• Protecting Water and Farmland in Simcoe County

If council had objected, there would be no MSP

In Agriculture
Aug 14th, 2014

My view – I am pleased that Deputy Mayor McLean submitted his Letter to Editor in the July 31st edition of Springwater News. You need to have that handy to make sense of this article. Link to McLean letter. A few people phoned me and asked if his letter angered me because of his strong criticisms of my opinions. My answer was “no”. I said that it is important that people see how he thinks which is a good thing. I also believe everyone is entitled to their opinion and point of view.

For those trying to figure out who should lead our council for the next 4 years, you now have a view from the second in command on council, the Deputy Mayor. You have also seen articles from the Mayor in recent months. For balance, and since his name is mentioned in the McLean article, check out Les Stewart who has filed his papers to run as your next deputy mayor. As McLean states, be informed with facts and not swayed by the rhetoric.

McLean’s initial information on the MSP approval is correct. It was done with a special rule by the province. He ignores the fact that the Township and County did not object to the mega development in Midhurst even though the plan offended all good planning principles. Some say and believe that it was out of the township’s control. I believe if the Council had objected to the plan, there would have been no special rule nor mega development, as the Midhurst Secondary Plan is contrary to all the higher level provincial policies including the County’s OP.

The only scaremongering I see is from McLean when he mentions the $100,000,000 potential lawsuit, if the Midhurst Mega City was stopped. First of all the $100,000,000 that came from the township lawyer was based on the value of the infrastructure investment to serve the potential future 30,000 additional residents. Unlike the Gas Plant debacle that McLean refers to, which was well underway when terminated, the zoning, which is the subject of an OMB appeal, has still not been approved for the Midhurst developments and no construction has been done.

No money has been put in the ground as I write this letter, but there are efforts behind the scenes trying to fast track it before the Oct 27th election.  Is there a chance of a lawsuit if the MSP was cancelled? I would say yes as lawsuits seem to be the norm of today. However, the developers speculated on land they bought after the provincial policies were in place. The developers took a calculated risk, lobbied elected officials at all levels and are hoping for a win. This is quite legal and I would expect nothing less from a corporation attempting to reward its shareholders. I have no complaints about the integrity of the developers or landowners. They are trying to maximize their investments. If the MSP were revisited and reduced in size is the cost of speculating and the return may not be as anticipated. This is not a criticism of the business model, it is just the way it works. Have you never speculated on something? Did you win every time? No one is against development that is reasonable, sustainable and compliments the areas where it is built which has been the history of developments in Springwater until the high density plans for Centre Vespra , the Midhurst Mega City and Hillsdale came along.

McLean’s argument that the approvals before the OMB at this time have 150 conditions that must be met is correct. I commend the township for creating a good detailed list and many good conditions are included. I fear the developers will fight each condition with the end result being that some important conditions will be compromised. Now if the Township had insisted that all conditions were met prior to a final OMB zoning approval that would be a different story. That is what was done in Anten Mills some years ago and as a result the development has not proceeded as there are still conditions that must be met and approved.

McLean’s attempt criticism of my premise that the rest of the township will suffer because of the concentration of population in the south, is an example of old style thinking. In 1994 there were no heavy concentrations of developments like we would see with the Midhurst Mega Development, so his argument is a little dated (we are now 20 years later) and illustrates his inability to see the big picture with a long term view which to me is worrisome.

His explanation of how our water and sewer charges work is also correct. He ignores the fact that since they are pooled, the unknown costs of operating a City sized water and sewage facility that has miles of lines are a real threat to those rates. He also failed to mention that 2 years into a plan to create the necessary reserves for the replacement of our existing infrastructure, the reserve was 30% underfunded according to the CFO of the day.  That is why those on full services have an annual 3 to 3.5% compounded increase in these rates for years to come. Do you think it will get better when we add a $100,000,000 facility that we have no idea what it will cost to operate?

His reference to the BMA Management Consultant Report is a little overstated. There were few municipalities in the comparison study that were the size and character of Springwater. Besides, less than a third of the Ontario Municipalities participated. Remember the township pays for the report.

I do agree with McLean’s concluding paragraph in his letter. Because of the last two councils, the next council has many challenges because of the leadership of the last 8 years. I also agree that the upcoming election is not just about the Midhurst Secondary Plan. It is about transparency and the leadership void that exists. Do your homework. If this council and especially the Mayor and Deputy Mayor did as much research as I do they probably could comment and make a more effective arguments. They definitely have more resources for information than I do. My opinions are based on fact not conjecture.

Let’s elect a council that has a vision for the entire township. Let’s finally choose a council that actually listen’s to the electorate! There will be many on the upcoming slate that will actually do that. I succeeded in business because I listened to everyone and as result had the fortune to manage some of the best companies in their respective sectors. Yes I have strong opinions and been accused of being “too opinionated” but those opinions have been formed by engaging many stakeholders not just a few that support my position.

Help me lead that vision!

It’s your choice!



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Mayor Bill French

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