Sigh of relief: the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing has appealed the Midhurst Secondary Plan to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB). That means no citizen group needs to.
The Province’s appeal demonstrates the government’s commitment to curbing sprawl, defending the Places to Grow Growth Plan, and protecting prime agricultural land.
We were very concerned that the Province would miss the OMB appeal deadline and let this huge Simcoe County sprawl project slip though (government staffers haven’t even settled into their new offices after the recent election, after all). Simcoe County has long been known as the “Wild West” of Ontario development, and the last thing it needs is yet more ill-planned tract housing.
If it had not been appealed, and the Midhurst Secondary Plan allowed to proceed, it would have critically damaged the integrity of the sprawl-fighting Growth Plan. Consider the numbers: the Midhurst Plan would add about 10,000 dwelling units or 27,000 residents
. In 2008, the Midhurst population
was just 3,500 people. The Province’s population allocation
for all of Springwater Township to 2031 is 24,000 people and 5,600 jobs. Despite being wildly out of whack with the Growth Plan’s population allocation, Simcoe County approved the Midhurst Secondary Plan on October 12th.
Barrie has reportedly filed
for participant status at the OMB, but it is the Province’s appeal and party status that means the Midhurst Secondary Plan will be reviewed at the OMB. It is very unlikely the enormous sprawl proposal north of Barrie can proceed in the face of such opposition.
In a climate where opponents are scared to fight developers, it was particularly important for the Province to step in. A Springwater community activist has been told that Midhurst residents are afraid to take their case to the OMB because of the experience of Innisfil residents who challenged the Geranium Corporation, one of four major companies involved in the Midhurst developers' group, and the developer of the Big Bay Point mega-marina resort.
Geranium and its lawyers are well known in Simcoe County as the corporation that sued residents who opposed the resort development and their lawyers at Big Bay Point for nearly $100 million in lawsuits.