It’s not too late to slow down and modify terrible Midhurst plan
By Bill French Springwater News November 3 2013
On May 17th of this year the township held an information meeting and provided documents as an overview for the Midhurst Secondary Plan titled Midhurst 20/20. There was also a public open house on the Midhurst Secondary Plan EA process on May 29th.
In September the township published its response to the questions posed and held a special council meeting on September 17th with a hired lawyer to outline the township’s position. This is the third installment of articles on this complex issue. I encourage you to read the document yourself and form your own opinion. Certain questions and answers are truncated for space consideration.
Question 23: Where will wastewater be discharged to?
Township Answer: Willow Creek by Golf Club Road.
Question 24: What happens to pharmaceuticals, cleansers etc. that pass through the sewage plant and are discharged?
Township Answer: The WWTP will use state of the art technologies and will be designed in accordance with Ministry of Environment (MOE) regulations.
Questions 26 and 27 also speak to the issue and the township provides reference to 2008 studies of EA 1 and 2.
My Opinion: I am surprised that this is not the biggest issue with the township. This week there are news stories outlining the concern of the health of the Nottawasaga River watershed and in particular phosphorous runoff from development and farming. Developers will point to farmers but the modern farmer is better at chemistry in their crop growth than the scientists trying to justify unneeded growth in rural areas such as Midhurst. The developer’s engineer at the open house on Oct 23 stated that at low flow the Midhurst development wastewater discharge would increase flow by 30%. With the Nottawasaga watershed already stressed, how does adding 10,000 homes to the situation improve things? There is already evidence from the Steelheaders Group that many fish species are being negatively affected because of urban sprawl and the Midhurst Mega development may just push it over the edge in my opinion. Nancy Chong from Midhurst recently included an excellent article on other species negatively impacted.
Thirst for growth
Question 25: Can the township provide the specific study which changed the growth from 2004 Growth Study to that of the 2008 Midhurst Secondary Plan?
Township Answer: A report regarding density for the new development was received by the Planning Committee on April 28, 2007 under resolution PC-2008-119. The density changed to 40 people/jobs per hectare.
My Opinion: This is one of the first errors of the Springwater council. Overnight they changed from an anticipated growth of 6,500 to 28,000 without digesting the impact they were putting in motion. The point missed is that in 2005 and 2006 the Province released its Provincial Policy Statement and its Places to Grow to stop sprawl.
The township ignored it and under the enthusiasm and thirst for growth the council, which included the current Collins and Clement, unleashed this hideous situation we are now faced with. Instead of growth being controlled and farmland saved, they just multiplied the number of homes they could put on the land – instead of reducing the area for the 6,500 specified in the 2004 plan.
The council of the day and then this council had a great number of opportunities to rescind the MSP, reduce the settlement area boundaries and take back control of planning in Springwater. We should not be surprised as Collins has stated many times that we should leave development to the developers as they know how best to use the land. She is right in one way, they will stuff as many houses on a piece of dirt as possible.
High density to be abandoned?
Question 28: If high density housing means low income families, will the township or school board be implementing after school programs for children?
Township answer: Mentions that high density is not just geared to low income families. Also mentions School Board is responsible for programs and some are currently offered at Forest Hill Public School.
Question 29: Will transit be available to take children to sports activities in Barrie in the evenings?
Township answer: A transit plan is part of the EA 3 and 4 studies and transit will be considered once an adequate population and demand are present.
My Opinion: These answers confirm the naivety of the last two councils. They are acting like we are adding a few more homes in the area. The current school cannot handle the influx as planned and a whole new approach will be needed costing us all more money. I agree that there will not be a lot of low income families as there is no transportation or local services.
My guess would be that, once the ball starts rolling and a few large homes are built and it’s too far down the road to turn back, you will see the developer propose new plans with lower density bigger houses and the township will simply comply or the developer will take the case to the OMB and get their way anyway.
This all contradicts the concept of having affordable housing as part of the mix. The plans of today that were seen last week will be quite different as this mega venture progresses. As far as transit let’s face it a basic system of a couple of buses in Midhurst would be in excess of a $1M a year which will not be self-sufficient through a rider pay system increasing taxes again. This whole mega development is so ill conceived it is almost inconceivable. Even the developer will not commit to a timetable for transit because it is not their problem. It will be our problem in the end to deal with.
In the next installment I will spend a lot of time dissecting questions 34 to 37 which are quite complicated. Please read the document from the Sept 17th meeting and you will better understand my comments in the next article.
It is still not too late to slow down and modify this terrible plan for Midhurst. It will affect all of us especially where it hurts, in our pocket books with increased taxes. I am pleased that many more people are coming to Council and Planning meetings in recent months as residents realize that regardless of where they live they will pay the price of the bad decisions and direction of the Midhurst Secondary Plan.
Talk to the Mayor, Deputy and Mayor and Council and tell them to stop the greatest calamity that Springwater has ever experienced. The Midhurst Plan as planned is a disaster waiting to happen and you and I cannot afford it!
Keep informed by following http://springwatercitizens.blogspot.com/