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NO: Springwater’s answer to developers’ requests for extra population allocations

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Jan 28th, 2016
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Midhurst

Midhurst

By Kate Harries AWARE News Network

Springwater Council responded unanimously last week to developer requests that councillors support extra population allocations totaling 7,536 people in Midhurst.

The answer was No.

In the resolution that was passed by a 7-0 vote, council states “it would not be in the public interest to further accelerate development approvals in Springwater solely on account of a discretionary County allocation program.”

The allocations are part of a bonus 20,000 people over and above what is set out in the Greater Golden Horseshoe Growth Plan that then infrastructure minister Bob Chiarelli gave Simcoe County in 2012.

In his column in the Springwater News, Deputy Mayor Don Allen explains that previous councils approved 6,460 units, plus 800 adult community units, which already add up to more than is necessary to fulfill the province’s Growth Plan forecast for the township of 24,000 people by 2031.

(Note: the population figures in the Growth Plan are predictions of what might happen, not targets to be met.)

“Council received numerous communications from residents clearly expressing that there is already too much planned growth for Springwater in certain areas,” Allen writes.

Developers first came forward asking for township council’s support (the decision rests with Simcoe County Council) in December 2015.

Councillors received a further letter from lawyer Susan Rosenthal of the firm Davies Howe, representing Midhurst Development Doran Road Inc. on January 20, the day of their meeting to consider the matter.

“A blanket prohibition on allocation of the available population to settlement areas, including Midhurst, is unwarranted,” Rosenthal wrote. “Such a prohibition would prevent any application for population within the Township from being considered on its merits, and would amount to a fettering of Council’s discretion under the Planning Act and the policies of the County’s Official Plan.”

Rosenthal also submitted a planning consultant’s report opining that “the Subject Lands are a prime candidate for an allocation of 5,500 of the 20,000 population available to Simcoe County under policy 6.3.2.2 of the Growth Plan.”

“We do not accept that this (resolution) amounts to a fettering of Council’s discretion in any way,” Mayor Bill French responds in a January 28 letter to Rosenthal, referring her to the resolution for the policy basis for council’s decision.

It states that “Springwater’s resources have already been strained to the limit and beyond in terms of the need to accommodate residential developments in Springwater which have already received draft plan approval, most of which are on lands within Midhurst.”

Full text of resolution

The January 20 2016 resolution, moved by Councillor Jack Hanna and seconded by Councillor Perry Ritchie reads as follows:

1. Whereas Policies 6.3.2.2 and 6.3.2.3 of the Provincial Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe (“Growth Plan”) give the County of Simcoe the discretion to allocate up to 20,000 total population for lands within its area municipalities, in excess of what is required to accommodate the 2031 population forecasts for the County and its area municipalities in Schedule 7 of the Growth Plan, until January 19, 2017; and

2. Whereas through amendments to the new County Official Plan (“County OP”) which were approved by the Ontario Municipal Board in 2015 as sections 3.5.10 and 3.5.11, the County has implemented a policy framework to implement the discretionary population program intended by Policies 6.3.2.2 and 6.3.2.3 of the Growth Plan; and

3. Whereas Section 3.5.11 of the County OP directs that in evaluating applications for population allocation under the program, the County will consider, among other criteria, “(11) if the application contains a Council resolution from the local municipality to have an adopted official plan or official plan amendment considered for this program”; and

4. Whereas to date, a total of five (5) applications for population allocation have been made to the County in respect of lands within Springwater, all of which are situated within the Settlement Area of Midhurst. Collectively, the 5 applications seek allocations for total population of 7,536 persons; and

5. Whereas Township Staff have prepared a Planning Staff Report which addresses the aforesaid applications and identifies several options which are available to Council in considering its position and responding to the County pursuant to section 3.5.11 of the County OP, and the Township has also engaged in a process of extensive public consultation for that purpose; and

6. Whereas Council has considered the fact that to date, already has Official Plan and/or draft plan of subdivision approvals for a total of 6,460 units, plus an’ additional 800 adult community units, all of which are already in excess of what is required to accommodate Springwater‘s 2031 population forecasts under Schedule 7 of the Growth Plan. Collectively, these approved lands when fully developed would accommodate a total population of approximately 38,000 persons, without the need for any recourse to the County’s 20,000 allocation program; and

7. Whereas Council has also considered the fact that of the 6,460 units in excess of Springwater‘s Schedule 7 forecasts which already have Official Plan and/or draft plan of subdivision approvals, approximately 600-700 unitscould be development- reacly within a 5-year time horizon, depending on market conditions; and

8. Whereas Council has also considered the fact that Springwater’s population to employment ratio is currently well above the 2031 forecasts in Schedule 7 of the Growth Plan, and the allocation of additional population under the County’s discretionary program would only take that ratio further in the wrong direction; and

9. Whereas Council has further considered the fact that Springwater’s resources have already been strained to the limit and beyond in terms of the need to accommodate residential developments in Springwater which have already received draft plan approval, most of which are on lands within Midhurst; and

10. Whereas based on the foregoing considerations and others, Council has determined that it would not be in the public interest to further accelerate development approvals in Springwater solely on account of a discretionary County allocation program which expires in one year‘s time in any event;

Now Therefore Be It Resolved:

1. That the Report from the Manager of Planning regarding Township 20,000 Population Allocation Options Report, dated April 20, 2015, revised November 30, 2015 and County of Simcoe Population Allocation Program — Council Direction Options Report dated January 20, 2015, be received; and

2. That the Council of the Township of Springwater does not support any private requests submitted under Sections 3.5.10 and 3.5.11 of the County Official Plan for additional population allocation on a Township-wide basis.

Link to Feb. 3 agenda with developer’s letter and township’s reply (item 10.5)

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