• Protecting Water and Farmland in Simcoe County

‘Betrayal!’ County reverses decision, makes deal with Midhurst developers

In Agriculture
Sep 29th, 2016
Warden Gerry Marshall

AWARE Simcoe news release

Simcoe County has thumbed its nose at the people of Springwater and made a mockery of democracy with its behind-closed-doors deal to grant a population allocation to the Midhurst developers’ group.

The decision, announced today, is a reversal of the position the county took at its May 24, 2016 meeting when it challenged the developers’ view that they were owed the ‘bonus’ population allocations granted to Simcoe County in 2012 by then infrastructure minister Bob Chiarelli.

“The County has done an end-run on democracy,” said AWARE Simcoe chair Don Morgan.

Here’s how:

– Instead of making a decision in open council where the words and the vote of each councillor would be available for scrutiny, Simcoe County has made a behind-closed-doors deal withe developers.

– The electors of Springwater made their views known at the last election. They want to remain a small rural municipality. The township council was unanimous in January in rejecting any bonus allocations for Midhurst.

– The County, the Province, the Township and the Midhurst Ratepayers’ Association lined up before the Ontario Municipal Board in July to reject the developers’ claim that the OMB had jurisdiction on whether the County allows or denies the bonus Chiarelli allocations.

– Simcoe County has developed a curious process whereby the mayor and deputy mayor from an affected municipality are required to declare a conflict of interest when an issue goes to a tribunal. This happened first with Beeton Woods, and now with Midhurst. It disenfranchises the voters from the affected municipality who expect their representatives to represent them at the county level.

“The township feels a profound sense of betrayal by the County,” Springwater Mayor Bill French said in a news release.

“Who is reaping the benefits?” Morgan asked. “Certainly not the people of Springwater whose views have been clearly expressed, certainly not our future generations, to whom we owe a duty of care by preserving the prime agricultural land that will be paved over if this plan proceeds.”

Morgan noted that Simcoe County cites the need to avoid a protracted legal process as a reason for giving in to the developers.

“We at AWARE reject the politics of expediency that we last experienced under the wardenship of Tony Guergis,” Morgan said. “Now we see this familiar scenario playing out under Warden Gerry Marshall. The County took a principled position. But it did not have the fortitude to hold true. This is very disappointing.”

Morgan added that the decision making process being adopted by Simcoe County is a warning to residents across the county. “Your representatives can be excluded from critical decisions affecting your municipality. This is wrong.”

OMB hearing October 7 2016 

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