Sunday, December 22, 2013

My View - Part 5- Springwater Township’s Response to Questions regarding the Mega Developments of the Midhurst Secondary Plan

On May 17th of this year the township held an information meeting and provided documents as an overview for the Midhurst Secondary Plan titled Midhurst 20/20. There was also a public open house on the Midhurst Secondary Plan EA process on May 29th.

In September the township published its response to the questions posed and held a special council meeting on September 17th with a hired lawyer to outline the township’s position. This is the fifth installment of articles on this complex issue. I encourage you to read the document yourself (found on the township website under Governance/Public Consultation/Midhurst Secondary Plan) and form your own opinion. Certain questions and answers are truncated for space consideration.

Question 38: Will the new municipal wells impact existing private wells?

Township Answer: No. Extensive testing in accordance with Provincial regulations was completed. The testing did not identify any areas where existing wells will be impacted. They then refer to the Phase 1 and 2 EA.

My Opinion: In theory there may not be an impact as I understand there is high rate of flow in this particular aquifer. However any shallow wells that exist today may be impacted in a drought period because of the significant amount of water that will be withdrawn from the lower aquifer. Typically one aquifer is not significantly impacted by another but until the operation commences we are dealing with modelling scenarios which may or may not be accurate.

Question 39: What will the increase in flow attributable to the MSP be in Willow Creek?

Township Answer: The township provided some flow rates. In the EA 1 and 2 the average flow rate of 270L/s is noted. A further 3 years analysis estimates it at 400L/s. They state the flow from the wastewater treatment plant at buildout will be 140L/s. They also include a peak flow rate of 7,000L/s

My Opinion: All the data is interesting. Unfortunately no one seems to note that the Minesing Wetlands are being negatively effected in the last 25 years because of additional flows and build-up. The Steelheaders conservation group has great data as does Nancy Chong that was provided to the township. None of this has been considered nor has it been mentioned that both the NVCA and MOE have expressed concerns about dumping this much effluent into that small stream of Willow Creek. By the township’s own numbers the average flow based on the 270 L/s would be a 60% increase in per second flow and even using the higher numbers of 400 L/s it means a 30% increase. What happens if we find that we are already at 120% of the Willows capacity for flow? None of these questions have been addressed and the potential for ecological disaster cannot be overstated.

Question 52: What efforts will be made to mitigate the impact on local agricultural operations as mandated in the Provincial Policy Statement?

Township Answer: The PPS does not apply to Midhurst as it is not an expansion of the existing settlement boundary.

My Opinion: We are not all stupid or idiots, is the short answer, if you think we will swallow that answer. Think about it. (Sorry to reuse these two sentences from the last article.) First of all the PPS applies to all development from 2005 onwards. The MSP was not approved by council until 2008 and after 3 letters of expressing non-compliance the County approved the plan in 2011. The council has totally ignored the serious impact that the MSP will have on the Ag industry and has specifically ignored concerns expressed by the OFA and local farmers such as Rob Wright.

Question 55: Shouldn’t the MSP development plan be delayed until a major employer such as a Honda settles in the community?

Township Answer: The MSP has been approved by the Township, County and Province. Therefore it is permitted to proceed.

My Opinion: Not exactly an answer from the township. Part of the answer is also wrong as only the first 300 hectares have been approved to proceed in the MSP. Barrie for example require developers, in certain areas of development, to illustrate that there are actual jobs not just land for future jobs before development will be approved. Of course we should include in all our development plans that jobs come first before building shoe boxes for people to hibernate. Currently 90% of our non-farm workers leave everyday for work. I understand that no significant job creation has occurred even though we have allocated many dollars to the effort in the last two years. Attaching actual job creation to approving residential development is not unique unless you are in a township like Springwater where most of the council thinks the developers know what’s best for all of us.

I will repeat, it is still not too late to slow down and modify this terrible plan for Midhurst. It will affect all of us especially where it hurts, in our pocket books with increased taxes. I am pleased that many more people are coming to Council and Planning meetings in recent months as residents realize that regardless of where they live they will pay the price of the bad decisions and direction of the Midhurst Secondary Plan. In January I encourage as many people as possible to file nomination papers and run for an elected office and bring about the change we need. I will write one more article on the Township’s response to the concerns of the Springwater Residents about the MSP and ask you to become informed by reading the information on the Springwater website.

Talk to the Mayor, Deputy Mayor and Council and tell them to stop the greatest calamity that Springwater has ever experienced. The Midhurst Plan as planned is a disaster waiting to happen and you and I cannot afford it!