• Protecting Water and Farmland in Simcoe County

NVCA to OMB on Midhurst issue; transport ministry wants massive road expansion

In Agencies
Mar 30th, 2014

At the March 28th Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority board meeting, the board voted (the vote was fast but I think it was unanimous) to accept the staff recommendation to seek full party status at an April 9th Ontario Municipal Board pre-hearing conference for a hearing initiated by several developers in the Midhurst Secondary Plan.

The developers have appealed to the OMB on the basis of the lack of decision on their plans of subdivision by Simcoe County and lack of decision on zoning by-law amendment applications by Springwater Township, according to the NVCA staff report. NVCA staff has compiled a long list of concerns that require their full participation in this hearing. It was good to hear Springwater Councillor Perry Ritchie strongly support the NVCA involvement in this hearing. True to form, Clearview Deputy Mayor Alicia Savage had concerns about the costs and being kept informed, but in the end she also voted in favour.

So are the pro-development forces on the NVCA board coming around to recognizing the value of the river and the Conservation Authority – or is it just an election year?

I also attended the Simcoe Area Multi-Modal Transportation Strategy Stakeholder Group meeting run by the Provincial Ministry of Transportation held on March 27th at the Simcoe County museum. This study is basically looking at how to handle the projected growth of 70 per cent supposedly coming to Simcoe County by 2041. They looked at various options for moving people and goods into and out of Simcoe County but, predictably and sadly, they basically look to massive road expansions to solve the congestion problems. Most notably they tout an extension of Hwy 427 straight north, then swinging east to bypass Barrie and connect to Highways 400 and 11 near where these two highways split now.

Of course there is no cost given for these options although it will certainly be hundreds of BILLIONS of taxpayers’ dollars and will use unimaginable amounts of aggregate, leaving huge holes in our landscape, not to mention the loss of hundreds or thousands of acres of farmland. What they are really proposing is extending the urban sprawl now covering the GTA to all of Simcoe County. And of course these “transportation planners” are also perpetuating their own jobs beyond their own lifetimes. You can see the whole study at www.SimcoeTransportationStrategy.ca.

The concept of the end of growth is one that is beginning to get wider acceptance as more and more people realize that we just can’t keep expanding our population and concrete jungle forever. But it’s still treated as blasphemy by the old guard to suggest that, as humans, we need to control our own population. But more on that another time.

At the February 28th  NVCA board meeting, directors voted to support the AWARE Simcoe initiative to petition the federal government to include the Nottawasaga River in the new Navigation Protection Act, which is the new and gutted version of the old and powerful Navigable Waters Act. After several board members spoke in favour of deferring the motion and lost that motion on tied vote, only three actually voted against the original motion – Chair Nina Bifolchi, Vice-Chair Gail Ardeil and Earl Hawkins voted against it. Check out Kate Harries’ write up elsewhere on the AWARE Simcoe website.

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