The Planning Process – And Why It Matters
Communities need to plan for the future. In Ontario communities, new developments undergo an extensive process well before shovels hit the ground. In a growing community like Lincoln, it may seem that development happens quickly.
In reality, there is much planning, consideration and opportunity for public engagement that are important aspects of the planning process. The process can often be years in the making and takes many factors into account – some within the Town’s control and some determined by legislation at higher levels of government.
Through various documents and bylaws, planning provides a framework for:
- smart development that meets the demands of our growing community;
- appropriate locations for buildings and structures like homes, shops, parks, offices, and industrial buildings;
- a network of infrastructure, including roads, water mains, sewers, and transit.
Successful planning protects the environment, supports economic growth, conserves cultural heritage and contributes to a unique sense of place.
So how does it work?
Potential development applications to redevelop sites in Lincoln are subject to local, regional and Provincial policies. These include:
- Planning Act – Planning in Ontario is governed by the provincial Planning Act. The Act sets out the steps that municipalities must follow during planning processes such as the requirement for public notice, and ensures municipalities make decisions that align with provincial policies such as environmental protection and the preservation of farmland.
- Provincial legislation – The Provincial Policy Statement and the Greenbelt Act which identify where and how much development can occur throughout Ontario
- Niagara Regional Official Plan – the blueprint for growth in all of Niagara region
- Town of Lincoln Official Plan – conforms to the Regional official plan and provides choices and opportunities for housing, employment, transportation, social, recreational and cultural amenities
- Zoning By-law - its purpose is to implement the Official Plan and applies to specific properties. It determines what kind of land uses are allowed, the building envelope/size and how they’re sited, and how such items as landscaped open space should be incorporated.
Applications go through a public process to ensure community feedback is taken into consideration and compatibility with the community is evaluated for each potential development. In most cases, upon the Town’s receipt of a planning application, nearby residents will receive notification, as per the Planning Act.