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Springwater Shocked and Dismayed by County of Simcoe's About-Face Decision to Approve Further Population for Lands in Midhurst

Springwater Shocked and Dismayed by County of Simcoe's About-Face Decision to Approve Further Population for Lands in Midhurst
Posted on 09/29/2016

Springwater / September 29, 2016 – The Township of Springwater is shocked and dismayed at the surprise announcement by the County of Simcoe that it “has reached an agreement with representatives from the Midhurst developer group for a resolution of the 20,000 Population Allocation program” under the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe.

The lands in Midhurst which are the subject of the surprise agreement between the County and the developers were the subject of hearings held before County Council in May 2016. At that time, after considering extensive evidence and submissions from the developers and from the Township, County Council voted to refuse all of the requests for additional population allocation in Midhurst except for a 5 lot severance consisting of 15 persons. Instead, County Council accepted the Township’s position – expressed through a unanimous resolution by Township Council - that it was appropriate to “press the pause button” on further population allocation in Midhurst beyond the approximately 4,600 units already approved by a previous Township Council, until the Township had an opportunity to complete its comprehensive Official Plan and growth management strategy review which are currently underway. The current Township Official Plan dates from 1998 and the Township’s last comprehensive growth management review was done in 2004, prior to the Growth Plan.

Following the refusal decisions by County Council, the County brought a motion before the Ontario Municipal Board, asking the OMB to determine that it has no jurisdiction to approve further population allocation given the final decisions made by County Council. The County was supported on its motion by the Township, the Provincial Ministry of Municipal Affairs and the Midhurst Ratepayers’ Association. The outcome of that motion would determine whether the OMB could proceed with a hearing scheduled for October 2016 respecting the Province’s appeal of the Midhurst Secondary Plan. The Province filed its appeal on the basis that there was no population allocation available for the level of growth contemplated for Midhurst in the Secondary Plan, which was adopted by a previous Township Council back in 2010.

The OMB has not yet made a decision on the County’s motion, but it ordered that the October hearing should proceed in any event.

“We are shocked and dismayed at the County’s unilateral decision to settle with the Midhurst developers”, said Springwater Mayor Bill French. “Based on the decisions made by County Council back in May 2016 to refuse further allocations for Midhurst – decisions that both the County and the Township understood to be final – we fully expected the County would continue to support the Township on this issue of vital importance to the Township’s ability to direct its own future. We certainly never expected the County would turn its back on the Township and make a deal with the developers behind closed doors and force additional population on the Township well in excess of its Growth Plan numbers, without even consulting the Township or giving us any opportunity to comment on the deal.”

“Frankly, the Township feels a profound sense of betrayal by the County”, said Mayor French.

The County’s decision throws into doubt how events will unfold at the upcoming OMB hearing which is currently scheduled to start on Wednesday, October 5th at 10:30 am at the Township Administrative Centre in Minesing.

View the County of Simcoe's media release regarding County Council's decision online here.