The City of Guelph’s Official Plan Amendment for the Natural Heritage System
was approved by the Ontario Municipal Board on June 4 and is now in effect.
“The City’s Natural Heritage System is a combination of natural heritage features and areas including wetlands, rivers, woodlands, valleylands, wildlife habitats, restoration areas and wildlife crossings,” explained Melissa Aldunate, manager of policy planning and urban design. “The approval of OPA 42 brings into effect new Official Plan policies that demonstrate Guelph’s environmental commitment by providing a strong framework for long-term protection of the City’s Natural Heritage System.”
On June 4, the City submitted OPA 42, also known as the Natural Heritage System, to the Ontario Municipal Board for approval. The submission consolidated all of the decisions made on the appeals over the past three years. The Board issued a decision approving OPA 42, which came into effect as of June 4, 2014.
The Official Plan policies for the Natural Heritage System establish minimum standards for development within the city to protect natural heritage features and areas including:
· Greater protection of woodland and wetland features, including requirements for protective buffers.
· Protection of portions of the Paris Galt Moraine.
· Support for the management, enhancement and restoration of the City’s Urban Forest and the Urban Forest Management Plan.
About the Official Plan – Envision Guelph
Guelph’s Official Plan, Envision Guelph, will direct growth and development over the next 20 years. The policies included in the plan encourage well-designed, walkable, transit-friendly neighbourhoods; promote economic vitality and innovation; support social well-being; and incorporate goals of Guelph’s Community Energy Initiative.
“Guelph values its rivers and green spaces, and the City’s Official Plan continues to make the environment a priority—protecting, preserving and enhancing the city’s natural assets and ecological systems as the city continues to grow,” said Aldunate.
Guelph’s Official Plan review process was undertaken in three phases. Phase 1 dealt with Official Plan Amendment 39, which brought the City’s Official Plan into conformity with the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe. OPA 39 is now in effect. Phase 2 dealt with Official Plan Amendment 42, which introduced policies for the Natural Heritage System. OPA 42 is now is effect. Phase 3 deals with Official Plan Amendment 48, and is the final phase of the Official Plan Update. Phase 3 ensures that Guelph’s Official Plan is in conformity with provincial legislation and is consistent with the Provincial Policy Statement. OPA 48 is currently under appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board.