A Barrier to Tourist Accommodation in New Official Plan

Chart from 2021 Official Plan shows how most of the area around Sandbanks Provincial Park is designated as a Natural Core Area where development is prohibited.

Prince Edward County has a chronic shortage of “roofed” tourist accommodation, but the new Official Plan which Council approved on February 24th contains what may be an inadvertent but significant barrier to this type of development.

Although approved by Council, the new Official Plan does not become effective until approved by the Minister of Municipal Affairs & Housing. Approval is expected by July 2021.

Both the current and new Official Plans want to have more tourist resorts developed in the County. Further, both plans are in agreement that areas designated Shore are the place where resorts should be located.

Both official plans also identify a series of Natural Core Areas where “there is a concentration of natural features which are critical to the ecological health of the County as a whole.” (2021 Official Plan, p. 123).

Although the concept of Natural Core Areas is not new, the new plan protects them much more stringently than the old one. Under the new plan, all major commercial & industrial is prohibited in the Natural Core Areas. (Major development is any development which has an area greater than 500 square meters or about 5,000 square feet including the building footprint, paved parking and driveways.)

The fly in the ointment in terms of resort development is that about 3/4ths of the land designated Shore (which is where resorts are supposed to go) is also designated a Natural Core Area where major development is not possible.

In presenting the new Official Plan for approval by Council, County staff acknowledged that there is an issue with lands designated Shore and the Natural Core Areas. It’s expected that staff will come back to Council with a solution over the next two-year period.

In the meantime, if you are considering waterfront property for commercial development, check to see whether it’s in a Natural Core Area as part of your due diligence.

For further information on this issue or any other question about County real estate, contact Treat Hull, Broker of Record at treat@treathull.ca or 613-503-0027.

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