Public Spaces, Recreation, Parks & Trails Policy Paper

trail-hikers

Download the Public Spaces Recreation Parks and Trails Policy Paper.

Background

Public spaces, recreation, parks, and trails support healthy active communities. Complete communities, whether urban or rural, provide publicly-accessible spaces which foster public interaction and support quality of life. The province recently amended the Planning Act through Bill 73 to identify a new matter of provincial interest in “the promotion of built form that is well designed, encourages a sense of place, and provides public spaces that are of high quality, safe, accessible, attractive, and vibrant.” The Planning Act now requires municipalities to incorporate policies relating to the built environment into their official plans. A well-designed public realm can promote public safety, foster opportunities for social interaction, contribute to public health objectives, and support quality of life. Open spaces, such as parklands, can also contribute to environmental objectives by providing valuable ecosystem services as green infrastructure. The provision of linear parks can also promote trail development and support development of an integrated open space system.

The Project for Public Spaces explains that great public spaces are “places where celebrations are held, social and economic exchanges occur, friends run into each other, and cultures mix. They are the ‘front porches’ of our public institutions – libraries, field houses, schools – where we interact with each other and government. When theses spaces work well, they serve as the stage for our public lives.” The Project for Public Spaces outlines 4 attributes which characterize great places, including: (1) sociability, (2) users and activities, (3) access and linkage, and (4) comfort and image. These attributes help to frame thinking around development and land use patterns which promote vibrant, complete communities. Placemaking can be a useful strategy to encourage improvements to the physical, social, and economic landscapes of the Township.

The dedication of parkland is an important consideration in development and land use patterns. Changes in provincial planning policies through Bill 73 support dedication of parkland rather than cash-in-lieu. To support transparency, there have been changes to requirements for reporting on density bonusing and parkland fees. New policies require development of a Parks Plan if municipalities would like to use the alternative parkland dedication rate; however, this is not required should the Township continue to use the current standard rates of 5% for residential development and 2% for commercial/industrial development.

Recreational opportunities in natural settings are abundant in a rural context, although opportunities for neighbourhood parks with facilities such as playgrounds and sports pitches need to be explored. Consideration for AODA (Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities) design standards in the development/redevelopment of neighbourhood parks and public spaces is necessary. Resources such as Parks and Recreation Ontario’s Pathways to Recreation Guidebook provides assistance in understanding the

Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation (O.Reg. 191/11) regarding design of public spaces. According to the Guidebook, “The Design of Public Spaces Standard will help eliminate physical barriers to accessing some kinds of outdoor recreation experiences. The Standard is now law and requirements are being phased in over time.”

Proposed Objectives

The following objectives are those which are being considered for the new Township of Adjala-Tosorontio Official Plan. They have been developed through an examination of existing Official Plan objectives and principles, review of the Adjala-Tosorontio Community-Based Strategic Plan, and input received from council, the public, agencies, and Township staff.

To provide an adequate range and distribution of public spaces, recreation, parks, and trails to meet long-term needs in a sustainable manner

To promote healthy, active livable, and safe communities which support active transportation

To promote built form and development patterns which are sustainable, oriented to pedestrians, well-designed, and encourage a sense of place

To provide for public spaces that are of high quality, safe, accessible, attractive and vibrant

To support overall quality of life, including human health, for people of all ages and abilities

Proposed Policies

The following policies are those which are being considered for the new Township of Adjala-Tosorontio Official Plan. They have been developed through:

  • Reviewing existing Official Plan policies and updating them to comply with new provincial and county policy requirements
  • Input received from council, the public, agencies, and municipal staff

Policies that have been strictly mandated by the province or county appear in bold whereas those that have been municipally derived appear in plain text.

Public Spaces, Recreation, Parks, and Trails – General

The Township will plan and provide for a full range and equitable distribution of publicly-accessible built and natural settings for recreation, including:

(a) facilities,

(b) parklands,

(c) public spaces,

(d) open space areas,

(e) trails and linkages, and

(f) water-based resources, where practical and appropriate (PPS 1.5.1)

The Township will plan for and provide a supply of parks, trails and other recreation facilities needed to support planned population and employment growth in a timely manner, particularly as built-up areas are intensified (Proposed Growth Plan 2.2.1.3)

The Township may consider entering into joint use agreements with other municipalities to secure services, as required (Township OP 3.2.5)

The Township shall comply with the accessibility standards prescribed in O.Reg. 191/11 under Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) in the design of public spaces (O.Reg 191/11)

The Township will plan public streets, spaces and facilities to be safe, meet the needs of pedestrians, foster social interaction and facilitate active transportation and community connectivity (PPS 1.5.1)

