Public Feedback Sought on Contemporary Zoning Issues

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Photo ©DCarew Rhode Island Red

At the July 5th meeting, Mark Stone of MLS Planning Consulting presented the Draft Discussion papers developed after their June public consultation to move the new Zoning By-Law project forward.

Among other topics, the report discussed the issue of keeping small livestock in areas of the township where this activity is currently prohibited. In the related discussion paper, Stone suggests that more community input on that topic is required, as it is one that is gaining momentum in urban centres across the province.

A motion presented to Toronto City Council last month recommended that small-scale urban chicken farming be allowed in the city. The motion was postponed until the fall after the sudden death of one of its Councillors, but most expect a pilot project to receive approval for next spring. Meanwhile other cities including Kitchener have already approved this kind of activity within its borders. Urban farmers there are allowed a maximum of four backyard chickens but no roosters, and are not allowed to sell eggs or any chicken related products. Their livestock housing requires minimum setbacks from lot lines, municipal inspections and the tagging of their livestock for identification purposes.

Support for urban farming is not universal. There are concerns over odour, noise and potential health hazards for birds as well as humans which have been raised by township residents faced with neighbouring livestock.

Those in favour of the trend suggest it is the ultimate conclusion to the thrust towards local food sourcing, and ask “Does your pet make you breakfast?”

For Cavan Monaghan, advancing the cause of small livestock will require outlining minimum lot sizes on which livestock will be permitted, the number of livestock based on the lot size, and any regulations including inspections associated with these micro-farms. At the most recent Public Open House on the issue, it was pointed out that a definition of livestock would be the natural starting point for this discussion. Township staff is seeking direction from the residents and stakeholders so changes move in the right direction.

Another trend in the building landscape is the re-use of retired shipping containers as permanent structures from garden sheds and bunkies to complete homes. Ranging in size from 160 to 320 square feet, these items require a building permit for installation in cities and municipalities where they are permitted. In the City of Hamilton, shipping containers are becoming a common sight, because they offer “sturdy, inexpensive, roomy, easy to transport and provide secure storage,” according to City of Hamilton Manager of Building Inspections, John Lane.

Architects in Denmark have used containers, juxtaposing them like lego blocks in larger scale construction projects, but just because items are being recycled does not make their use environmentally responsible. According to an article published by Lloyd Alter of Design / Sustainable Product Design on the website “Tree Hugger”, there is a lot more steel in a shipping container than you actually need for a building so this application is not particularly environmentally friendly. He argues that you can probably build a house faster and cheaper using traditional wood framing than “bringing in a welder and mucking up a shipping container”.

Love them or hate them, the re-use of these large steel structures is another topic where public feedback is welcome. While there is no known permanent installation of a sea container currently in the township, there is at least one local dealer who could change that situation.

There will be more opportunity for public input at another Open House event in September, where draft proposals will be presented which will give some concrete wording that should clarify the direction of the changes under consideration.

To determine the zones of a particular property in the township, there is a new interactive zoning map allowing residents to see the current zone of all properties in the township. This map will be updated to reflect the proposed zoning changes as they become available. To explore the interactive mapping tool, visit: http://cavanmonaghanzoning.net. KG

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