How Can We Protect Our Neighbourhood Character?
Character. That is one of the things that attracts people to King Township.
People settle into a neighbourhood of their choice and that is where they want to live. So it is not surprising that people respond to what appears to be a threat of change in character in their neighbourhood. Change happens, however, and we have to accept that. At the same time, it needs to be managed in order to retain the identity of our neighbourhoods.
“Our King”, the Official Plan for King Township, recognizes the importance of retaining neighbourhood character and sets the policies for our Zoning Bylaw. The Zoning Bylaw recognizes the difference in neighbourhoods identifying established residential neighbourhoods, new residential neighbourhoods, mixed use areas, village cores, commercial areas and industrial areas. Established neighbourhoods are broken down even further recognising setbacks, heights, etc. that already exist in a specific area.
The trickiest part of retaining the character of a neighbourhood is architectural control. The Township of King has Village Urban Design Guidelines which speak to style, setbacks, lot coverage and materials for proposed new or renovated structures. The best way to implement these guidelines is through the Site Plan Control process. Unfortunately, a bill recently introduced by the Provincial government (Bill 23) removes the option for municipalities to use this mechanism for development proposals fewer than 10 lots. Township staff are considering if there are other mechanisms that can be used.
An interesting opportunity that we are considering to recognize neighbourhood character is through a Heritage Conservation District process. This process establishes a study area, consults with affected land owners, identifies the characteristics of the neighbourhood, and sets guidelines for development and redevelopment. It does not restrict changes to specific buildings but encourages that change is done keeping the character of the area in mind.
The Township of King is attractive to residents and visitors alike because of its quaint rural character. Let’s get creative and figure out how that can be retained.
Want to learn more? Read the Township's response to Bill 23, including the impacts to heritage, as reported by the King Sentinel.