• Protecting Water and Farmland in Simcoe County

Don’t take risks with my money

In Bradford West Gwillimbury
Dec 5th, 2013

By Meade Helman

At a recent special council meeting, I was both shocked and dismayed by some of the comments made by members of council.

Mayor White told other members of council that he was working towards a complete community. Apparently a complete community is based on rec centres and sports facilities, and a variety of housing options is unnecessary. He said the council should be should be willing to take risks so the town can grow.

 First of all, a community isn’t a rec centre, employment lands and good shopping. Those things are positive assets of a community, but are not the community.  Community is people, people interacting and helping each other. People of all ages, sizes, backgrounds, and experiences. Community is church congregations, the membership of social clubs, the community meal, the food bank, neighbors talking over the back fence and on and on. People need a place to live to be part of a community.

Different people need different types of housing, depending on things like their age, their personal situation, and their income. If you want a vibrant diverse community you need a variety of housing options. So please think about that when you talk about building 3,000 expensive single-family homes and no housing for seniors, singles, young couples starting out, and people with low incomes.

I was appalled that Mayor White would encourage council to take risks and by Councillor Crake’s analogy of town spending with gambling. This is a public trust. My opinion is that there should be as little risk as possible and that risk should be mitigated. Gentlemen, you are spending my money and my neighbor’s money. We don’t need another Dissette or a $60 million debt because someone took a risk.

Sadly, council seems unwilling to look at the down-side of growth: high taxes, congestion, loss of farmland, loss of drinkable water. People need to talk with their councillors in all communities and let them know what voters think.

Line 5 interchange very risky for town

The local papers and most of the town will tell you how important it is to build the line 5 / 400 interchange. We need it to grow and it will provide some relief to the County Road 88 / 400 interchange. Unfortunately there are a number of risks that no one seems to want to look at:

The Town Council wants to build a cloverleaf style interchange to handle the “high volume” of traffic that is anticipated and a straight-up intersection with lights wouldn’t handle it.

·        Highway 7 / 400 doesn’t have a cloverleaf and has traffic lights. I think it handles a lot more traffic than line 5 interchange will.

·        The cloverleaf takes a lot more space than the alternative and use more environmentally sensitive land and farmland.

·        The cloverleaf is substantially more expensive both in expropriation and infrastructure.

The council wants to use the town engineering department to do the construction. These are the people that brought us the Dissette fiasco. Enough said.

Freeway interchanges are the province’s responsibility. It has been acknowledged that when the Province widens 400 it will put in a new bridge and interchange. What is the hurry? Why can’t we wait and let them build it with their money?

The Province and the County have consented to fixed amounts of contribution. What happens when there is the inevitable cost escalation?

We are going to finance the town’s portion of the project through development charges. There is an agreement for developers to prepay this charges and they are to be repaid in a fixed time period from new development. What happens if the development doesn’t occur? This is 10s of millions of dollars.

If the plan doesn’t come off perfectly, who is going to pay for the mistakes… Taxpayers.

Need for industrial land

Recently a consultant was brought to BWG council to discuss what, in his opinion, was the great need for industrial land in the GTA. The following, which I think speaks for itself, is a quote from a recent Toronto Star article. It is a shame that council took the consultant’s words at face value rather doing some research. It may result in severe financial repercussions for the town.

“The first myth it dispels is one promulgated by the development industry, namely that land is in short supply. Connected to that is the secondary belief that the cause of the land shortage is the provincial Greenbelt and Places to Grow legislation. “Our study shows there’s plenty of land left,” says Pembina’s Cherise Burda. “In fact, there’s enough land left in settlement areas to accommodate growth and employment well beyond 2031.” But as Burda also notes, “It’s not the land developers want, but there’s land.”

That’s an important distinction; the development industry has grown enormously rich on sprawl and above all wants to keep doing exactly that. “

Link to the full article. If you do read the article note how density (which our council studiously ignores) and transit play an important role in building communities and growth.

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