• Protecting Water and Farmland in Simcoe County

Why Not Protect Springwater’s Unique Character?

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In Agriculture
May 7th, 2014
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My View – During my career I had the opportunity of living in some nice cities and enjoyed it very much. I spent two years in London, England living in the Kensington High Street area in a lovely 3 bedroom flat. I lived for a year in Santa Monica in a beautiful Condo Complex at Marina Del Rey and had Mick Jagger as a neighbor in the building next to mine. I also did a half-year stint in Boston. We lived and raised our children in Scarborough for 17 years. In all cases my wife and I enjoyed the amenities that were offered and the many conveniences. As expected we paid dearly for those conveniences.

After a hectic 35-year business career, I decided that I would forego some of those amenities for a simpler way of life. I chose Springwater because of its natural setting and its collection of small communities. Maybe I am selfish, but I think many people moved here for the same reason.

Last weekend I was reminded of why I moved to Springwater Township when I semi-retired. I attended two Church Suppers on Saturday. I visited the Grenfel United Church supper attended by about 150 people and also the Midhurst United Church Supper attended by about 300 people. These events are the true marks of rural living and the very reason why so many want to protect it against the speculators and profiteers that have invaded the Midhurst area in recent years. Where do you find gatherings today when many faces are recognized when you go into the room. You may not know them by name but you have seen them in your community on a regular basis.

Contrasting that was the open house on Wednesday to view the subdivision plans for the Mega Developments in Midhurst. Effectively, if both phases are allowed to proceed, there will be another 10,000 homes or about 28,000 more people in this rural peaceful hamlet. It is simply crazy. The plans for the approved lands outlined two areas of development around Midhurst with the first phase requesting the approval of zoning for over 5,000 new dwelling units. That would represent a 400% increase in the number of homes in Midhurst in the first phase. If the second phase proceeds that would present an 800% increase in the number of homes. As far as the neighborhood designs on these tiny lots, they are quite good and it they were situated in the annexed lands in Barrie, they make perfect sense and would complement the similarly designed developments you find in Barrie. None of the plans presented complement any of the existing community designs in Midhurst today or any other area of Springwater.

The big disappointment is that our council passed a resolution to simply address a few nuances such as wider streets, some wider lots, room for snow storage and other matters of this nature and forward the comments to the OMB as the landowners and developers have bypassed the normal township controlled planning process. No one on council said that the entire rezoning application is unsuitable and contrary to the existing character of Midhurst or Springwater. The motion passed unanimously.

The atrocity of the Midhurst Secondary Plan and the Mega City developments can be stopped or greatly curtailed but you must get involved. If you don’t engage then you must be prepared to accept the consequences, which is simply the destruction of a unique community that has survived for over 150 years. Call your councillors and ask them to at least take a strong position at the OMB hearings on the rezoning matter. Currently it appears that aside for the minor nuances, they plan to take a passive role and not protect the distinct character of our existing communities.

To show how forthright our elected officials are, I emailed a variety of questions to Collins, Hanna and McConkey that sit on the Environmental Assessment Committee for the Mega Development. This was prompted by Deputy Mayor McLean’s comment in his recent letter to the editor that our elected officials are ensuring that everything will be environmentally protected with the Midhurst Mega Developments Plans for water and sewage treatment.

I received this response from Councillor Hanna “I provide the following in response to your questions. I am not responding on behalf of the E. A. Committee or Council. I can confirm that there have been two meetings of the E. A. Committee. I cannot provide the minutes. You may wish to check the Twp web site.

I will ensure that the rest of your questions are advanced at our next E A or liaison committee meeting and seek an appropriate response”.

From McConkey, the response was “ We have had 2 meetings. I want to respect the Mayor and her message in keeping with the protocol of communication from these meetings. I understand from her response that she will be referring your questions to the next meeting for a response”.

I received this response from Mayor Collins, “In keeping with the protocol of communication from these meetings, I thank you for your questions and will refer them to the next EA meeting for response.”. For those that attend the planning and council meetings this is a normal response from the Mayor on any subject. She must be a mushroom grower as she is great at keeping you in the dark and covering you with manure. My questions were not exactly threatening since the first two asked about how many meetings had been held and if there were minutes published. Hanna and McConkey at least answered some of them.

It is important to study the candidates for the Municipal Election in the Fall and find out who is running. Unfortunately, the current council is being coy and have not filed their nomination papers and will probably wait until the last minute hoping that the OMB will make a decision on Midhurst so they don’t have to deal with it. In my eyes that is cowardice. You have seen recent articles from two of our elected officials and both conveniently blame someone else. That might work in government jobs but never seems to work in the real world. It is time to remind them that we do live in the real world and not some parallel universe.

It’s your choice!

Bill French is a candidate for mayor of Springwater Township. Link to his blog. 

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Mayor Bill French
Grenfel

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