Everett growth plan dominates candidates meeting
By Brad PritchardAlliston Herald
ADJALA-TOSORONTIO – The Everett Secondary Plan dominated the discussion at the first all-candidates meeting for the Adjala-Tosorontio municipal election.
Tuesday night’s two-hour meeting at the Everett Legion organized by the Adjala-Tosorontio Residents’ Association unfolded in front of standing room only crowd.
All but one of the candidates, deputy mayor hopeful Mark Loranger, took part in the event, along with the candidates running for the local school board trustee positions.
During the question session with the audience, candidates were asked if they’d go back to the drawing board on the secondary plan (OPA15), a proposal to grow the community to around 6,600 people beyond the next 30 years.
The plan also calls for a new multimillion dollar sewage treatment plant to be built in the north end of the community, which would discharge treated effluent into the Pine River.
While the cost for the new infrastructure would be funded by development, existing homes on aging septic systems would pay thousands to hook up to the new system.
Mayoral candidate and current deputy mayor Mary Small Brett said she would not revisit the proposal, which is currently before Simcoe County for review.
“No, we need to move forward,” she said.
Instead, she is pledging to conduct an inclusive review of the strategic plan to give residents more input on the township’s future.
She admitted the township hasn’t done a good enough job communicating with residents on the issue. However, she defended the need for the growth, saying provincial legislation changes to protect drinking water will eventually force people off their aging septic systems.
“Great communities are based on well thought out infrastructure, and this comes from controlled, planned development,” she said. “This built out development is not going to happen quickly, but it does need to be planned now.”
Mayoral contender and former Everett councillor Leo Losereit wants to scrap the proposal and take another look at previous smaller scale development plans for the community.
“What we are faced with here is a large urban sprawl project, which is outside the scope of our current official plan,” he said.
“What they are trying to do is make a secondary plan for Everett that ignores the already available spaces for development,” he added.
Losereit, an Everett resident, said it would cost his family around $20,000 to hook up to the proposed sewage system.
Other candidates promising to slam the brakes on the plan include Ward 3 candidate Chantale Gagnon and Ward 4 candidate Dave Rose, both members of the Everett Ratepayers Association, which is opposed to the plan.
Deputy Mayor candidate and current Ward 3 Coun. Doug Little said he wouldn’t bring it back for review, but supports having more discussion on the proposal.
“I think we need the residents here to sit down with us as a council in a controlled environment, and with a provincial people there, to know what can take place or what they may do here if we don’t move forward with something when we have the opportunity for someone else (developers) to pay,” he said.
Fellow deputy mayor candidate Ken Pratt is troubled by the plan. He crunched some numbers for the crowd and believes it would actually be cheaper to let residents just replace their septic systems.
“Father used to say figures don’t lie, but liars figure,” he said. “And we have to watch out when we are looking at this.”
The issue of transparency was another talking point during the evening.
Losereit is promising to make major changes within the first 100 days of being elected, from giving residents more opportunity to speak at public meetings, to having meetings recorded. Losereit, along with Gagnon, is also pushing to have the full council agendas posted on the township website.
Pratt, meanwhile, suggested changing the council meetings to Wednesdays instead of Mondays to give residents more time to read the agendas.
“I think it’s very important council fits the time of the constituents, not the constituents fit the time of the council,” he said.
Residents will have another chance to hear the candidates speak at Thursday’s candidates meeting taking place at the Upper Canada Camp, 1713 Concession Road 2, north of 5 Sideroad of Adjala, at 7 p.m.