talsimanThe Grey Highlands Climate Action Group has noticed that there will be a special meeting of Council on Feb. 26, but it is closed. Since we cannot attend we are forwarding you this memo stating our concerns and guidelines for development of the Beaver Valley property owned by the municipality.

On October 14, CAO of Grey Highlands Karen Govan issued a press release regarding “Beaver Valley Development” alerting the public that private and municipally owned land in the Beaver Valley is currently the subject of study by “Grey County’s economic development team, and their investment attraction consultants, thinkCOMPASS.”

The press release states, “Development of these public and private sector properties will serve as an anchor for the revitalization of the Beaver Valley and by extension downtown Markdale and the greater Grey Highlands region” and calling for “community visioning sessions to solicit public input on the future opportunities presented by the Municipally owned properties in both downtown Markdale and in the Beaver Valley.”

We would like to suggest the following guiding principles be integral to the process:

That a thorough community consultation take place early in any planning process, include all sectors of the community, and continue as the decision-making process advances. Governments at all levels are using citizen-based processes to frame goals and achieve best results. We recognize that this undertaking requires commitment and possibly the use of consultation services.

That the area be designed as an attraction for its beauty and combined historical, environmental, architectural and commercial attractions.

That we take a long view approach, not just a short-term revenue-generating approach, and consider the highest possible public good that can be derived from this land using the best possible design.

That a climate lens be applied to planning the future of this area prioritizing stewardship; for example, retaining biodiversity, promoting sequestration and resilience, respect and celebrate unique geographical characteristics, plant life, etc.

That any building construction follow a net-zero emissions requirement as per examples of CFM projects; powered by renewables

That any accommodation offered not be labelled or priced as “luxury” and not include privately owned dwellings

That development promote outdoor education and health, both mental and physical, and maximize accessibility by, and benefits to, all income groups, ages, abilities, etc.

Include an educational/touristic component: where appropriate materials posted on history, biology, ecology and geography of the area, including first nations (Involve South Grey Museum and perhaps Grey Roots Museum)

That current land uses be considered and built upon; for example, food culture, agriculture, recreation

That interested parties be kept up-to-date on all input received, decisions made and any other developments with regard to these properties.

Thank you for inviting public participation in this unique opportunity to enhance the Beaver Valley region. The area has long been an attraction in all seasons for its outstanding natural beauty and its unique geologic and climatic conditions that support distinctive agriculture and matchless recreational pursuits. Let’s build upon these inherent advantages and improve the circumstances for all residents and visitors, human or otherwise.

Grey Highlands Climate Action Group