Essa to oppose greenbelt expansion plans, fears Alliston encroachment
Essa Township is joining with its neighbour, Adjala Tosorontio, in opposition to the provoincial government’s proposed expansion of the greenbelt protection zone along the Nottawasaga River corridor.
A report to council on tomorrow night’s agenda from planning manager Colleen Healey notes the expanded boundaries as laid out in the provincial government’s draft mapping, “could lead to very little growth in Essa.” It’s a similar position taken by Adjala Tosorontio, as well, Simcoe County in the broader context of its member municipalities.
The provincial government is currently collecting comments for its proposal, with a March 7 deadline. Ms. Healey refers to the expansion as “another study and potential planning policy to restrict development in the Township, and again, taking away autonomy and decision-making authority at the local level.”
“What is particularly disturbing to staff is the lack of local autonomy which would result if this new policy continues,” according to Ms. Healey’s report. “Staff is feeling that Essa is losing all ability to have a say in where growth and development should go within the Township. It already seems that there is little need for our own OP as most policies are now dictated by both the Province and the County.”
Her report suggests the province could be setting Alliston up to “grow into Essa on prime agricultural land.”
“If the new Greenbelt expansion goes ahead, as is currently suggested,” Ms. Healey suggests, “there could be very little growth in Essa in the future except around Alliston where lands remain in a “white belt” (and possibly around Thornton but on the lnnisfil side of CR 27). According to the map provided and attached, which is somewhat vague, Angus and the rest of the Municipality (except around Alliston and possibly Thornton) could be affected by a Greenbelt expansion aimed to protect lands where glacial deposits of sand and gravel are suspected, and which are low-lying and characteristic of wetlands. Also of concern may be the investment already placed in the expansion of the Angus Sewage Treatment Plant years ago (around the year 2000). There is still excess wastewater capacity remaining at this plant and so the Municipality will want to ensure its use does not go to waste as this was a considerable financial investment to the Municipality.”