By Connor Lynch
The draft official plan for Lambton County could see the municipality seizing private lands with no compensation, and impose costly environmental assessments on rural people and farmers looking to develop their land.
That’s according to the Concerned Landowner’s Legal Defence, a local grassroots organization in the county that’s looking to have the draft plan discarded.
The group has five general and 36 specific concerns with the plan that they say constitutes overreach of the county and puts property rights in jeopardy. Those include the proposed 120-metre buffer zone for development around any natural heritage sites, which would require a costly environmental assessment between $10,000 and $50,000, according to the organization. The organization also alleges that because the county’s draft plan proposes expanding the number of natural heritage sites but there is no more public land available for it, it will require the county to seize private land, with no mention of compensation currently in the plan.
The draft plan is going through public consultations, and is expected to come back to county council on April 5.
Spokesperson for the Concerned Landowner’s Legal Defence, Elizabeth Davis-Daggs, said the local plan goes beyond what’s required by the provincial policy statement, a public policy statement from the province that dictates land use policy across Ontario. “It’s even put in valley land as being protected. Anything that’s a 10 per cent slope. That’s not required in the policy statement.”
Huron County is currently facing public outcry for its proposed natural heritage plan. It was drafted in October 2016, has already seen amendments, and likely won’t be coming back to council until early 2018.