Still time to make your views heard on official plan

Manitoulin is in the process of developing an updated Official Plan, the document that sets out the Island’s guidelines for land use. The new Official Plan, when it is approved and put into service by the Manitoulin Planning Board, will supercede the original document that has been in place since 1979.

The process of consultation by public meetings has passed and the public will not be involved in this face-to-face way for another year.

In the meantime, however, the process remains open to public access via the Internet and Manitoulin citizens’ opinions can be registered in this way.

In fact, the same displays that members of the public saw at the three Island public meetings (Gordon/Barrie Island Township Hall, Mindemoya Community Hall and the Northeast Town Rec. Centre) are replicated at the website, as are the workbooks that were made available as part of the public process and there is the opportunity for the public to register their observations and recommendations, just as they did at the public meetings.

The website address is: www.manitoulinplanning.ca.

All of this detail is important to the public if people still want to comment on Manitoulin’s planning priorities for the next generation and more.

It may be useful for municipal staff and elected officials from Manitoulin’s municipalities to register their comments in this way as most of them were too busy during the month of July to attend any of the three public meetings in person.

That, however, is the beauty of the virtual world since their (and everyone’s) observations can still be noted for consideration as the consultants craft the draft planning document.

It is not surprising that municipal staff and elected people did not attend the public meetings for the work of the Manitoulin Planning Board, though enormously important, proceeds largely without fanfare and so is taken for granted by virtually every resident of Manitoulin.

The Manitoulin Planning Board, however, has had only two managers in its 33 years of existence so the body of knowledge available from the staff that toils in the tiny office in the Gore Bay Post Office’s second storey is considerable and vitally important to the municipally-appointed members of the Manitoulin Planning Board when they meet monthly and are advised of both the minutiae of the Manitoulin Official Plan, local precedents and the broad brush of Ontario’s Planning Act.

Just now is a useful time for ordinary citizens to take the time to visit the planning board’s website in order to familiarize themselves with the process of change and, in so doing, gain some awareness of the work of the Manitoulin Planning Board.