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Midhurst Developments-Backroom deal-Profound betrayal by County

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Oct 6th, 2016
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from the Springwater News October 6 2016

As you may have heard, read or saw, I have strong words for the way a decision was made behind closed doors that negatively impacts Springwater. The County was provided the authority from the Province to approve and allocate a total of 20,000 extra population above the schedules in the Provincial Places to Grow Policies. The process was straight forward. Anyone could apply for some of this population in any of the 16 municipalities in the County of Simcoe.

In Springwater, in the Midhurst area, a number of applications were put forward that totalled about 6,000 extra people. The County by way of bylaw set up a quasi-judicial process to hear the applications and then make a binding final decision. Part of the criteria was a preference that the local municipality would support the applications. In early 2016 the Township of Springwater passed a unanimous resolution to deny any applications for extra population as there were already approximately 4,700 homes approved in Midhurst subject to meeting a number of stringent conditions. This would equate to anywhere from 12,000 to 15,000 in population growth even though the Province projected only 6,500 to 2031 for all of Springwater.

The hearings were held in May of this year and all population requests were denied by the County except for a total additional population of 15 people or 5 extra homes. We were satisfied with the outcome and accepted the final and binding decision. It should be noted that because it was a jury type hearing, Deputy Mayor Allen and I recused ourselves from the hearing as we wanted to take the high road and have an unbiased jury make the decision. To ensure the decision was final, the County launched an appeal to the OMB to confirm that the County was the exclusive approval authority and that the decision was final and binding and not subject to an OMB appeal.

Everything was proceeding as expected and the hearings were conducted in July this year at the OMB with the OMB deferring its decision as they decided they wanted to combine a fall hearing to deal with the jurisdiction matter and a number of outstanding appeals regarding the Midhurst Secondary Plan, known as OPA38. The Township lawyer, Barnet Kussner was the lead at the May hearings where the applications by the landowners were denied. Mr. Kussner also lead the arguments at the July hearing and was gearing up for the OMB hearing that was to commence on Oct 5th. This is where the wheels fall off.

Out of the blue Wednesday evening last week our lawyer is informed that the County has struck a deal with the Midhurst Landowners and will allot half the requests even though the hearing denied them all except for the 15 people allocation I just mentioned. Remember our lawyer was the lead at the May and July hearing and he was not even consulted as this deal was being negotiated behind closed doors. This week we will be meeting with our solicitor to see what can be done about this unprecedented betrayal and reversal of a binding decision. It simply reeks. You as taxpayers should be quite upset at this action by the County and we all should definitely question the County’s leadership on this matter. The County’s explanation and justification in their news release, for this backroom deal, is quite flawed. Now some reflection from our High School Literature class; The speaker is Marcellus, a guard, who talks to his philosophical comrade, Horatio, saying, “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark …“ (Act-I, Scene-IV). You decide any similarity. I will update you as we proceed.

Public Information Centre One of the main conditions for the final approvals for any of the development for Midhurst is an Environmental Assessment. We are into the final phases 3 and 4 of that work. The assessment deals with all aspects of servicing the new homes including waste water treatment, water services and the main road infrastructure for what could be an ultimate additional 30,000 population or 10,000 homes on full buildout. Regardless of where you live in Springwater, I encourage you to be informed and attend this open house at Snow Valley Resort on Oct 18th from 4:30 to 9:00 p.m. There will be experts available and an opportunity to ask questions. What happens in Midhurst affects all of Springwater, just as what happens in Elmvale affects all of Springwater. Please come out.

Springwater Sports Heritage Hall of Fame It was a sold out crowd at the 2016 induction banquet last Friday night. Since I am sure there will be multiple articles on the dinner in this paper, I would just like to extend greetings on behalf of Council to the inductees. They included Leo Belcourt, baseball; Stan Ritchie, hockey; Percy Frankcom, builder in local hockey; Elmer McFadden, builder in both hockey and baseball; Stan Ritchie again as builder in both hockey and baseball and Gummy Rowat, builder in fastball and hockey. The team awards went to both the 55/56 and 58/59 Elmvale Lions Club Juvenile Hockey Team and the 64 Elmvale Palace Hotel Fastball Team. Congratulations to all recipients. A special thanks goes to the tireless work of the executive and all the sponsors for such an amazing event.

Mayor’s Open Visiting Hours Just a reminder that every Friday from 1 to 4:30, I will be hosting my open hours where you can drop in and address complaints, concerns or even appreciation for what is happening in Springwater. I have had numerous people come by and in some cases we have resolved some simple issues. The door is open. If you can’t make it and want to keep up to date, you can listen to my thoughts on items of interest on our local Kool FM or Rock 95 or go to their website as they have a feature with a monthly interview with me hosted by Dan Blakely.

Keep informed and involved with Springwater by checking out our website www.springwwater.ca and especially our calendar of meetings. Tune into our live streaming of the Council Meetings at www.springwater.ca/live . Stay close to the action and read this excellent local paper, the Springwater News, and check out our regular Springwater Link and Council Corner columns. Be part of the solution and have your say. Contact me at 705-728-4784 ext. 2040 or my cell at 705-718-7031 or email at bill.french@springwater.ca and follow me on twitter @MayorFrench

A reminder these articles are my thoughts and perspectives on issues and I am but one voice on Council. These opinions may not reflect the position of other Councillors.

Bill French is the mayor of Springwater Township

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