Novae Res Urbis, Vol. 15, No.3, GTA Edition By Kristine Janzen
Simcoe area planning and development stakeholders are anticipating the release of Amendment 1 to the Provincial Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe tomorrow by infrastructure minister Bob Chiarelli. The technical briefing and luncheon is to take place at the Nottawasaga Inn Resort and Conference Centre.
The proposed amendment was released by the province in October 2010. It focused on identifying urban nodes in Simcoe County and in Barrie and Orillia where growth and intensifi cation should be directed. The amendment established population and employment growth allocations for nodes and other serviced settlement areas, as well as a process to assess the oversupply of land available for development. It also identified strategic employment areas along the Highway 400 corridor.
On November 1, 2011 the provincial development facilitator completed a comprehensive process, carrying out additional consultations with municipalities, and provided recommendations to the infrastructure minister.
While the province has not yet released any details of the final amendment or the provincial development facilitator’s report, some Simcoe area politicians are hopeful the results of several years of planning and consultation will have positive results.
“We are eager to see what the province has come up with. They’ve been tight-lipped on details,” commented Springwater Township mayor Linda Collins. The Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing appealed the township’s Midhurst Secondary Plan to the Ontario Municipal Board last fall after it was adopted by Simcoe County, citing inconsistencies with the Provincial Policy Statement and Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe.
Anticipating the release of the amendment, a letter from Chiarelli was sent to stakeholders at the end of December announcing completion of the provincial development facilitator’s work and issuing an invitation to tomorrow’s event.
“After an extensive consultation process on Proposed Amendment 1 to the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe and some great work by the provincial development facilitator, the province has developed a shared vision for sustainable growth in the Simcoe Area. This vision supports job creation, increases planning certainty, and improves quality of life while focusing growth in existing communities and protecting farmland and green spaces. The path forward must now be the result of strong partnership and continued dialogue,” wrote Minister Chiarelli in a December 23, 2011 letter to stakeholders regarding tomorrow’s event.
“I believe that our “made-in-Simcoe” approach will allow Simcoe municipalities, Barrie and Orillia to approve development that makes sense for their communities, protects the natural environment, safeguards the water quality of Lake Simcoe and supports local agriculture. I look forward to sharing this approach with you,” wrote Chiarelli.
Meanwhile, the Town of Innisfi l is hopeful its suggestions, not included in the proposed amendment, will be recognized in the new policy. It proposes an urban node designation for Alcona, alternative intensifi cation target of 23 per cent and a new policy to recognize the importance of employment areas along the Highway 400 corridor beyond the 2031 planning horizon.
“If we were given that [urban node] designation [in Alcona], we would continue to look for more ways to become more urban and more multi-storey. Obviously, if [the province doesn’t] recognize that designation, it makes it more difficult to achieve our own urbanization agenda, which we’ve set out for Alcona in our strategic plan,” explained Innisfi l communications officer Michèle Newton in an interview with NRU.
Innisfil deputy mayor Dan Davidson questions the planning rationale behind including an urban node in Bradford West Gwillimbury, which does not have water services, and not in Innisfi l, which is currently sharing water with Bradford West Gwillimbury. He thinks political motivations are behind the amendment.
“We basically have all of the criteria for an urban node. We’ve got huge growth happening in that area, about 27,000 people when it’s completed. We meet about 98 per cent of the [provincial requirements] and we’re looking at transit for that area. We meet the criteria better than Bradford. I think the politicians are playing games. It tends to be considered a very conservative area, and I think we’re being penalized for that,” commented Davidson in an interview with NRU.
According to Davidson, an urban node designation would also help with infrastructure funding for the area down the road.
Allowing Innisfi l to expand the designated Innisfi l Heights employment area along the Highway 400 corridor with additional uses will allow the town to cater to a broader range of employment uses. Including more business services, light manufacturing and supporting commercial businesses in the area will help support residential growth and provide greater employment opportunities, explained Innisfi l mayor Barb Baguley in an interview with NRU.
The current boundary of the Innisfi l Heights employment area is 320 hectares and the town has proposed expanding it to a total area of 690 hectares.
“The employments lands [outlined in the proposed amendment for the Innisfi l Heights Strategic Industrial Employment Area] are undersized for what the municipality has determined is required to be successful. We designated a larger area, a continuation of the existing area, that is pivotally important to the health and wellbeing of our municipality,” explained Baguley.
Smart growth advocates such as environmental lawyer David Donnelly (Donnelly Law) believe the amendment should focus on higher densities and a reduced ecological footprint for new growth, beyond what was initially proposed, to further restrict the impacts of sprawl in Simcoe.
“Most of the new development proposals in Simcoe County are stuck in a 1990’s mindset that will require new infrastructure funding the province simply doesn’t have. A simple benchmark for the amendment should be this: when the sidewalks of Simcoe County are as congested as Highway 400, we’ll have struck the right balance,” said Donnelly.
Stay tuned for more details and comments on the amendment in next week’s GTA edition of NRU.
Simcoe County’s new director of planning, development and tourism Dave Parks began his role Monday following the retirement of Bryan MacKell, who was involved throughout the consultation process. Parks was formerly the director of planning for Severn Township.
See the original article here: 120118NRG