Concerned landowners spokesperson has no plans to appeal official plan


One of the biggest critics of Lambton County’s official plan says she won’t appeal the document to the Ontario Municipal Board.
Lambton County Council met Aug. 2 to talk about the planning document which has been the subject of public meetings, open houses, and special committee meetings for over six years. Council passed the draft making some changes to Plympton-Wyoming’s lakeshore development area. (See more in the Aug. 17th edition of The Independent.)
The document has faced a lot of opposition, most notably from a group called the Concerned Landowner Legal Defense.
Former Lambton Shores Deputy Mayor Elizabeth Davis-Dagg made several impassioned presentations at county council and visited or wrote to each Lambton municipality to voice her concerns and the concerns of nearly 700 people who became part of the group.
Davis-Dagg’s biggest concern was a part of the draft plan called Section 8. It deals with Natural Heritage issues. Over and over again, Davis-Dagg expressed concern the changes that were being made, including increasing the number of areas considered wetlands, would make it more difficult for farmers to use their land they way they do now.
Recently, after a St. Clair resident went to the Ministry of Natural Resources concerned their map showed his farmland as wetlands, the county learned that map which planners were using was wrong. The wetland data had not been verified and it had been taken off the MNR’s website.
Davis-Dagg, in an interview with The Independent before the Aug. 2 vote, said she was happy some of the natural heritage features had been changed. But she says the draft plan is still “troubling.
“They’ve only dealt with one of 39 concerns and many of those have long-term ramifications for the county,” she says. “The restrictions that accompany wetlands designations…will be a challenge for landowners in the future.”
And while she still does not agree with many aspects of the draft plan, she doesn’t plan to launch an appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board.
“There was never a direct threat (from CLLD) of legal action,” Davis-Dagg says adding the lawyers letter sent to the county was to give their concerns credibility.
Davis-Dagg says she mounted the campaign because “the best time to make changes is before things are passed…it is very challenging to reverse changes.” But a challenge of the draft plan isn’t in her sights.
“An OMB appeal takes a lot of time and money…I don’t have any personal intent to lead that effort; that will be up to others in the farming community…Once farmers feel the impact directly, they will have no choice but to take it to the OMB.”
She adds: “I believe there will be individual actions as opposed to a corporate action on the official plan.”