Tuesday February 23: Springwater Official Plan review online
This is your chance to engage in the future of your township
By Bill French
The current Springwater Official Plan dates back to 1998 and aside from a number of amendments over the last 23 years, it is based on a different vision of the future development and growth of the Township. It had many holes in the Plan that some clever land speculators exploited to the long-term detriment of Springwater.
The Review of the Plan began in the last term of Council and the Council of the day outlined a detailed preparatory process to make sure that everyone interested had input. I had the pleasure of leading Council at the time and since I come from a business background, I knew that an effective plan must have a solid foundation.
We began with a Communication strategy, then conducted a number of Visioning workshops that were well attended. This resulted in a first draft of a discussion paper, a Public Meeting, a Section 26 Public Meeting and then the completion of the discussion paper and Growth Management Strategy.
Because of the change in Council Leadership and then a year of COVID-19, we are now at the next phase. On February 23rd from 6 to 8 p.m. There will be a special meeting to present, review and ask questions about three important aspects of the Official Plan Review.
The three background Reports include one report and detailed information on Population Related Employment or in simple language businesses and employment based on the growth of the population itself. The second report will be on an Intensification Strategy which means, how much more residential and commercial/industrial development can be undertaken within the built boundaries of Elmvale and Midhurst. The third report is the Bayfield Corridor Study which has always been a key focus of the future of Springwater, but until this report, has not been well defined.
This is your chance to engage in the future of Springwater. You can ask questions during the meeting and all the information is on the Township website and can be found under the Business and Development tab and then click on the Official Plan link and scroll down to the information being presented at the meeting. I want to compliment the drafters of these reports and they are certainly in line with my thinking of how we can develop a vibrant and prosperous Springwater over the next 20 to 30 years.
In 2015, I presented an idea to the Minister of Municipal and Rural Affairs, Ted McMeekin, with a vision for the Bayfield Corridor which is in line with the concepts being presented at this meeting, which I fully support with some minor changes. I wish the Bayfield Corridor Plan would have been finalized before the residential developments in the Midhurst Secondary Plan had been permitted to advance.
My only criticism is that there appears to be no plan for employment and business development in Hillsdale which is our third primary development community which is expecting growth of about 1,500 to 2,000 people over the next 20 years. It has some large tracts of industrial land that could be incorporated for the long term economic growth of Springwater.
Following this meeting the consultants will take away the input and start the draft of the Official Plan itself and hopefully a few more public input sessions even though the Planning Act does not require such input. Please don’t miss this important step in the development of a new Official Plan for Springwater.
As we are now slowly rising from the lockdown and opening things up cautiously, let me remind you to wear a mask, sanitize and wash your hands regularly after touching anything outside of your home and stay six feet from anyone outside your immediate circle.
Again, please remember these are my thoughts and I am not asking you to agree. I respect your freedom of expression and encourage you to SPEAK UP, before that freedom is taken from us!!
Bill French is a seasoned business leader with over 40 years experience and served in senior positions of International Enterprises. Bill served as Mayor of Springwater and a County of Simcoe Councillor from 2014 to 2018 and has taught business at the college level for over 15 years. You can also read these articles on line at http://springwatercitizens.blogspot.com/