Springwater okays tree clearing, Geranium proclaims first phase of MSP
Cleared trees – AWARE Simcoe file photo
By Kate Harries AWARE News Network
Is tree clearing part of the development process? Not according to Springwater.
If it is development, a request by the developer Geranium to be allowed to clear 1 hectare of land (2.5 acres) to provide for access to the proposed Micks subdivision at Carson Road and Wilson Drive should be refused, Midhurst resident David Strachan told council at their March 18, 2020 meeting.
Planning Director Brent Spagnol disagreed. “This does not mean that they are going to move forward with development of the property,” he told council. “That still has to come before council in agreement fashion and developers are very well aware of that.”
That may be. But in a bulletin published on March 30 on the township website, Geranium proclaims: “Work begins on site as first phase of Midhurst development takes shape.”
Council – with only Midhurst Councillor Jack Hanna in opposition – voted according to the staff recommendation and granted permission.
When the Ontario Municipal Board granted draft plan approval of the Midhurst Secondary Plan in 2014, it imposed more than 150 conditions. All of those have to be satisfied before the development can go ahead, the OMB ruled.
Many of the conditions are aimed at ensuring that costs of the mega-development do not unfairly impact the rural township ratepayers.
For instance, at the council meeting, Strachan pointed to Condition # 3, which requires that facilities like schools and required infrastructure “are available and implementable in a timely and cost-effective manner such as there is no impact on the township.”
Another example cited by Strachan is Condition #7 which requires a long-term financial plan to be approved by council ensuring that services for the MSP “are provided in a manner that is financially sustainable to the township.”
Strachan challenged councillors on whether they are satisfied that the conditions are being met.
His questions were lobbed over to CAO Jeff Schmidt and Spagnol who both insisted that the tree clearing is a routine request that’s routinely granted to developers who have a draft plan of approval.
“This is clearing trees, it’s not grubbing, it’s not moving forward any development… Those agreements would still have to come before council and council would have to consider whether or not all the (OMB) conditions have been satisfied,” Spagnol said.
Hanna was the only member of council to express a position on the issues raised by Strachan. “If they weren’t doing a development they wouldn’t be cutting trees,” Hanna said of Geranium. “I’m not comfortable that we’re not violating the OMB.” He voted against the staff recommendation. Mayor Allen, Deputy Mayor Jennifer Coughlin and councillors George Cabral, Wanda Maw-Chapman, Anita Moore and Perry Ritchie voted in favour, without speaking to the recommendation.
The tree clearing has to take place before an April 15 deadline set by the Migratory Birds Convention Act. The area to be cut includes existing hedgerows and a wooded area that is located on a township block next to the Public Works yard on Snow Valley Road, which is planned as Street ‘A’ to the subdivision, according to the staff report.
The proposed subdivision lands cover 24 hectares (59 acres) at 2684 Wilson Drive.
The March 18 meeting was the first Springwater Council meeting to be conducted virtually, with some members and staff suitably distanced in the council chambers, and others connected remotely. A special meeting on March 25 was conducted in the same way. Both were live-streamed and are available online.