Big Dan: It’s all about the money, boys.

October 9, 2014

Making money in the Lord’s service.

Forced hookups (water then sewer bills) + Privatizing public utilities + Annexation

 

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So it’s blatant open season on rural Ontario communities then?: Annexation/destruction via Midhurst Secondary Plan.

May 1, 2014

Goodbye to an independent Township of Springwater, Elmvale and the old Vespra and Flos townships. Hello to the latest Barrie land annexation because it is open season on vulnerable Ontario agricultural communities.

Annexation map 2

It’s called the Midhurst Secondary Plan but its very name is a lie.

As all the other Ontario rural municipality staff and leaders know, it’s a precedent-setting, naked shift of power from rural to urban use that makes all provincial institutional stakeholders into lapdogs.

Problems are solved at the price of independence and a rural way of life if The Regional Municipality of Barrie is formed.

Background: The Harris government amalgamated two great agricultural townships to form Springwater: Vespra in the south (Barrie to Horseshoe Valley Road) and Flos (north of Vespra to include Elmvale). These were self-sustainig and prosperous communities.

County in 1954

 

Barrie was a little village in 1812 when the Penetanguishene Road was surveyed.

Penetanguishene Road

The last significant northern Barrie annexation required a bald-faced, shocking display of raw political power by the Davis government (Barrie-Vespra Annexation Act).

I was wrong in April 2012 when I suggested a war was been declared on Midhurst:

the spoils of this war are 100% of the former Vespra and Flos lands.

Growth is inevitable. We know that better than anyone. But really: listening to the soulless, BMW-heavy OMB and their pharisees you’d be tricked into thinking agriculture is  a coarse, less sophisticated, stupid 2nd rate industry. That the “city mice” have pulled a fast one.

Premier Kathleen Wynne: please, we’re all adults here. I ask you to exercise your authority, stop the behind-closed-door OMB deals,  and keep the dialogue in the public sphere where it belongs. With our First Nations friends, we’ve been at this agri-business and community work for several thousands of years. We’ve not only built a community of communities but in some tough conditions, attracted and nurtured winners in every field: agronomy, law, engineering, medicine, service, etc. Everyone deserves to be respected, to engage in a vigorous, open exchange of ideas about the future of our communities, to know that the fight isn’t fixed.

Wouldn’t you agree, premier?


Will there be a “reform” Ward 5 (Midhurst) candidate for councillor in Springwater Township in the next municipal election on Oct 27, 2014?

December 5, 2013

History suggests that this perception is useful for the 1 per cent.

Springwater ward 5a

Relatively few people will make hundreds of millions of $ because of the presently defined and future sprawl resulting from the Midhurst Secondary Plan and annexation stays as a “Done Deal”.

  • One family stands to lose $4,000,000  if it is defeated.

If the economic/political elite act as gatekeepers primarily for their self-interest as some have written,  Does township chief magistrate history suggest the next very, very charming Midhurst councillor will be able to deliver the Necessary Illusion of the trying to defeat the Midhurst Secondary Plan?

Last 4 mayors of Springwater Township (present to 1994).

Linda Collins mayor

Linda Collins

Tony Guergis

Tony Guergis *

John Brown

John Brown *

helen coutts

Helen Coutts *

An asterick (*) means they also served as Warden at the County of Simcoe.

Source

Cross posted on  and iLoveMidhurst.ca and voteLesStewart.ca .


Is Linda Collins’s Springwater Township administration any less toxic to us than Mayor Rob Ford is to Toronto?

November 16, 2013

No: what she is doing is worse, if the first imperative of any government is its (1) continued survival as a legal entity and (2) delivering responsible government.

Rob Ford Toronto

Despite Mayor Ford’s shortcomings, no one had dreamed that he could destroy The Corporation of the City of Toronto. This is precisely what Mayor Linda Collins is doing; either intentionally or unintentionally. Destroying via bankruptcy or annexation an independent legal entity called “The Township of Springwater”.

