on Mondays.