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Innisfil’s population grab helps Cookstown development’s chances

In Council Watch
Oct 3rd, 2016
Councillor Rob Nicol

by Rick Vanderlinde Innisfil Journal Sep 29, 2016

A development that some Cookstown residents say will change the character of the community and others fear will impact environmentally sensitive land is a small step closer to reality.

Council voted 5-4 last week in favour of designating lands north of Hwy. 89 on the west side of the village for future urban use.

But the 152-unit proposal still faces formidable hurdles before the first shovel hits the ground.

The vote allows the development to be considered for Simcoe County’s 20,000 population program, which allows municipalities to apply for population targets beyond those approved to 2031. Innisfil’s 2031 target is 56,000.

The county wants applications for the additional population requests before the end of the year.

Development lawyer Marvin Geist urged council to approve the move so the town could grab a bigger piece of the population pie before other municipalities do.

“If we don’t grab as much population as we can now, I won’t even be alive when we get the next chance,” Geist told council. “God only knows that Cookstown needs more population to support business.”

In July, Claudio Paolini, who built the Foodland plaza in 1989, told council staying in business has been challenging because of Cookstown’s slow growth.

But some residents complained that the development would alter the community’s character by creating higher densities in the 1,200-resident village.

“Culturally it doesn’t fit, esthetically it doesn’t fit,” Haller said during a July 28 public planning meeting. “This is not compatible with the village at all.”

While the “urban use” designation allows plans to move forward, there a number of challenges facing the development including a lack of sewage capacity.

Cookstown’s wastewater plant would have to be upgraded to allow the subdivision.

Coun. Rob Nicol, whose ward includes Cookstown, voted against the amendment, saying the development faces too many issues.

“There are so many flaws in this,” he said.

Coun. Richard Simpson argued that Cookstown does not have the infrastructure to take on more population.

Simpson said growth should be directed to the Alcona-Lefroy area, where a new GO train station will be built.

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