MACHAR – Machar is open for business.
Mayor Doug Maeck said the Township is looking to identify areas along the South River and Mountainview Road highway interchanges that could accommodate future development. The possible growth opportunity has become part of the discussion as the Township puts the finishing touches on its draft Official Plan.
“We see some potential in that area for commercial development,” said Maeck. “If someone wants to put in a shopping centre or a service station in that area, we need to have policies in place for that.”
The Township has held two public meetings to discuss the draft plan, as well as having a steering committee made up of residents, staff members, and council members involved throughout the discussion, which has been on-going for the past year and a half.
The Province is currently reviewing the draft before it will be sent back to the Township for a final public meeting to be held at the end of the month.
Maeck said, based on public input, protecting the natural characteristics of the land are top priority moving forward, but the four-laning of Highway 11 has opened up the area for future economic growth and the township is preparing for it.
Maeck said the new plan is divided into six key areas: shoreline, highway commercial, rural, rural employment, natural heritage protection, and community. Each of these areas will have their own policies and practices.
“We have a number of areas that pose an environmental impact,” said Maeck, noting shoreline and wetlands specifically. “We want to make sure those areas are protected.”
Maeck said community members raised a number of issues during the public information sessions in regard to environmental features of the township.
“People want to make sure we recognize and maintain the rural characteristics and quality of life,” said Maeck. “We really want to protect our shorelines and have policies in place for development and water quality.”
According to Maeck, Eagle Lake is currently at capacity and Bray Lake is almost there as well.
Maeck said residents also want firm regulations on the development and expansion of pits and quarries, as well as the commercial use of all local natural resources.
Although residents have expressed an interest in maintaining the status quo as far as physical features, Maeck said the issue of job creation also ranked high in discussions, which makes growth and development necessary in the area.
The draft document will replace the current Official Plan, which was approved by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing in 2003.
“We’ve really just modernized it,” said Maeck. “Hopefully we’ve done enough public consultation so far that we can move forward without any major changes.”
Maeck said he hopes to have the plan finalized before the end of the year. Once approved by council, he said the new Official Plan will provide guidance for the next 20 years.
“This will be the blueprint of our future,” he said.
The public meeting is being held on Monday, Oct. 29 at 6:30 p.m. in the municipal office.