Sunday, September 22, 2013

Collins, McLean, Clement, Webster and McConkey Agree: Growth Trumps the Wishes of Residents

On September 17th at a special Council Meeting, slated as an update and answers to questions of Midhurst residents, turned into a resolution to stop any consideration of this Council reversing the disastrous plans for mega development in Midhurst.

Instead of the Mayor actually responding, it was left to hired legal representation to respond to the questions that were posed to council. Some blatant misinformation was provided. I will not elaborate in this article but in a series of articles I will be publishing over the next number of months, I will dissect the answers provided and outline many misleading and erroneous statements. For example the lawyer said the Province was mandating the growth and the numbers. That is not true. The province have provided forecasts to 2031 and now 2041 for what might be needed. In fact the forecasts were intended to prevent not encourage paving over farmland. The province a number of years ago realized the growth in Simcoe County was poorly planned and they found it necessary to create a special section to control it in the Places to Grow directive. Besides, schedule 7 of the Places to Grow puts a forecast for Springwater to 2031 at 24,000. Considering we are around 18,500 it suggests we will see another 5,500 new residents in Springwater by 2031. If you check the monthly planning report agenda you will see a report that suggests today that we have enough lots and development at various approval stages exceeding that 5,500 number without Midhurst’s 12,000 to 28,000 added numbers. Unfortunately a “Special Rule” unknowingly, promoted by our heads of council and the landowners, have set aside good planning principles for the sake of unnecessary and unneeded growth.

The resolution itself to me is, on one hand ill-conceived but on the other hand allows all residents to know exactly where our elected officials stand. I congratulate councilors Hanna and Ritchie for not caving in to the intimidation of possible lawsuits both against the Council as a whole and individual councilors. I really don’t like that kind of scare tactic which I think swayed the Clement and McConkey vote in the end.

The reality at this point is that the only signed agreement in place to proceed with the Midhurst Secondary Plan and mega developments is an agreement with the landowners to pay for the Environmental Assessments at an estimated cost of $300,000. There are no written agreements for the cost of infrastructure (estimated at $100,000,000 for the first phase), only letters of position. Deputy Mayor McLean has referred to these letters as “Letters of Intent”. McLean with his many years of experience well knows letters of intent, which are always subject to reaching an agreement are only binding if signed by both parties. The letters I have seen are not letters of intent and have been provided by the landowners representative for guidance purposes. If there are any such letters of intent for the cost of infrastructure then produce them.

The Midhurst Plan can be stopped but it needs a political will and that does not exist in this council. Regardless of where you live in Springwater this Midhurst development will have long reaching negative impacts on your taxes and your way of life. Get involved as we have an out of control freight train that is heading for a very dangerous curve and no one is at the controls. If we all get on board we can slow down the process and allow the voters at the next election to make the final decision by replacing those that do not have the best interests of all Springwater Residents in mind.