Public review for Leeds and the Thousand Islands community improvement plan

Photo via WikiCommons

A draft community improvement plan (CIP) report for the Township of Leeds and the Thousand Islands has been released for public review and input.

A statutory public meeting was held on Monday in the council chambers in Lansdowne to review and receive public input with respect to the draft CIP.

The presentation was delivered by Jesse McPhail, with Re:Public Urbanism.

The township hired Re:Public Urbanism and Parcel Economics in April to create a CIP for the municipality. This CIP is a first for the township and will build on existing grant programming, along with seeking to encourage improvements throughout the township.

A CIP, essentially an incentive package, is a planning and economic development tool for community revitalization.

In his presentation to council, McPhail listed the goals of the CIP. They include: enhancing the vitality of the township’s main streets; increasing the condition and number of designated heritage properties; cultivating inviting public spaces; promoting community pride and responsibility; establishing co-operative partnerships within the community; facilitating the development of more affordable and attainable housing; ensuring fair allocation of improvement efforts and resources; strengthening the township’s identity and branding within each unique community; encouraging the growth of business that will contribute to a diverse economy; and creating opportunities to educate, involve and support initiatives focused on the community’s natural environment.

“These are more tangible goals,” McPhail said. “These goals were really designed to help the township track progress over the next 10 years, as well as help with the review process.”

The township’s draft CIP includes five financial incentive programs and nine municipal leadership initiatives, as follows: a façade improvement program; an accessibility and code compliance program; a secondary dwelling unit support program; a building conversion and expansion program; and an agri-tourism program.

The proposed municipal leadership initiatives are for the township to consider pursuing over the life of the CIP. They include: adopting a land acknowledgement and communications policy; improving public parks and water access; supporting property standards management; main street revitalization; improving wayfinding in the township; supporting attainable and affordable housing development; assessing opportunities for unopened rights-of-ways; supporting environmental stewardship; and exploring opportunities for reuse or redevelopment of the Seeley’s Bay firehall.

The hope is these incentive programs and leadership initiatives will help support community improvement projects throughout the township over the next decade. The entire township is designated as a community improvement plan area, and eligibility for grants will depend on location of property and type of project.

Township council will have full discretion as to which incentive programs to offer or activate from year to year, and which leadership initiatives to pursue.

Coun. Jeff Lackie asked about the incentive programs, the applications and how often one could apply.

“The implementation section of the document indicates that it’s annually, however, depending on budget and allocation, that’s something that can be refined through our implementation of the plan,” said Marnie Venditti, the township’s director of planning and development.

Some public feedback regarding the proposed CIP included a push for more accessibility within the community for people with mobility needs; a suggestion for an accessibility committee; a suggestion for an increase in the financial incentive programs; and an ask for improvement to the façade within the core settlement areas of the township.

Now, council will consider all feedback and comments received to date and decide on whether to adopt the plan as-is, with revisions, or defer a decision. A council decision is anticipated of January 2024.

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