Springwater Township – a chance for a change
Letter from David Strachan, Midhurst to Sringwater News
A happy time for us all! Once every four years, we get to chose our next councillors. October 2014 is our opportunity. Should we re-elect the same team, make some changes, or perhaps vote for an entirely new team? What do you think?
Springwater always seems to have major issues. Last time it was a reaction against county decisions made in favour of Site 41. This time it seems to be the Midhurst Secondary Plan (MSP).
On the face of it, Site 41 seemed to be a very local issue. It wasn’t even in Springwater. But when it became known that the plan was to build a garbage dump over one of the world’s purest aquifers, the public took a keen interest in who was letting this happen. (As a result of public outcry, Site 41 was cancelled).
Midhurst is on the southern tip of Springwater, so why would the rest of the Township care about a plan to add 5,000 houses to the village now, and another 5,000 later? Whether it’s the fact that the new homes would tap into the same aquifer, or concern over treated effluent going into the Minesing wetlands and Nottawasaga River, or maybe just worry over increased taxes, there is growing interest in this mega scheme.
So let’s take a look at who’s running and what they say they stand for.
Linda Collins, Mayor – FOR the MSP
Tony Guergis, mayoral candidate – Was mayor when the MSP was adopted by the Township.
Bill French, mayoral candidate – AGAINST the MSP
Dan McClean, Deputy Mayor – FOR the MSP
Les Stewart, deputy mayor candidate – AGAINST the MSP
Dan Clement, Ward 1 – Not running (was for MSP)
Katy Austin, candidate – AGAINST the MSP
Perry Ritchie, Ward 2 – AGAINST the MSP
Rick Webster, Ward 3 – FOR the MSP
Connie Spek, candidate – AGAINST the MSP
Jack Hanna, Ward 5 – AGAINST the MSP
It is not yet clear what position the other candidates will take.
Some councillors say that the MSP is a done deal and that cancelation will result in a $100 million law suite. For what? Land Use planning in Ontario is regulated by the Provincial Policy Statement and the Places to Grow Act. Both protect farmland and water and both WERE IN PLACE WHEN THE DEVELOPERS BOUGHT THE LAND. Developers gambled on convincing governments to let them build anyway. Also, according to Farm Credit Canada, farmland (for farm use) has increased in value by 12% per year since 2008. That’s a multi-million dollar gain, so what would be the arguments be for suing the Township or Province?
Some councillors are saying that the MSP was forced on Springwater by the Province. This too is a misleading argument. In 2006 the IGAP studies showed that, in Simcoe County, there was already enough land pre-approved for development to satisfy provincial needs through 2031. Also in 2011, the province appealed the MSP to the OMB for failure to comply with provincial or county regulations. It was only after repeated lobbying from developers and the mayor, that the province created a “Special Rule” to permit the first half of the development.
Ministerial Orders can be rescinded, but it is hard for the province to do this when the Township is in favour of it. This is why the election is so important and why we can take relief in knowing that the ball has finally passed back into the hands of the people. Collectively we should know what is best for Springwater.
It’s election time and we can smile again.