With concerns that Porcupine is being lost in the city's planning, a local woman is working to educate people about how important municipal documents like the Official Plan are.
Timmins Official Plan is up for review and the draft document was submitted to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing last year.
The Official Plan is a roadmap for the city's future. It sets out how land should be used such as where housing or development will happen, what infrastructure is needed, what parts of the community will grow and community improvement initiatives.
For Carol Tanguay, the local document lacks vision and she's encouraging people to get involved. To help people understand the importance of the city's Official Plan, she's started the Facebook group Voices of Porcupine.
“I’m doing this just to inform and educate people as to how important these documents are because no one seems to be doing that,” she said.
Now is the window of opportunity for people to speak up, she said.
“This is a new document and this is the chance for everyone to say how they would like to see the city developed for the future," said Tanguay.
Every day, she shares a snippet of what the documents mean to help people understand it, or other legislation.
"I’m not an expert, so I’m open for correction if I’m saying something wrong,” she said.
For the Official Plan, the draft document submitted to the Ministry last year removed Porcupine as having a downtown. It was included in the previous document.
In March, manager of planning Cindy Welsh explained to council that it was removed to align the draft plan with the Downtown Community Improvement Project Plan area, which doesn't include the community.
To change the Community Improvement Plan to include Porcupine, a public process is needed.
Welsh said planning staff is working on a plan to bring it forward and a public process will be part of it. Porcupine should also be included in the next draft of the Official Plan.
The city has received the Ministry's comments on it. The next step is presenting a report to council in late summer, according to Welsh.
Tanguay noted other areas of the city, such as Kamiskotia or Barber's Bay are also not included in the Official Plan. While it mentions wetlands, she said the wetland areas are not identified like in other municipalities' plans.
She looks to Sudbury as an example of an easy-to-understand plan.
“When I’m reading it, you can tell how proud they are. When I read ours it feels old and it feels like a cut-and-paste document,” she said, adding Timmins should be bouncing off the paper.
She added that everyone is at fault.
“The government is trying to preserve the lands and the water, so they’re putting in some policies so that all of these areas are protected. The city needs to get guidance from the public as to how they want to see their city grow and develop, but no one’s attending the public meetings, nobody is participating in this process, so the city has nowhere to get their information except from two documents dated 2004 — 17 years ago,” she said.
“The city can’t move until the people start to participate. The residents aren’t participating because they don’t understand, they don’t understand what this document is for and how it’s working and what it means.”