February 22nd Planning Meeting: Despite concerns proposed development complies with policies says SVCA staff

The proposed development that would see the removal of a Significant Woodland at the base of Market Street below Nodwell Park has undergone three revisions since the original application was made in early 2020.

None of the proposals to date have advanced to a Public Meeting. Previous proposals have been revised to account for stormwater-related comments from the Saugeen Valley Conservation Authority (SVCA) as well as concerns raised by Town and County staff regarding tree preservation and open space.

A Municipal Planning Meeting is being held virtually today beginning at 6:30 p.m.

                                      Treed area to be developed

Significant Woodland The lands contain a woodland feature that is considered significant by the Town’s Official Plan. Planning policies generally discourage development and site alteration within and adjacent to Significant Woodlands unless it has been demonstrated that there will be no harmful impact. The Town’s Official Plan applies different policy approaches to significant woodlands depending on where the feature is located. The policies under Section outline the three different policy approaches for Significant Woodlands, as noted below:

a) The woodland feature associated with ‘Special Policy Area 4’generally encompasses the large woodland feature that exists between Southampton and Port Elgin. Section 3.20.4 contains policies for Special Policy Area 4. With regard to the woodland feature in this area, development may be considered subject to the completion of an Environmental Impact Study (EIS) as well as other criteria, such as a tree retention plan.

b) The woodland north of the Saugeen River in Southampton permits development if it can also be considered if demonstrated not to have a negative impact on the feature through an Environmental Impact Study.

c) Development is restricted within all other woodland features greater that 4 hectares within the Town, including the feature on the subject lands.

The proposed Official Plan Amendment is seeking to apply the significant woodland policies of Special Policy Area #4 to the lands. Despite the policies related to Significant Woodlands, the lands are designated Residential in the Town’s Official Plan. If approved, the proposed Official Plan Amendment would allow for the consideration of residential development subject to demonstrating no negative impact and implementation of the Tree Retention Plan. To this end, the application has been supported by an Environmental Impact Study and Tree Retention Plan (TRP). The TRP proposes to maintain 33% tree cover. Many of the public comments received expressed concerns regarding the loss of trees on the lands if the development is approved. Public comments cite concerns regarding impacts regarding climate change as well as loss of green space in this area of the Town.

The Saugeen Valley Conservation Authority (SVCA) reviews planning applications for natural heritage impacts. The SVCA has noted that the proposed Official Plan amendment is required to conform to the natural heritage policies of the County Official Plan as well as to be consistent with the natural heritage policies of the Provincial Policy Statement. The SVCA is of the opinion that the proposed Official Plan meets these policies and that negative impacts can be mitigated through recommendations of the EIS as well as implementation of the Tree Retention Plan. The SVCA has recommended Conditions of Draft Approval in this regard.

The lands contain Significant Wildlife Habitat, including three intermittent seeps along the eastern boundary of the property. The seeps are potential significant wildlife habitat. Development is generally not permitted adjacent Significant Wildlife Habitat unless it can be demonstrated that the development will not negatively impact the habitat. The seeps are located at the toe of the steep slope located on the eastern boundary of the property. This slope is a remnant shoreline of the glacial Lake Algonquin. The seeps are proposed to be within the Environmental Protection zone. No development is proposed with 15 metres of the seeps. Public comments received to date have indicated concerns regarding the loss of habitat that would result from the proposed development. The SVCA has reviewed the application for impacts to Significant Wildlife Habitat and have concluded that the proposal complies to the applicable policies provided that mitigation measures are enforced through appropriate zoning and conditions of approval. To this end, the SVCA has recommended that the Plan of Subdivision be approved subject to certain conditions related to Significant Wildlife Habitat, including that that Final Site Plan be provided implementing the recommendation of the Environmental Impact Study.

RECOMMENDATION In general, SVCA staff find the applications acceptable, provided our recommendations are implemented, including our recommendations for conditions of Draft Plan approval outlined in the ‘Summary’ section of this report.

SITE CHARACTERISTICS The subject property features vacant, undeveloped land with contiguous woodland cover and is bounded to the east by the Ancient Lake Algonquin Bluff, which is also treed. There is a line of groundwater seeps at the toe of bluff that drain offsite in a westerly direction through a defined channel which originates on the northeast corner of the property. This channel also receives base flow from a storm pond discharge pipe that outlets on the northeast corner of the property.

Significant Woodland It continues to be SVCA staff’s opinion the contiguous woodland on the property is considered significant based on the size of the woodland (excluding property limits) as defined in section c) of the Town of Saugeen Shores OP.

However, despite the size of the woodland, the EIS findings demonstrate this woodland provides little ecological function other than hydrology functions of the identified groundwater discharge zones, which are recommended as no development zones. The EIS concludes that with recommended mitigation measures, the hydrologic function of the woodland can be protected; and that site development will have no anticipated S-2020-001, L-2020-009; Z-2020-014 November 10, 2021 Page 5 of 9 negative impacts or loss of ecological function to the natural heritage features or ecological functions assessed within the Study Lands

County of Bruce – Significant Wildlife Habitat

Section states: It is the policy of County Council that no development except for essential municipally owned infrastructure shall be permitted within areas of significant wildlife habitat provided no adverse environmental impact will result.

Section states: It is the policy of County Council that no development or site alteration may be permitted within 120 metres to significant wildlife habitat unless it has been demonstrated through an EIS, carried out by the proponent, that there will be no negative impacts on the natural features or on the ecological functions for which the area is identified.

Town of Saugeen Shores – Significant wildlife habitat

Section states: Development or site alteration proposed in or adjacent to significant wildlife habitat is not permitted unless an Environmental Impact Statement has been approved by Council which demonstrates that there will be no negative impact on the significant wildlife habitat. Section states: Significant Wildlife Habitat shall be zoned in the Zoning By-Law to preclude new development within such areas.

It is SVCA staff’s opinion, the EIS has demonstrated proposed development on the subject property would comply with the SWH policies of the PPS, County and Town; provided SVCA staff recommendations in this report are addressed; and that proposed mitigation measures to ensure the SWH function is maintained are enforced via appropriate land designation/zoning, site plan control, and conditions of approval for the draft plan of subdivision.