Through the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Act, 2001, and the accompanying Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan, the Province of Ontario established a policy framework for protecting the Oak Ridges Moraine. Municipal planning decisions are required to conform to the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan, which prevails over municipal official plans.
The Moraine in Newmarket
The Province required that the Town of Newmarket's Official Plan be amended to conform to the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan (Ontario Regulation 140/02). The Official Plan Amendment affects all lands located in the Town of Newmarket which are located within the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan Area as. The boundary of the Oak Ridges Moraine, as identified by the Province, is based on a number of topographical, geomorphological and geological attributes. The Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan Area, within the Town of Newmarket, is shown on all Official Plan and Zoning By-law schedules. Amendment No. 28 to the Town's 1996 Official Plan was approved in September, 2003 and remains in effect.
Land Use in the Moraine
All applications for development and site alteration on lands within the Oak Ridges Moraine Plan Area will only be considered where it can be demonstrated that they comply with the provisions of the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan and the relevant Official Plan policies.
All uses which legally existed on November 15, 2001, or for which a building permit was issued under Subsection 8(2) of the Building Code Act 1992, on or before November 15, 2001, are permitted in all proposed land use designations on the Moraine.
There are two land use designations that apply to those lands within the Town of Newmarket, which are located on the Oak Ridges Moraine. They are Oak Ridges Moraine Natural Core Area, and Oak Ridges Moraine Settlement Area designations.
Natural Core Areas have been established to protect those lands with the greatest concentrations of key natural heritage features (i.e., wetlands, significant habitat, ANSI's and significant valleylands, woodlands, etc.); hydrologically sensitive features (i.e., streams wetlands, kettle lakes and seepage areas and springs); or landform conservation areas (i.e., those areas containing steep slopes, kames, kettles, rivers and ridges) which are critical to maintaining the integrity of the Moraine. Only legally existing uses, resource management and conservation type uses, including trails are permitted.
The Settlement Areas designation contains two broad land uses, namely existing urban development and environmental protection uses. Existing urban uses are permitted, as set out in the Town of Newmarket's Official Plan, as amended. The environmental protection uses are lands which are outside of the Natural Core Area and which have environmental features that are to be protected and enhanced. Permitted uses only include conservation, non-motorized trails, and legally existing uses.
The Official Plan
The amendment also includes specific planning, design and development restrictions and requirements that must be met prior to any development or site alteration occurring, in order to protect the integrity of the Moraine's key natural, hydrological and landform features. The amendment restricts lot creation within the proposed Oak Ridges Moraine Natural Core Area, and the Oak Ridges Moraine Environmental Protection Area.
The boundary of the Oak Ridges Moraine and the land use designations within the Oak Ridges Moraine Area (i.e., Natural Core Area and Settlement Area) as shown on Schedule "B" to Amendment No. 28, cannot be altered. No amendments to the Natural Core Area land use designation can be considered within the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan Area of the Town of Newmarket.
The Town of Newmarket also amended its Zoning By-law to implement the policies of the Town's Official Plan. All uses legally existing on November 15, 2001, are permitted. All land not currently developed for urban type uses are to be rezoned to reflect their location and status on the Oak Ridges Moraine. Within those zoning categories that contain the letters "ORM" restrictions on any expansion, enlargement or alteration of the existing use, building or structure apply, requiring an amendment to the Zoning By-law. Additional restrictions also apply to all permitted land uses and building specifications in the Oak Ridges Moraine Natural Core, Oak Ridges Moraine Environmental Protection and Oak Ridges Moraine Natural Feature Protection Zones within the proposed Zoning By-law Amendment.
For more information on the actual details of the policies and provisions proposed, copies of the Official Plan Amendment and the Zoning By-law Amendment are available from the Planning Department.