Perth council hears recommendations from Official Plan preliminary review

Town of Perth
The Town of Perth dove into the preliminary review of its Official Plan on March 12, looking at recommendations by their consultant. Photo credit: Laurie Weir.
Posted on: March 13, 2024

Getting feedback from Indigenous communities at the top of the list


A three-hour special committee of the whole meeting in Perth on March 12 reviewed preliminary recommendations of the town’s preliminary planning and policy review.

Forbes Symon, consultant with Jp2G Consulting Inc., spoke to the recommendations from the review and next steps. 

An Official Plan (OP) helps to shape the physical and social structure of municipalities, guiding development decisions, and ensuring sustainable and equitable growth for the benefit of present and future generations. It is a comprehensive document that studies land use planning, growth management, infrastructure planning, environmental protection, community services and facilities, social and economic development, and public participation and accountability.

Symon said he was pleasantly surprised by the public feedback on the OP. 

Coun. Jim Boldt was concerned with requests for rezoning. 

“We are constantly having people want to change zoning to accomplish what they want, not necessarily what is best for the community,” he said. At what point does the town say no to requests for rezoning? If someone purchases a home in the town, they don’t want to worry about a shopping mall going up behind them.

Symon said that the way planning is done in communities now everyone is being challenged by traditional standards. 

“Zoning and our vision of the ideal that is in zoning should not be a barrier for good ideas and good design, and thoughtful change within a neighbourhood. I think the idea that zoning is static is something that is no longer the case,” Symon said. “I think what we need are policies that give us direction and guidance on how we fit new into old … that change is inevitable. There is nobody that should be moving into a neighbourhood in this day and age thinking that everything is going to stay static and it’s not going to change. That’s just not realistic anymore.”

Symon recommended a toolkit to help with the change to better manage it, “because you’re not going to stop the change.”


A critical element Symon said was engaging Indigenous communities. “You have retained the services of a consultant and I’ve worked with that consultant in the past. I have a very clear idea of how Chief Richard Lalonde can see improvements to your plan so that they reflect traditional Indigenous values,” he said. 

Symon said the town should have information about pre-colonial occupation, working with language from other communities that has been used. It would tell the story of the lands pre-1800s. 

“We should also have very clear policies on when archeological assessments are triggered and what happens when pre-colonial discoveries are made,” he said. 

The other value area is related to the natural heritage and water systems, which is fundamental.

“There will be a need to speak about engagement and how we community with our First Nations communities with respect to natural heritage.”


Flood plain risks and the need to plan for infrastructure are other critical pieces to the updated OP. Symon said Perth was leading Lanark County in their climate change plans.

“You’re very progressive in how you deal with stormwater management, and how you’ve been minimizing infiltration into your sanitary system. Those are all the types of practices that need to continue and to be highlighted.”

Symon said the OP should be more flexible with the details coming into play in the zoning bylaw, “which is a much easier document to modify and tweak.”


Symon recommended other points in the review, including growth management; economic development and prosperity; land use compatibility; housing and intensification; public spaces, recreation, parks, trails and open space; sewage, water and stormwater; transportation and infrastructure corridors; natural heritage; cultural heritage; natural hazards; public service facilities; and emergency management.

Regarding urban agriculture in front yards, Coun. Gary Waterfield asked the consultant what the trend was in other municipalities. 

Symon said he was a proponent of growing and cooking food and “we should be encouraging that and not restricting that.”

“Having general aspirational policies in the plan is a good idea but it comes down to your yards’ bylaw and property standards.”

Some people like Kentucky bluegrass in the front yard – some like tomatoes and squash, therefore a bylaw to reflect individual needs should be attempted, he said.


Joanna Bowes, the town’s director of development services said even though it is time for a complete do-over of the OP, “based on budget, we went ahead and just did an update. Seeking clarification as to whether or not council wants a full update,” due to the cost involved. 

Budget and staff time, currently, “do not make it realistic to do a complete review,” Waterfield said. 

Symon said he would work with the council on the budget and be flexible, “and get as much done as humanly possible.”

It won’t be a new plan, “but I think we can accommodate some of the aspirations (that were discussed).”

Council received information, the preliminary planning issues and policy report, as presented by Symon, to draft the Official Plan amendment and related policies, including working with town staff to improve concise and plain language wording. This will be brought forward to council for future consideration.

Hometown News
Author: Hometown News