By Stephanie Sisler
Lincoln residents expressed concerns about the town’s draft Official Plan including red tape, land protection, and public health concerns at a Tuesday night meeting.
The Town of Lincoln is currently reviewing updating its Official Plan.
The new plan focuses on the importance of agriculture to the community.
The updated plan aims to ensure the sustainability of agriculture in the community.
• Preparation of policies to support, promote and sustain the farm community in conjunction with the regional value added agriculture study;
• Conformity with provincial policies and the regional Official Plan, and;
• Preparation of environmental policies to address the requirements of the greenbelt natural heritage system and how they can be balanced with the primacy of agriculture.
The review does not include any expansion of the urban area boundaries. It does focus on building a strong agri-food industry and ensuring vibrant, permanent small towns.
Over a dozen residents attended the meeting. A few expressed their concerns to committee.
A lack of inclusion regarding health priorities for residents in the plan, as well as constraints and red tape with all three levels of government, plus the Niagara Escarpment Act, Green Belt Act, and conservation authorities were also noted as concerns.
Brian Jaworsky also expressed his support for the overall direction of the proposed plan and urged council to seek a balance in future planning.
“To promote the town as a ‘centre of excellence for agriculture’ is truly a worthy goal,” he said. “Let’s make sure to strike the correct balance between existing urban areas and the continued protection of farmland, all the while respecting the small town feel.”
He highlighted a few things he noted during his review of the Official Plan and he came up with the following suggestions: Best farming practices need clearly defined rules and regulations that town staff will be able to enforce; Sustainability and the centre of excellence for agriculture must not be interpreted with the narrow regard that agriculture viability comes at the expense of everything else; Specialty agriculture will be the biggest boom in Lincoln; And the importance of preserving prime agricultural land.
He made a few other suggestions.
“Our water resource protection should be the backbone of everything we do; water will only get more valuable as time goes on,” he said. “Prudhommes Landing needs a closer look and needs to be cleaned up, to be able to provide a better presentation for both itself and the Town of Lincoln.”
He also suggested the town look into a Niagara rail system using existing infrastructure, and a bicycle network for healthy living.
He would also like to see more public involvement at the municipal level.
“Let’s figure out a way to increase general public involvement in this local level of government, which affects more of our incomes, lifestyles and overall general well being,” he said.
Other concerns received were about land designation changes possibly devaluing homes and negatively affecting land owners and future land use.
The town staff will consider all public comments received.