The Pine Ridge Municipal Planning Association (PRMPA), an advisory group for municipalities within Northumberland,including Cramahe Township has raised some criticisms of the 2006 Provincial Places to Grow Act.
The act was put in place to create high density, compact urban communities which can be serviced by public transport and infrastructure.
In 2008 a Growth Management Strategy (GMS) was prepared for the County of Northumberland to implement the provincial growth plan. The GMS sets out where the growth will be in the next 25 years. According to the figures it uses Cramahe Township will only increase by 787 people, with 649 of that growth in Colborne. With a 6.65% growth rate, Cramahe is not the worst off in the county. Alnwick/Haldimand (3.69%) and Hamilton Township (5.35%) would grow even less. Cobourg and Port Hope would fare the best with growth rates of 35% and 26% respectively. Brighton and Trent Hills are slated to grow by just under 11%.
The GMS report recommends funnelling residential and employment growth into existing serviced areas. While that would appear to favour Cramahe, there are flaws in the plan, says Cramahe Deputy Mayor Jim Williams. The township's industrial park is not included in the employment areas and Colborne Creek subdivision, owned by the township and less than half filled, is not considered a "settlement area" under current designations.
As well, the township hoped a growing propulation would keep user costs down on the projected sewage treatment expansion for Colborne. At the June 2 Council meeting, Township Treasurer, Mora Chatterson, revealed that the township would take $750,000 from sewage treatment reserves and borrow the rest of its $2.1 million share of the $6.4 million project. Reduced growth will affect costs to the existing users.
Mr. Williams, who also sits on the PRMPA board has other concerns too.
The GMS report recommends an 85/15 urban/rural ratio of residents in the county. It is probably close to 60/40 county-wide now and in Cramahe its actually about 35/65.
Cramahe will have to bring its Official Plan in line with the provincial Places to Grow Act. Deputy Mayor Williams acknowledges that will be a challenge under the current limitations.
PRMPA has numerous concerns with the GMS report.To begin with, it would like to see a 70/30 urban/rural split.
It is concerned about a loss of rural development and lifestyle it the provincial plan is implemented as is.
Cramahe Council is expected to draft a formal reply to the PRMPA report at its next meeting on July 14.