by Councillor John Edwards
On Thursday, March 6th the Mississippi Mills Council Chamber was packed with residents wanting to hear the Council debate about making significant changes to the Community Official Plan (COP). How a straightforward 5 year review ended up being a three year major rewrite is a topic for another time. However, the positive outcomes of the meeting are several.
Firstly, many, many residents from all walks of life attended and their presence was clearly significant and effective, despite no presentations from the public.
Secondly, the assembled public got to hear directly from their representatives on what they think. They heard that the Mayor and Councillor Abbott endorsed an additional 1300 rural severances and on the opposite side heard that the Planner said no changes were needed at this time given the 699 already available. Thirdly, the council committed to at least two meetings with the public to get meaningful input from them. Fourthly, the council committed to providing a fiscal impact study on the various forms of development being considered similar to what the City of Ottawa has done. Read City of Ottawa document.
Such a study has never been done in Mississippi Mills but the time has come to ask the ‘money’ question; What are the costs of development of the various housing types? Taxes are dramatically rising in Mississippi Mills (7% revenue increases over a 6 year period are forecasted). We simply cannot afford residential development models which further increase taxes. If we are truly committed to the best services at the lowest cost we must know the implications of our long-term planning decisions. It is a great decision that Council unanimously voted, for the first time, to ask the ‘money question’. I have attached the recent Ottawa Study for those who wish to understand and see for themselves what that Study says.
Of course, it may take time to do such a study justice in order for it to be meaningful. Let Council not be deluded, our citizens will demand, and frankly deserve, a full and professional study. I have every hope that Councillors can put aside their personal political ambitions during this election year. Surely, the Community Official Plan is greater than any Councillor and deserves not to be manipulated by personal political agendas narrowly focussed on ‘getting elected’.
In closing, the final authority and protector of the COP is the public of Mississippi Mills. It is their plan. When this is first and foremost in our minds it will not take Council three hours to decide to hold a public meeting. Obviously, Council as a whole is not there yet. Hopefully, the public can further educate their councillors on the high regard they have for the researched and balanced ideas ensconced in their COP.