Last night at Council, we had before us a motion that, if approved, would move our municipality forward by updating the Promenade Plan. As residents may know, the Promenade Plan is a “secondary plan” which is a planning term for a how a municipality can set specific land use plans for a designated area of Town – in this case – through an amendment to the Official Plan (OP). The OP, along with secondary plans, such as the promenade plan are the means by which a municipality can articulate our community vision – if, how and where we grow and how we implement provincial and regional planning policies. These are the tools that are afforded to us by the province, and we need to ensure that we use them to the best and fullest extent possible.
Through my Notice of Motion, I was asking for Council support for a review and update of the now decade old Promenade Plan. Our community has changed over the past 10 years and our planning policies need to evolve to meet the emerging challenges and opportunities of our changing community. Given that we are currently updating our Official Plan, as is required by the Province every 10 years, I think it is time for the Promenade Plan to be updated as well as part of that process.
The Province and the Region have recently created MTSAs – Major Transit Station Areas. These areas are designated as areas where intensification should be concentrated. For our town, this area of intensification is located within the Promenade and specifically, around the GO station. The reason these areas have been identified for intensification is due to being located where transit and the infrastructure needed to develop already exists. That is the rationale for why municipalities should intensify in these areas. And rightfully so! it makes sense to intensify in areas around existing transit and infrastructure. But the question is who decides what intensification is? How high?? How dense? What type of built form?
Councils across this province hear the same thing over and over – we need to “intensify” – without any definition of what that means, let alone what it means in a particular municipal context like Aurora. It’s open to interpretation. But whose interpretation takes precedence? Each municipality is different, and intensification will have different limits in different communities. That is why an updated Promenade Plan – secondary plan – is vital for our community. We need to decide what intensification will look like in this area, and – through our OP – our community as a whole. We have the right and the responsibility to set the framework that allows us to remain a unique and vibrant community.
If we do not take this opportunity to set the policies for the MTSA’s and our promenade area, and articulate exactly what we as Town envision for growth in these areas, then others – such as the development community or LPAT – will decide it for us.
With both the Region and Aurora in the process of updating our respective Official Plans, this is the optimal time for us to conduct a review of and update to the Promenade Plan – and to include specifics about MTSA’s. With an approved updated OP and Promenade Plan, we will be well positioned to execute our vision for appropriate growth; growth that meets the needs of our community.
With the investments that we as a Town are making through the Library Square development and the investments in our town from the private sector we need to ensure that the OP and secondary plan(s) meets not only the vision for today but for our future. That’s how you get things done!
I was glad to see that Council unanimously passed this motion and that we will be moving forward in a positive direction for a better future for our Town.