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Stratford council passes first reading of major zoning and development bylaw

Stratford Coun. Keith MacLean, chairman of the planning, development and heritage committee, speaks about a proposed new zoning and development bylaw during the town’s regular monthly council meeting Nov. 14. Council passed the first reading of the bylaw that aims in part to create more affordable housing in the municipality.
Stratford Coun. Keith MacLean, chairman of the planning, development and heritage committee, speaks about a proposed new zoning and development bylaw during the town’s regular monthly council meeting Nov. 14. Council passed first reading of the bylaw that aims in part to create more affordable housing in the municipality. - Jim Day

A new zoning and development bylaw that will allow for more diverse housing in Stratford passed first reading Wednesday night.

Coun. Steve Ogden, who is mayor-elect for the municipality, was the only dissenting vote.

Ogden told council the problem he has with the bylaw is he feels residents of the town are not familiar enough with what it proposes.

“I just feel we are a little premature giving it first reading…a few more months wouldn’t hurt,’’ he said.

Coun. Keith MacLean, who chairs the planning, development and heritage committee, countered that the proposed bylaw has been well publicized not only through public meetings but also via media coverage.

“I never tried to do what was popular,’’ said MacLean. “I tried to do what was right.’’

Outgoing Mayor David Dunphy said he supports the bylaw, noting if passed it would help improve the affordability of housing in the town.

The bylaw aims to allow more diversity in the town’s overall housing inventory with the allowance for smaller lot sizes, a broader range of permitted uses, and a new allowance for secondary suites.

In order to align with other municipal and provincial legislation, the new bylaw must also allow for the following: cannabis retail operations, digital reader board signage, new election signage provisions, more defined child care uses, new agricultural-related uses, and the incorporation of the Stratford Business Park Development Standards.

A special council meeting will be held at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 21 to hold second reading and potential adoption of the bylaw.

“After almost three years of work by this council we are pleased to be able to finish our term with the anticipated approval of this bylaw next week,’’ Dunphy, who did not re-offer in the recent municipal election, said in a prepared statement.

“I would like to thank all who participated throughout this process in the numerous opportunities to provide feedback both in person or in writing, and to the work of this council and staff in compiling that feedback into this new bylaw.’’

Planning staff will be reviewing the town’s official plan against the new bylaw to ensure that both are in agreeance. The Zoning and Development Bylaw will also need to be approved by the province’s minister of Communities, Land and Environment.

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