St. Clair Township (Photo courtesy of St. Clair Township website)St. Clair Township (Photo courtesy of St. Clair Township website)

St. Clair Township official plan tackles three emerging issues

A plan to make growth more seamless in the future has been outlined for a final time in St. Clair Township.

NPG Planning Solutions President Mary Lou Tanner presented official plan changes at a recent public meeting.

Policy updates have been recommended to cope with three emerging issues; short-term vacation rental units, the production of cannabis and green energy projects.

"The official plan is providing very clear direction that short-term vacation rentals will be three guest bedrooms maximum, the owner is to reside on site and anything greater than three bedrooms requires a zoning bylaw amendment application," Tanner told council.

Tanner said if you don't limit the scale and scope of the rentals, you get ones with up to eight bedrooms that become party houses.

"There are areas of the township, through the zoning bylaw, where you can prohibit them and we've been very clear in the policies that through the zoning bylaw you can identify areas where you just don't think they're appropriate," she said.

The draft document defines what a cannabis production facility is, identifies where they can be located and places limits on outdoor cultivation and processing.

"You don't have to permit them in agricultural areas," Tanner said. "We think that they can co-exist. You want greenhouses in agricultural areas, and [cannabis is] largely grown in greenhouses. The one thing we did do was [specify] outdoor growing of cannabis in the agricultural area is an absolute no go."

Rezoning will be required for wind and solar green energy projects if the document is approved.

Some councillors questioned the recommendation, since St. Clair Township has been on record as being an unwilling host to have wind turbines for over a decade.

"The challenge all municipalities have is you can not outright prohibit a land use," Tanner said. "So, what we have done is put in a list of criteria under which you'll assess green energy projects and it requires a rezoning. So, the decision rests with you. It's not an appealable decision, nobody can go to the Ontario Land Tribunal on these types of applications."

Clerk and Deputy CAO Jeff Baranek told Sarnia News Today the consultant will now make final changes to the document, before sending it back to staff for review.

Once that step is complete, the draft will be forwarded to council for approval.

Read More Local Stories