The provincial government requires every municipality to create a Community Official Plan (COP) to identify housing needs for a 20-year period. The housing needs of Almonte have been identified without argument. However, the housing needs of the rural area have been the source of numerous and fractious discussions. To break the logjam, Council had a public meeting on June 10th and has asked members of the public to fill out a questionnaire. Opinions vary.
“No change is required” is the Planner’s professional advice, since he confirmed a supply of 700 possible lots which well exceeds the 20 year period. This is also the opinion of members of Council who were involved in the development of the COP. On the opposite side of the spectrum, some Council members have advocated adding another 1300 severed lots to the countryside as well as more estate lot subdivisions. Some say radical changes to accelerate rural growth will drive up taxes and could potentially reduce growth in Almonte and endanger payments for the new Waste-Water Treatment Plant. Others say accelerated growth in the country with cheaper lots will have no effect upon housing starts in Almonte, and can be accommodated with no impact upon taxes.
One thing is certain. The current COP, with its extensive public input and well-researched basis of growth for Mississippi Mills, is about to be reconfigured if proposals to make big changes to expand rural housing growth are adopted. The well-crafted balance between growth industry advocates and those who wish to preserve our rural and small town character may be changed to significantly increase rural residential growth.
Completing the questionnaire will be your opportunity to be heard in this divisive debate.