Niagara Escarpment (NEC) Wants to Expand It’s Jurisdiction
Love them or hate them, the Niagara Escarpment Commission is a regulatory agency that adds a layer of control over planning in our area. This 18 member body falls under the jurisdiction of the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and has the ability to make decisions on development matters within the NEC plan area.
The NEC is an important green space corridor that runs through central Ontario and it is internationally recognized as a designated UNESCO World Biosphere,Reserve. As it says on their website, the escarpment is a “landscape of rich biodiversity, home to hundreds of Ontario’s Species at Risk, vital watersheds, agricultural areas and 450-million year old geological history.” The plan basically is designed to preserve and protect these environmental aspects.
Starting last year, the province began a coordinated review of the four greenbelt plans in Ontario including the NEC Plan. Many recommendations have come out of that but one significant detail for our area is a proposal to significantly expand the size of the planning area under its jurisdiction in Grey County including in the Town of the Blue Mountains, Grey Highlands and Meaford.
The NEC is recommending an expansion of the plan area by about 32,500 hectares of land in the county be added. That’s 80,300 acres of land! About 21,000 hectares, 52,000 acres of that is in Meaford and has drawn strong objection from both Meaford and Grey County councils who fear losing further control of land use decision making in their areas.
There is still a process ahead through the next year that will allow for public input before final approvals are completed by the Province.
You can view the discussion papers, including maps on the NEC website.