Mark your calendars because the time to weigh in on how Chelsea development will happen for the next decade or more grows near.
The three public, in-person consultations on the municipality’s draft master plan bylaws will take place at the Farm Point Community Centre on May 18 at 7 p.m., at the Hollow Glen Community Centre on May 19 at 7 p.m., and at the Meredith Centre on May 28 at 9 a.m.
“This is a very important document. The last one was updated in 2005,” Chelsea Mayor Pierre Guénard told the Low down.
The bylaws will be presented and explained and people attending will have the opportunity to comment and ask questions.
Master plans are a municipality’s road map for development and this is residents’ best chance to suggest changes in person. Chelsea council adopted the draft master plan bylaws in late March.
Guénard said English translations of the bylaws will be available on the municipal website in early May.
Invites to the consultations and pamphlets explaining the changes and approval process will be mailed to each Chelsea residence, Guénard explained.
Residents have already provided feedback on the bylaws through email and during the April council meeting.
“People salute most of the changes we brought forth,” Guénard said.
He said that Chelsea aimed to protect the environment and reduce sprawl outside of the urban perimetres in Chelsea centre village and Farm Point. Urban perimeters allow for area-specific laws to be passed, such as the big box store and drive-through restaurant ban in the centre village. These urban perimeter areas also must be fully built out or densified before developments are allowed outside those zones.
“The idea is really to focus on sustainable development practices [which balance the environment, society, and economy],” Hollow Glen Coun. and planning and sustainable development committee chair Kimberly Chan told the Low Down.
She said that the plan’s focus on environmental protections affects residential and commercial developments. For example, the bylaws encourage development on certain parts of a lot to keep the rest of it green.
Guénard and Chan both said that they’ve heard requests from residents to enact more environmental protections.
“What people don’t want to see is suburban sprawl,” Chan said.
These draft bylaws do that by identifying zones of high conservation value or that are used as ecological corridors by wildlife. These zones have stricter rules for building, such as no fences and a five metre setback from buildings where trees can be cut.
Minor exemptions, which allow applicants to slightly bend development bylaws pending council approval, won’t be granted in wetlands in these zones, Guénard said.
But those are the bylaws as they are drafted now. The coming consultations could cause Chelsea to revise bylaws to push environmental protections or development even further, if that’s what residents show up and say they want.
Residents are also encouraged to read the bylaws available at chelsea.ca/plan and share their opinions, comments and suggestions with the municipality by emailing email@example.com.