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

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Very Very Very Frustrating Experience

This article is not as refined as I would like, but I felt needed to be published on this site as a cry for help.
There is no other way I can describe the County of Simcoe Waste Management Strategy information session I attended in Alliston on Monday night at the Nottawasaga Inn. The County politicians and staff continually complain that they do not seem to be able to get the message out to the taxpayers. What they seem to be missing is that the message they are sending is either unclear or to put it more bluntly unacceptable.
It becomes painfully obvious that neither the County nor Stantec truly understand waste management. When questioned, the Stantec mouthpiece stated the best approach to waste management is diversion. That is the fundamental flaw in the strategy. There was nothing outlined on any of their boards that even remotely suggested that the aim in the long term is the elimination of the necessity for waste management. It won’t happen over night, but that has to be the goal. In other words there is nothing in the plan to eliminate waste at the source, except for supporting the initiative that the province may undertake in its Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) direction and some education to encourage consumers to make better choices.
The end result of this $200,000 plus Stantec contract, which will now be in excess of $250,000 in my estimation (because of these pesky taxpayers that want to be involved in the process which was not planned), will recommend more diversion, less pickups, more user pay fees and so on. Same old stuff as we have seen for the last 20 years since the County became responsible for waste management.
The open house itself spoke loudly to the County and Stantec’s lack of environmental understanding or awareness. Do they not realize that waste management is an environmental concern as it impacts our water and air. Here are some examples of environmental ignorance. The large display boards were all mounted on foam core which is Styrofoam based (very difficult to recycle or reuse). When asked, no one could tell me if the printed material that was distributed was recycled. I would say it was not, based on the feel and finish. There were free shirts and bags handed out to the attendees. The bag was re-useable, but the expense was a waste. I assume this was advised by their $250,000 PR consulting firm. This could have been eliminated and no one would have been disappointed. The survey booklet asks whether the County itself should undertake a “green procurement” policy. Most companies including the large auto manufacturers have done this for years as part of their ISO 14000 environmental responsibility certification which was first published in 1996. How can the County suggests it’s a leader in waste when it has not even attempted it themselves.
People please get involved. The County and Stantec are attempting to fast track a plan that in my estimation may be worse than what led to Site 41. Millions of dollars again could be wasted on another 20 years of misdirection. The Strategic Plan should not be finalized until the province concludes its long term direction or we will be in the same situation as we now find ourselves with the growth plan for the County. Phone, email and write your Mayors and Deputy Mayors (they are the County Councillors and decision makers) and have the process slow down so proper vetting can take place. I know former warden Guergis would like to add a completed waste management strategy to his resume as one of his accomplishments before the next election, but an ill conceived strategy will do very little good for us the taxpayers. We will be paying long after Mr. Guergis rides into the sunset at the next election. Please threaten your local politicians with political loss if they fail to take control and truly develop a well thought out plan that the County of Simcoe can be proud of.
Please attend either the meeting Tuesday Feb 9 at the Wasaga RecPlex or the Wednesday Feb 10 meeting in Midland at the North Simcoe Sports and Recreation Centre from 4:30 to 8:00. The presentation and Q & A is at 7:00. Have your voice heard.
I was recently reminded that if we fail to participate in the democratic process we will be governed by those that do.

Monday, February 8, 2010

No Wonder People are Frustrated

I read the attached article by Stephen Ogden. (Just click on the title above and it will take you there).

It is almost unbelievable that county politicians and staff are so isolated in their thinking on waste management. It is clear that this vision written 20 years ago was an actual plan, not some spin created by a county bureaucrat through their consultant stooge. This only reinforces the importance of residents attending the information sessions on waste management that I posted recently. Please come out and support those who are truly trying to correct a travesty that is only being amplified by our county politicians and senior staff.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

We Need Your Voice on Waste Management

Do Not Miss these Meetings:

On Monday Feb 8, Tuesday Feb 9 and Wednesday Feb 10 next week, the County are hosting information sessions. It is imperative that as many people as possible engage in this exercise. For the skeptics like me, the open houses are a charade. However it will do us no good not to participate. We cannot allow the arrogance of the county bureaucrats to control the destiny and continue with their ill fated plans for waste management. Your attendance will certainly be uplifting to those people on the Waste Management Strategy Advisory committee who are working hard for a visionary and long term sustainable solution.

Please come out closer to the 7:00 p.m. time slot as that is the only time there will be an open forum for questions. The first two and half hours is window dressing where the county's stooges will try to lull you into a false sense of security. Don't buy it for a second.

The following information is lifted directly from the County website.

Seeking your input...

We all generate waste. At the County of Simcoe, it is our job to manage your solid waste. To do this in the most environmentally and fiscally responsible ways, work has begun on a waste management strategy.
The strategy process will consider options to deal with your waste including:
• Ways to further encourage waste reduction and reuse
• Ways to encourage waste diversion
• How garbage, organics and recyclables will be collected
• Options for the processing of recyclables and organics
• How waste is transferred
• How do we dispose of garbage in the future
Before we move forward, we need to discuss the many options with YOU and get YOUR input. That’s why the County of Simcoe is hosting a series of public consultation sessions to get your thoughts on how we can work together to manage your waste.
Join us at the following locations to share your perspective. For more information, please visit
Feb. 8
Nottawasaga Inn 6015 Highway 89, Crystal Ballroom
4:30PM to 8:00PM

Feb. 9
Wasaga Beach RecPlex
1724 Mosley Street, Oakview Room
Wasaga Beach
4:30PM to 8:00PM

North Simcoe Sports and Recreation Centre
527 Lens Self Boulevard, Bill Thompson Room
4:30PM to 8:00PM