The Township encourages establishment of an open space system within settlement areas, which may include opportunities for urban agriculture, rooftop gardens, communal courtyards, and public parks. (Proposed Growth Plan 4.2.5.2)

The Township recognizes provincial parks, conservation reserves, and other protected areas, and will minimize negative impacts on these areas. (PPS 1.5.1)

The Township, in cooperation with conservation authorities, non-governmental organizations, and other interested parties, encourages the development of a system of publicly accessible parkland, open space and trails, that:

(a) clearly demarcates where public access is and is not permitted;

(b) is based on a co-ordinated approach to trail planning and development; and

(c) is based on good land stewardship practices for public and private lands. (Proposed Growth Plan 4.2.5.1)

The Township promotes high quality built form and publicly-accessible open spaces that are safe and accessible with site design standards that create an attractive and vibrant public realm. (Proposed Growth Plan 2.2.1.3)

The design of streetscapes, building orientation, and traffic flow should be planned to provide safe pedestrian and cycling access and movement in downtowns, main streets, and other activity areas. (Simcoe County OP 4.1.5)

When considering secondary plans and development applications, the Township, in cooperation with the County, shall pursue the connection of trails and/or bicycle facilities among other local municipalities and beyond County boundaries and require the dedication of land for such use in accordance with the Planning Act. (Simcoe County OP 4.8.45)

The Township should consider opportunities for the planning and provision of public art and other placemaking strategies as appropriate

Park Dedication

In considering land division by registered plan of subdivision, the Township may require the applicant to dedicate up to 5% of the gross area for residential development or 2% for commercial/industrial development to the provision of public open space other than roads. This dedication may take the form of land or as a cash payment under the provisions of the Planning Act. (Township OP 8.10.1)

Land judged by the Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority or the Toronto Region Conservation Authority to be hazard areas will be set aside as permanent open space and shall not constitute part of the dedication for public open space use. (Township OP 8.10.2)

Planning for park dedication shall help to promote active communities by:

(a) Providing a full range of and distribution of publicly accessible recreational facilities including but not limited to facilities, parklands, and open space areas;

(b) Considering the impacts of planning decisions on provincial parks, conservation reserves and areas. (Township OP 8.10.3)

Recreation Trails

In order to enhance the potential for a network of linked trails throughout the Township, regard will be had for the creation and preservation of such a network when evaluating development proposals. (Township OP 8.11.1)

Where deemed appropriate by the Township, it may require that development provide lands and/or develop lands for a linked trail system may be required. This is considered to be infrastructure similar to that required for the provision of roads and others services to support development. The provision, and development, of land for trails shall therefore not be considered to be part of the park dedication requirement. That is, the provision of trails shall be over and above the requirements for provision and development of parkland.

Abandoned rail right-of-ways, utility corridors, and waterways for transportation, recreation and trails purposes should be examined for opportunities that would facilitate active transportation. The Township may promote the facilitation of trails as an interim use in abandoned rail corridors and will consider combination of active transportation and rail facilities for the long term (Simcoe County OP 4.8.51)

Township road allowances which could become a link in a trail system will not be conveyed out of public ownership. (Township OP 8.11.3)

Where application is made to close and convey a road allowance, if the road allowance would not contribute to a trail system, regard shall be had for the possibility of conducting an exchange for alternative land that could become part of a trail system. (Township OP 8.11.4)

Any such trails will have regard for the protection of the surrounding agricultural operations, and will not interfere with such operations. (Township OP 8.11.5)

It is the objective of the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan to establish or extend trails throughout the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan Area subject to Section X.X.X.X of this Plan. (Township OP 8.11.6)

Open Space Recreation Designation

Location and Definition

Lands designated as open space recreation are identified on Schedules X to X and X to X of this Plan. (Township OP 4.7.1.1)

The Open Space Recreation designation generally includes those lands in the Township owned by public authorities (e.g. County Forests and Provincial Parks) or used for private recreation activities (e.g. rod and gun clubs, ski clubs, golf courses, etc.) The Township will consider what constitutes a ‘private club’ (Township OP 4.7.1.2)

Development and site alteration on lands currently used for Open Space Recreation on the Oak Ridges Moraine are subject to the policies of Section <<to be determined>>of this Plan. (Township OP 4.7.1.3)

The Township should in its zoning by-law establish a hierarchy of parks (community parks, neighbourhood parks, natural areas, parkettes, etc.) which includes methodology and criteria for designating park classes (i.e. size, services provided, location, and service radius) with associated permitted uses. (Township OP 4.7.1.4)

