WHY REGIONAL PLANNING?
Regional planning deals with the efficient placement of land uses and related infrastructure within an area extending beyond the boundaries of a single municipality. An effective regional plan will incorporate broad decisions concerning the direction of growth within the area to which it applies and the major initiatives to be pursued to accommodate and encourage that growth. It should also provide a framework for municipal plans prepared by the municipalities comprising the region so as to coordinate their policies and reduce the potential for conflict between them.
Regional planning is not new to the Northeast Avalon. The Northeast Avalon Regional Plan will replace the St. John’s Urban Region Regional Plan (SJURRP). The SJURRP was prepared in 1976 and still governs development on the Northeast Avalon Peninsula as well as the Town of Wabana on Bell Island. It is referred to whenever municipalities in the region contemplate significant land use changes.
Although the SJURRP has been amended regularly over the 40 years it has been in place, it is clearly in need of replacement. The region has grown considerably and new opportunities are apparent. The municipal structure of the region has been changed through the consolidation of many municipal units. Significant changes in technology have also put new tools in the hands of planners to improve analysis and presentation, particularly with respect to mapping that supports and implements the plan.
The new Regional Plan will address all municipal services as well as critical services provided within the region by the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. These range from the region’s transportation network to our schools and emergency services. Taking our water supply as an example, the Regional Plan can incorporate policies to increase protection of the existing watershed, identify new water sources, and to encourage conservation of water by municipalities and their residents with the region.
Among the outcomes anticipated from the Regional Planning process are:
· A Vision as how we want the NEAR to be in 20 -25 years
· A streamlined process by which Regional Plan policies are considered in municipal planning and development approvals
· Coordination of development of the regional transportation network
· Coordination of the development of infrastructure required for wastewater collection and treatment, water treatment and distribution, and stormwater management
· Guidance for locating community facilities required for fire and emergency services, solid waste management, recreation and health, and education
· Conservation of valued environmental resources
· Protection and promotion valued cultural resources
· Coordination of initiatives to develop the regional economy
· Encouragement of healthy and sustainable lifestyles through the continued development of Active Transportation networks, improvement of transit services, and encouragement of social inclusion.
Creation of the policies that will comprise the Regional Plan will draw on a wide array of studies carried out in the past, extensive consultation with the fifteen municipal partners comprising the Northeast Avalon Region, and collaboration with municipal and provincial staff, and the public. Like all community plans, the Northeast Avalon Regional Plan must reflect the vision of community members for their region. Extensive communications and consultation processes are planned to ensure residents of the region are aware of the regional planning process and will have their say in the future it will seek.