Midhurst, a nearly-200 year old village just north of Barrie, finds itself in a real estate powder keg.
Midhurst has been a favoured spot to live for several thousands of years. There are 54 documented first nations’ settlement sites within south Springwater Township.
The Midhurst Secondary Plan, MSP, calls for the irreversible, greenfield growth of 10,000 new homes and 28,000 people (currently 1,100 homes, and 3,500 people), the loss of up to 1,300 acres of farmland, and 6 million gallons of wastewater going into Minesing Swamp per day. These changes can happen as quickly or slowly as the developer wants.
The Township of Springwater (www.Springwater.ca
) approved the MSP in fall 2008 and the County of Simcoe did the same in November 2011. The province has appealed it to the Ontario Municipal Board with a pre-hearing likely in April. The Ontario Ministry of Infrastructure January 19th
meeting in Alliston may signal a regrettable return to Simcoe County’s business as usual pro-sprawl ways.
Seven community issues:
1. Stealth mode: Most Midhurst residents only became aware of the magnitude of growth on November 28, 2011 when 200 very upset people crammed into the Midhurst Community Centre. Two months later, more than 650 people (1/3 of all village residents) showed up to a petition blitz calling for the township and county to tear up the MSP. People knew there were growth plans afoot but this type of disclosure was withheld: BTW this plan calls for your community to grow by 10 times.
2. Public non-notice: The ads were placed a Barrie bi-weekly coupon paper and not in the Midhurst Newsletter or Springwater News. Only landowners who had more than two hectares were notified ever by mail although every taxpayer receives their assessment in the mail. In June 2008 the township “determined that a population forecast will not be mentioned in the notice”.
3. Wastewater worries
: The Minesing Swamp
is an internationally recognized wetland. Some of our advisors have major reservations about Willow Creek and the Nottawasaga River watershed being able to handle the discharge the plan calls for: 28,081,000 litres per day.
4. Taxes: Sprawl is increasingly being recognized as resulting in higher taxes after the honeymoon of development charges passes. Creating the “City of Midhurst” would radically alter the political landscape.
5. Farmland loss: We have 540 hectares of farmland that’s been quietly producing food for cities for over 150 years. We don`t want to lose it.
6. Who works for whom? The current and former mayor has told residents since 2008 that “there was nothing to do” that the MSP is a “done deal”. However, as late as this Monday at the Springwater Planning committee meeting, Director of Planning & Public Works Brad Sokach was still “working out the bugs” with the Ministry of Environment and the Nottawasaga River Conservation Authority about the 6 million gallon wastewater issue.
Since 1819, Midhurst has welcomed responsible newcomers and sent speculators, grifters and bullies packing.
Guest Blogger Les Stewart MBA, BA and his family have been in Midhurst for the last 51 years. He is a social media consultant and can be reached through: www. iLoveMidhurst.ca or www.MidhurstSchoolDays.ca.