Springwater Township council responds to Springwater Provincial Park being closed

Co-operation, transparency and respect are reciprocal characteristics of mature relationships in life. And provincial politics.

MARK WANZEL PHOTO

Sending a Message to Misbehaving Locals: When local politicians and their staff go to war with the province on one issue (growth), you can expect some serious push back. This may be the first and it’s likely not the last message being sent from Queen’s Park. Mayor Collins may “win” the Midhurst Secondary Plan battle, but the township will lose the economic war.

In the Barrie Examiner, Ian McInroy quotes Mayor Linda Collins reports in an article Township mayor says she’ll watchful eye on what happensWord pdf

“We were surprised with the announcement issued by the Ministry of Natural Resources and disappointed that we were not notified in advance,” Collins said. “The details of their intention to change the status from an operating park to a non-operating park have not been fully explained to us.”

Changes to the park are part of the MNR’s efforts to streamline its operations at 10 parks across the province. The other nine parks are in northern Ontario.

The park’s popular wildlife compound — which holds orphaned, injured or imprinted animals that couldn’t be released back into the wilderness and have been cared for by the Ministry of Natural Resources over the years — will be removed.

It is the only one of its kind in a provincial park.

This response is problematic in my mind in five ways:

  1. I agree, it is not very nice to be blindsided and the vast majority of Midhurst residents and I know the feeling.  We were shocked, flabbergasted and then furious that the Collins township administration was going to expand village’s population by 8 to 10 times via the Midhurst Secondary Plan. We learned that first last November and since then, have had all our  concerns flatly ignored. A simple change in the township’s official plan could have stopped this recklessness immediately. But no: as former Mayor Tony Guergis said at the meeting at the Midhurst Community Hall, “it’s a Done Deal”.
  2. Does Mayor Collins think she and the County of Simcoe have endeared themselves to the senior level of government by fighting them legally at the Ontario Municipal Board about the Midhurst Secondary Plan? Why would the province care what Springwater township and the County of Simcoe thinks if they flagrantly disregard the province’s planning vision called Places to GrowWhen you pick a fight with your boss, who normally wins?
  3. It has been my experience that being in a lawsuit lessens the spirit of co-operation between parties. Why would Mayor Collins fail to understand that the province would, will not directly retaliate, certainly send a signal that in relation to other more co-operative areas in the province, Why should they care anything about her or her constituents? In the end, voters get the quality of municipal leadership they demand.
  4. When you pick a legal fight with your government “head office”, you can expect to pay the political and economic cost for bloody-minded arrogance. Closing Springwater Park may be only the first bad news item. How about moving the Ministry of Natural Resources District Office? The Ontario Fire Marshall’s Office? I bet Angus would welcome that economic development with open arms. Does the township and county think other counties and municipalities aren’t watching this breach of provincial planning authority? Do they really think the province will allow a precedent of this growth lunacy by other emboldened but short-sighted local politicians and planners?
  5. Mayor Collins and other township officials have been very active in opposing any public hearings on the revised County of Simcoe official plan. Why criticize the province for unilateral, behind-closed-door decisions when you do exactly the same thing when you’re not forced to by provincial statute? Please practice what you preach and doing more than the legal minimum oftentimes builds goodwill within a community.

As usual, the comments are often an important part of a newspaper article.

1. Mister_Sausage
How about actually make some noise about this? Oh good. She’s going to sit and watch and see what unfolds. That’ll help. She should be livid…like the rest of us are.

2. gonnasayit
Agreed, a “watchful eye” won’t do a damn thing. Time for the residents of Springwater and surrounding area to make some noise! This is a park enjoyed by thousands for generations. We can’t just let it disappear!

3. Sam Singer
Thank god Barrie doesn’t own it. We’d see acres of Pratt Homes.

4. Richlea
Terrific. They hadn’t even told the mayor yet, so how is she to keep a “watchful eye” on things? It will play out the way the MNR wants no matter how many eyes are on them. This remains very sad for those who love this park! What do they mean “no road access”? Does this mean you would have to park on hwy 26 and walk into the park?

5. Sam Singer
So what is everyone going to do to save it? Write your MP. It does work.

6. Helpfulhippy
Hey Collins. Your watchful eye and $1.80 will get you a large coffee at Horton’s.

Originally published on iLoveMidhurst.ca on October 5, 2012.

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