Midhurst developers get 3-year extensions on draft plan approvals
Councillor Jack Hanna
by Kate Harries AWARE News Network
Springwater Council has granted three-year extensions of the approval of draft plans for five subdivisions in the Midhurst Secondary Plan area.
The subdivisions were approved by the Ontario Municipal Board on October 29 2014, with differing conditions, all to be completed within five years. They comprise a total of 3,161 units, which would quadruple Midhurst’s present population by adding more than 9,000 people.
The developers’ request for five-year extensions was on the agenda for the June 6 council meeting.
David Strachan, representing the Midhurst Ratepayers Association, asked council to limit the extensions to one year as has been the practice. Noting that the Midhurst Residents’ Liaison Group, set up to provide information on the MSP, is no longer active, Strachan also asked for an update on how many of the OMB conditions have been satisfied.
Planning Director Brent Spagnol indicated that much work remains to be done, with many of the conditions related to an environmental assessment that was submitted to the environment ministry last September, with no decision forthcoming to date.
“The expectation for when an approval comes forward from the ministry is that there will be a significant number of conditions that will be satisfied,” he said. At that point, council will get an update, he said, arguing strongly against any extension shorter than five years.
CAO Robert Brindley disagreed with Strachan on a one-year extension being normal practice. Longer extensions are normal at the start of the process, he said.
Councillor Jack Hanna suggested the one-year option was preferable because it would ensure council is kept informed. Councillor Anita Moore proposed the three-year compromise that was adopted, as “we would still be present to receive the reports.”
The following are the subdivisions in question (for more details including maps, see item 9.1 on Springwater’s June 6 agenda):
-The Bell Rusdor Coutts subdivision on lands located within Neighbourhood 2 of the MSP and owned by 1754865 Ontario Ltd., 1754866 Ontario Ltd., and 1755571 Ontario Ltd. The OMB imposed 170 conditions of approval to be completed within five years. The subdivision is to consist of 569 low density single detached residential units and 341 townhouse residential units, a mixed use block, a public elementary school, open space park areas, environmental protection areas, and public use facilities (i.e. servicing block).
-The Micks subdivision on lands at 2683 Wilson Drive in Neighbourhood 1 of the MSP owned by 1757704 Ontario Ltd. The OMB imposed 150 conditions of approval to be completed within five years. The subdivision is to include 339 low density residential units, residential reserve blocks, a park block, environmental protection areas, and public use facilities such as a storm water management pond and a pumping station.
-The D. Hickling subdivision on lands in Neighbourhood 1 of the MSP owned by 1757688 Ontario Ltd. The OMB imposed 162 conditions of approval to be completed within five years. It is to comprise 791 low-density residential units, open space park blocks, environmental protection areas, future residential blocks, mixed use/seniors’ housing, mixed use/school and public use facilities such as storm water management ponds.
-The A&R Hickling subdivision on lands in Neighourhood 1 of the MSP owned by 1757689 Ontario Ltd. and 1757690 Ontario Ltd. The OMB imposed 154 conditions of approval to be completed within five years. The subdivision is to include 506 low density single detached residential units and 186 rear access townhouse units, open space park blocks, an environmental protection area, future development blocks, mixed use, and public use facilities such as storm water management ponds.
-The Rome subdivision on lands in Neighbourhood 1of the MSP owned by 1757699 Ontario Ltd. The OMB imposed 161 conditions of approval to be completed within five years. It is to consist of 315 low density single detached residential units and 114 townhouse residential units, a mixed use block, open space areas, environmental protection areas, and public use facilities (i.e. servicing block).
In relation to the Midhurst Secondary Plan, Hanna focused on a letter Allen sent to the provincial government regarding its regional government review. It states: “Springwater continues to be robust and sustainable as a result of good planning.”
This may be true, said Hanna, but a major obstacle in the path of good local planning has been the province changing the rules to counter local wishes.
Hanna cited the Special Rule whereby the Liberal government allowed the Midhurst Secondary Plan to proceed despite the fact that it violated provincial legislation and despite a petition signed by more than 40,000 people.
Hanna also noted how Simcoe County in 2016 went against the township’s wishes, granting Midhurst developers a 3,000-person portion of a bonus population allocation.
It would have been a good idea to have made the point to the province about the adverse effect of interference from upper tiers of government, Hanna said.
As if on cue, the next day, June 6, the provincial government passed Bill 108, which is expected to have significant impact on municipal planning, infrastructure financing, revenue generation and public input. The legislation has been widely condemned for abandoning the principle that growth should pay for growth.
A group of developers – Carson Road Development Inc., Midhurst Development Doran Road Inc., Midhurst Rose Alliance O’Brien Inc., Midhurst Rose Alliance Cooney Inc., Midhurst Rose Alliance Inc., GCSJ Hillsdale Development Inc. and Hillsdale Land Corp. have appealed the township’s development charges bylaw to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT)
Bill 108 – now the More Homes, More Choice Act – could simplify matters for them.