Thursday, February 25, 2010

Development-But at what cost?

The more I read about residential development, I find it interesting that most of the potential development land in Springwater Township is held by a few speculators under different corporate holding company names. At Council and Planning meetings it sounds like the council feels obliged to respond to their bullying tactics and grant them development rights. Many of the designated residential growth areas are not yet zoned for development and most are still agriculture. There is no rush to build on these designated lands. In the Midhurst area most land designated for future expansion is actually prime agricultural land.
I for one, am not for fast and large residential development as it is not complimentary to the rural nature of Springwater. Large developers have their place in the world and work very well in larger urban centres like Barrie for example. The size of their developments in the 2,000 plus homes would not be unusual and would bring little attention as they would be in keeping with other developments in the area. As a comparison a 2,000 home development would mean about 5,000 extra residents in Barrie or a growth of less than 3%. If you take that same development size and place it in Springwater that would be a 30% increase in population. There are two developments of that size planned for Midhurst by one developer. That to me is uncontrolled growth that the township is not capable of properly controlling or servicing. I prefer the orderly development of the smaller developers and builders that has occurred in Elmvale, Anten Mills, Phelpston, Snow Valley and Minesing. The developments to date in the Midhurst and Hillsdale area have also been orderly, but that could change dramatically if some mega projects proceed.
It appears that both developers and council at times pick and choose their particular take on provincial policies. The one thing that is ignored is more jobs closer to home. The idea of compact accessible communities as dictated by the province attempts to reduce the dependence on the automobile. That means there must be more jobs closer to residential development. The intent of the province was not to create more bedroom communities. I was intrigued to read the agenda for the Feb 25th Springwater Planning Committee meeting where one developer is attempting to re-designate land from Employment to Commercial some distance from the residential clusters of Snow Valley or Midhurst. I am sure it simple economics. It is tough to find a job creating Manufacturing or Service enterprise, but probably easy to find another tenant for a strip retail plaza. The agenda says the request is from Geranium through its various land holding companies. I was pleased to see that planning has recommended no action on this request.
Don’t get me wrong, I believe in progress and growth but at a reasonable and cautionary pace. I know we can’t stand still and I would be the last to suggest such a thing. I plead with residents to get involved, talk to your councillors and come to the planning meetings. Without your input the councillors at times feel they have no alternative but to give into the pressure of these large corporations that do not understand or care about the rural nature and character of Springwater Township. We are the stakeholders of this Township. If we do not express our views, we will get what we deserve, unbridled and poor development. We are at that precipice in development in Springwater. In the end, if we fail to engage, we will be paying higher taxes for infrastructure long after these opportunists have went on to pillage the next small municipality