April 19, 2021

Earlier this year, I shared an overview of several important projects and planning processes that will be taking place.  These projects all relate to how we will grow and change as a community in the years ahead.  For the full overview, please see my message from January 13, 2021 – Planning Together for Growth and Change.  

A priority for me as your Mayor is to provide information to residents on important matters and to ensure you are informed and aware of ways to participate in discussions. Today, I will provide an update on two specific planning items:

  • Official Plan Amendment 22: Urban Settlement Area Review
  • Official Plan Amendment 29: Land Evaluation Area Review for Agricultural Lands

Official Plan Amendment (OPA) 22 proposes changes to Almonte’s settlement area.  We have held an information session, a public meeting and provided additional time for feedback from residents. The next step is for Mississippi Mills Council to make a decision. Once Council adopts the bylaw (makes the decision), OPA 22 will go to the County.  As our approval authority for planning matters, the County will review the OPA and hold an additional public meeting before it is finally considered by County Council and approved, modified or refused.  The County will make a decision within 180 days.  The Final Report for OPA 22, the presentation slides, a recording of the information session, FAQs and all the additional documents and resources are available on our Public Engagement Page or by scrolling down our Planning and Land Use Page.  

Official Plan Amendment (OPA) 29 is our next big planning matter.  OPA 29 will review the Prime Agricultural Area Designations in Mississippi Mills. Why are the prime agricultural areas being reviewed in the first place?  In short, because our agricultural mapping, the approach used to determine Prime Agricultural Areas, is outdated and no longer accepted by the Province.  

The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) provides guidance for determining areas suitable for designation as Prime Agricultural Areas through analysis and mapping; municipalities must comply with these policies.  When we were updating our Prime Agricultural Areas and corresponding agricultural mapping last term as part of the Official Plan Review (OPA 21), the Agricultural Advisory Committee raised concerns.  Through discussions with the planning consultant about these concerns, the Ag Committee recommended that Council update its approach to designating Prime Agricultural Areas and corresponding mapping through a Land Evaluation and Area Review (LEAR) – an alternative approach that is approved by OMAFRA. Lanark County accepted OPA 21 without updated Prime Agricultural Areas or agricultural mapping on the condition that Mississippi Mills would do so via a LEAR.

A LEAR is a tool used to identify lands that may be suitable to be designated as Prime Agricultural Areas. There are two parts to a LEAR evaluation:

1)    Land Evaluation (LE), which assesses the capability of soils and climatic conditions of the lands.

2)    Area Review (AR), which considers other factors that could affect the agricultural potential of lands, such as fragmentation or how land is used.

Several other factors play a role in the identification of Prime Agricultural Areas as well, such as, property owner/community feedback, additional reports and analysis and other planning priorities.

It is important to note, the proposed Prime Agricultural Area in OPA 29 is larger than in our current plan (designated in the 2006 Official Plan).  This means that some property owners will lose the potential to sever new lots once OPA 29 is approved.  There will also be some property owners who will gain severance rights. 

If you have questions about your ability to sever lands, tax implications of proposed changes, the role of Agricultural Committee and OMAFRA, who to talk to if you have questions or if you’d like to review proposed mapping and background materials,please go to our Public Engagement page. 


Be part of the Conversation!

There are two ways for you to participate in the OPA 29 Discussion: 

  • Listen, Learn and Ask Questions at our Virtual Open House on Tuesday April 28 at 6:30pm.  Our in-house consultant will share information and answer your questions about the Prime Agriculture Area review.  This session will help you prepare for the May 4 Public Meeting where submissions from the public are collected and become part of the project.  To participate in the Virtual Open House email mrivet@jlrichards.ca or call 343-803-4533.  Deadline to register is April 25.   
  • Share your Viewpoint at the statutory Public Meeting on Tuesday May 4 at 6:00pm.  If you are interested in speaking at the virtual public meeting, please register with mrivet@jlrichards.ca by April 30, 2021. Comments and questions can also be provided before the meeting on May 4, 2021 to be considered by Council. Please send your written comments to mrivet@jlrichards.ca referencing "OPA 29". Your written comments will become part of the documentation for this Official Plan Amendment.  There will be an additional period following the public meeting where property owners can provide further feedback to our planning consultant before the final OPA 29 report is presented to Council in June. 

If you’d like more details about participating or if you’d like to read the background materials, frequently asked questions or review mapping for OPA 29, go to:  www.mississippimills.ca/en/municipal-hall/public-engagement.aspx

Please subscribe to our newsfeed for opportunities to participate in these conversations and processes!  It’s important that we plan for growth and change together – your voice is needed. Subscribe here:  www.mississippimills.ca/subscribe.


Christa Lowry

Mayor of Mississippi Mills