Over the past year, a task force has been taking a careful look at land use planning in P.E.I. Many hours have been spent reviewing information, comparing land use policies in other jurisdictions, proposing a set of policies for our Island and listening to feedback from the P.E.I. public.
Often questions arise around the implementation process once the task force has completed its work and delivered recommendations to government. No one, including the members of the task force, wishes to see the report shelved or ignored. To date, the draft policies have been very positively received, but there is no doubt that government will face challenges when acting on some of the recommendations.
An observation I would like to make - as one of the five task force members - is the great abundance of planning tools now available to assist land use administrators. Through the magic of technology, planners and municipal officials can:
1) Use Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to create maps that show clearly the connection between high intensity land use and water contamination or the rate of shoreline erosion or other useful cause and effect relationships.
2) Generate detailed maps that show land ownership patterns.
3) Use an online app to determine the quality of drinking water in your neighbourhood http://www.gov.pe.ca/environment/index.php3?number=1040595&lang=E
4) Imagine "what if" development scenarios via GIS video software that indicates where approved subdivision lots currently exist. The task force learned that there are currently more than 30,000 approved lots in P.E.I. which have not yet been developed, so sometimes the imaginary "flyovers" are quite dramatic. They can be viewed at the Land and Local Governance website: http://bit.ly/199C4fm.
5) Use photo altering software to help envision new projects and the impact they could have on the community and the landscape.
6) Poll citizens via inexpensive and easily administered electronic surveys to obtain quick community feedback on land use issues.
In fact, our task force is making use of tool #6 to learn more about how Islanders feel about some of the issues that have been raised in the course of our research and public meetings. This is a perfect chance to tell us how you feel about development along coastlines, protection of prime farmland or water quality issues and land use. A link to the short survey is at http://www.gov.pe.ca/landandlocalgovernance/survey.
It is the hope of the Land Use Policy Task Force that the proposed policies will offer valuable support to provincial and municipal planners and administrators, at last providing clear and specific guidelines that will help shape the future of Prince Edward Island, resulting in an Island we will be proud to hand to the next generations.