Principles

The preservation and promotion of the rural and open space character of the Township is a basic principle for development in the Open Space Recreation designation. (Township OP 4.7.2.1)

Major public lands that have an open space, conservation or recreation focus are identified in the Open Space Recreation designation. (Township OP 4.7.2.2)

Private lands in the Township that are used for open space or recreational activities, or major private recreational activities shall be located in the Open Space Recreation designation, except for those lands located on the Oak Ridges Moraine where low-intensity recreational uses may be located in the Natural Core Area and Natural Linkage Area designations and major recreational uses may be located in the Countryside Area designation, all subject to the policies of Section 4.12 of this Plan. (Township OP 4.7.2.3)

Major large scale private recreational facilities that require a large amount of land to develop shall be discouraged from locating within existing Settlement Areas due to potential conflicts with noise, light and traffic associated with such uses. (Township OP 4.7.2.4)

The Township will promote the linkage of parks within Settlement Areas through the use of trails or pathways. Park locations shall also maintain continuous road frontage on at least one roadway to allow for visibility. Parkland dedications that do not provide a continuous road frontage along at least one roadway will be discouraged. The Township shall determine on a case by case basis an appropriate frontage for parks. (Township OP 4.7.2.5)

Permitted Uses

The predominant use of land shall be for public and private outdoor recreation uses, which may include:

  • Public parks of all types, including fairgrounds and lands owned by or under the control of the Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority or the Toronto Region Conservation Authority;
  • Private parks, including picnic areas, camp grounds, swimming areas, pavilions, eating establishments and other service buildings associated with the park use;
  • Private clubs including those for golf, skiing, fishing, hunting, and snowmobiling;
  • Private lands for hiking trails or wilderness areas involving the use of open lands; and
  • Conservation and forest management uses. (Township OP 4.7.3.1)

Development Policies

One single detached residential use that is accessory to a recreation use may be developed on a property. (Township Official Plan 4.7.4.1)

New lot creation is not permitted on lands designated open space recreation. (Township Official Plan 4.7.4.2)

Where lands designated Open Space Recreation are under private ownership, this Plan shall not be construed so as to imply that the lands are free and open to the general public, or that the lands are to be acquired by the Township or the Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority or the Toronto Region Conservation Authority.

The standards appropriate for new permitted uses shall be established in the zoning by-law, consistent with the policies of this plan. (Township Official Plan 4.7.4.4)

An Agricultural Impact Study, Environmental Impact Study and Planning Justification Report shall be submitted to the satisfaction of the Township prior to Council considering a zoning amendment to permit new large scale private recreational uses (including golf courses) within the Open Space Recreation designation. (Township Official Plan 4.7.4.5)

New private recreational uses located outside the Open Space Recreation designation shall proceed by Official Plan Amendment, and zoning by-law amendment with guidelines for appropriate standards established as part of the Amendment. (Township Official Plan 4.7.4.6)

Proposed Definitions

Active transportation: means human-powered travel, including but not limited to, walking, cycling, inline skating and travel with the use of mobility aids, including motorized wheelchairs and other power-assisted devices moving at a comparable speed. (PPS 2014) & (County of Simcoe)

Green Infrastructure: Natural and human-made elements that provide ecological and hydrologic functions and processes. Green infrastructure can include components such as natural heritage features and systems, parklands, stormwater management systems, street trees, urban forests, natural channels, permeable surfaces, and green roofs. (PPS, 2014) (Proposed Growth Plan 2016)

Major recreational uses: means recreational uses that require large-scale modification of terrain, vegetation or both and usually also require large-scale buildings or structures, including but not limited to the following:

• golf courses,

• serviced playing fields,

• serviced campgrounds,

• ski hills. (Township OP)

Public Realm: All spaces to which the public has unrestricted access, such as streets, parks and sidewalks. (Proposed Growth Plan 2016)

Public Service Facilities: Lands, buildings and structures for the provision of programs and services provided or subsidized by a government or other body, such as social assistance, recreation, police and fire protection, health and educational programs, and cultural services. Public service facilities do not include infrastructure. (PPS, 2014) & (Proposed Growth Plan 2016) & (County of Simcoe)

Recreation: means leisure time activity undertaken in built or natural settings for purposes of physical activity, health benefits, sport participation and skill development, personal enjoyment, positive social interaction and the achievement of human potential. (PPS 2014)

Recreational district: is an area within the rural area identified within a local municipal official plan as an area to be mapped and planned on a comprehensive basis to accommodate recreational, residential, and related commercial development associated with particular geographic features. (County of Simcoe)

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