The Municipality wishes to provide a brief update on the COVID-19 impacts to legislated planning processes and the municipal recovery timeline and plan.
Impacts to planning processes
In the wake of the global pandemic, Planning Division staff have continued to process planning applications and work remotely from their homes with applicants and the public throughout this unique period. Planning Division staff recognize and are sensitive to the impacts that the limitations of the current situation pose on landuse and development.
The Province’s Order declaring a state of emergency and subsequent supporting legislation has provided the Municipality wide discretion in determining how best to manage and operate its activities, including matters related to the Planning Act and the Ontario Heritage Act. Port Hope has prudently and cautiously limited all municipal and public meetings to only those directly involving Council.
Many legislated planning processes have been suspended, such as timelines for planning application approval processes, as well as the postponement and cancellation of statutory public meetings, including those for the Committee of Adjustment and Heritage Port Hope Advisory Committee.
Recovery timeline and plan
In early May 2020, Ontario tabled its Framework for Reopening the Province. Additionally, as was announced last week, the construction industry is now able to resume all non-essential activities, under Provincial guidelines and measures.
Currently, the Provincial Emergency Order is in place until May 29, 2020. When the Province lifts the Emergency Order, eases restrictions on group gatherings and permits commercial activities to take place, the Municipality will reconvene those planning activities that have been affected by the Emergency Order.
Once the Order is lifted, staff’s aim will be to establish more normal approval timelines and resume regular statutory public meetings. This will only likely occur when the Municipality is fully able to accommodate public meetings that comply with: Provincial planning and heritage legislation requirements; Provincial direction regarding Covid-19 pandemic health and safety measures; and relevant by-laws.
In the meantime, staff continue to work with the public via teleconference and email, accept planning applications, and discuss all planning matters to the extent possible.
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