About 100 people showed up to participate in the first of many public information sessions for the County of Simcoe’s first-ever municipal comprehensive review on Tuesday afternoon.
While preliminary numbers for each municipality have now been released as part of the growth and land-use-planning part of the review, some more outspoken attendees questioned those numbers.
“One of the difficulties of doing planning in Simcoe (County) is it’s very large, very diverse and there are a lot of plans for development,” said Stefan Krzeczunowicz, a planner with Hemson Consulting. “The county has received more than 80 requests to expand settlement area boundaries to accommodate new development. That represents about 6,500 new hectares of new settlement area.”
“Much of the growth pressure is in the southern part of the county, while much of the vacant land is actually north of Barrie,” he said.
Krezeczunowicz said the pressure in the south can’t be satisfied by developing in the north. As such, Hemson determined that for the purposes of the MCR, the county will be treated as two regions – north and south.
The review is a planning exercise where the County of Simcoe will meet with all upper and lower-tier municipalities that are subject to Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe. As Official Plans must conform to the provincial policy, the growth plan requires that certain elements of that have to come through a municipal comprehensive review.
While the province has provided the overall growth targets to the county, the county will now be charged with distributing and allocating those targets in specific areas.
Preliminary information provided by the province to the County of Simcoe identifies five primary settlement areas that are poised to handle most of the local growth that will come by 2051: Alliston, Bradford West Gwillimbury, Alcona, Collingwood and Penetanguishene/Midland. Barrie and Orillia are also identified as primary settlement areas, however they are undertaking their own MCR process separate from the County of Simcoe.
Between now and 2051, the Province of Ontario is estimating that Simcoe County’s population (excluding Barrie and Orillia), will balloon from about 357,000 currently to 555,000 total people.
With the influx of new residents, the province is estimating 198,000 jobs will exist here, up from 117,000 currently.
Questions posed by the public during Tuesday’s first sessions regarding growth covered concerns about infrastructure, climate change, and transit.
Claire Malcolmson of the Rescue Lake Simcoe Coalition provided comments on environmental and infrastructure concerns.
“The water issue is not about timing,” said Malcolmson. “Climate change is a major factor... it’s making our water quality worse. The assumption that is being made that our receiving bodies of water are going to be able to handle more sewage in 20 years is completely insane.”
“You have to consider servicing immediately,” she said.
The deadline for feedback on the municipal comprehensive review is Nov. 12. More public information sessions are slated for Oct. 18 and 19.
For more information on how you can get involved and provide feedback, click here.