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LETTER: Get to know your municipality's Official Plan, reader says

From shaded playgrounds to creative housing projects, residents know what their communities need, says letter writer
2019-08-28 Barrie water tower RB
The City of Barrie water tower on Mapleview Drive West. Raymond Bowe/BarrieToday

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If you have ever had concerns about issues in Simcoe County, such as development on agricultural land, disappearing tree cover, protection of water sources or diversity of transportation and housing options, then your municipal Official Plan is a document you need to get to know.
This policy document defines allowable land uses for the next 20 to 25 years. If you happen to live in the city of Barrie, or in Springwater, Essa or Ramara Townships, this is your chance to have your say on the direction of your OP. Official Plan reviews are ongoing in those communities and planning departments are looking for your input.
Official Plans are subject to provincial policies such as the Planning Act, the Provincial Policy Statement and the Growth Plan. This can be a good thing — the Growth Plan requires municipalities to include climate change policies in their Official Plans.
Residents know best what their communities need, whether it’s complete roads that accommodate more than cars, shade trees in playgrounds and along sidewalks or creative housing options.
Lower-tier municipalities, such as townships, must conform with the Simcoe County Official Plan, which in turn must undergo a review: a Municipal Comprehensive Review (MCR), which implements key policies related to growth management such as population allocation or boundary expansion.
The MCR has a profound effect on communities. Although public input isn’t mandated, it’s worth offering your opinion on growth to Simcoe County while this review is underway. It’s your chance to influence the future. 
Anne Learn Sharpe