If the current administration continues to refuse to cancel the Midhurst Secondary Plan and related sprawl which will result in the township’s death by annexation to Barrie/imminent bankruptcy, then Premier Kathleen Wynne should immediately place Springwater Township under 3rd party management as a first step toward investigating the events that have lead us to this fundamental failure of representative government.

If Mayor Collins and Deputy Mayor McLean refuse to invite the Province of Ontario to assume administrative control of Springwater Township, each councillor should resign and re-run in the next municipal election if they want to. Currently the five councillors are enabling what may prove to be a corrupted municipal institution and may be judged in the future of knowing or having reasonable grounds to know of this breach of democracy.

The five councillors should contact the Premier’s office, ask her to give them the powers to stop all development and provide testimony to an inquiry.

Cross-posted on iLoveMidhurst.ca.


Sprawl that threatens Springwater Park & Minesing Wetlands demands provincial Growth Plan enforcement.

September 12, 2013

Looking the other way will destroy south Simcoe County, the “jewel in the crown” of Ontario.

Black Creek Estates sign

A timely and extremely powerful article welds the Midhurst sprawl plan, the degradation of Willow Creek and Minesing Wetlands and the abandonment of Springwater Park issues together. Dr. John Bacher of the Preservation of Agricultural Lands Society, PALS in St. Catharines writes: Provincial Action Puts Springwater Park at Risk: Occupiers Stand Up For the Land pdf newsletter

Excerpt:

The ongoing April 1st 2013 native occupation of the 193 hectare Springwater Provincial Park in Springwater Township, Simcoe County, was a dramatic response to a Provincial down grade of this wonderful park’s status from “operational” to “non-operational”. These First Nations leaders, led by Elizabeth Brass Elson of the Beausoleil First Nation, have taken a dramatic stand which illustrates how the conservationist achievements of the past are being put at risk today. Their action presents a beacon of hope to those who care for the predominately agricultural landscape of Southern Ontario, appropriately afforested to secure ecological balance by Edmund Zavitz, the “Father of Modern Forestry”.

What the change of status for this park means, is that the gate to the park is locked and vehicles cannot enter. The magnificent picnic pavilion, which in the past was used as a showcase for the wonders of a recreational forest in a former blow sand desert, would have become the parks equivalent of a ghost town if not for the occupation. There is no longer any maintenance of the 12 kilometres of wheelchair accessible trails, 11 of which are designed to facilitate cross country skiing; garbage collection in the park has ceased; and, all the comfort stations have been closed.

One of the basic motivational reasons for the occupation has been the fate of other down graded Provincial Parks, which are now effectively unregulated and empty Crown Land, in heavily populated southern Ontario, where intensive park patrols and maintenance have been removed. In such circumstances Crown Lands have been vandalized by criminal elements such as motorcycle gangs. This can be especially damaging in a forest planted on top of re-claimed desert sand and vulnerable to being ripped up by off road vehicles. It is quite reasonable to expect that in such circumstances, situations can arise to encourage the sale of degraded park land.

Most of the 200 “non-operational parks” in Ontario are in the north, where pressures for vandalism are less severe because of the much lower population density. In this regard, it is astonishing that of the 10 provincial parks originally proposed to be closed by the Provincial government in 2012, Springwater was the only southern park that was closed and while the Province backed down on its proposal to make four northern parks “non-operational”, it refused to alter its stance in this case.

Severe Development Pressures in the Springwater Park Area
There are also severe development pressures around Springwater Provincial Park. As I noted in the Spring newsletter I viewed these quite vividly a few weeks before the park closure. Immediately across a road from the park there was a sign on a piece of private land announcing the new development of Black Creek Estate [of Snow Valley], which had also been afforested into White and Red Pine by the Provincial Government. It is 261 acres in extent, more than half the size of the provincial park. The sign indicated that the zoning was to be changed from environmental protection to residential and it is designated for 101 units, all of which is in direct violation of the Provincial Growth Plan. Development on this scale would require sewers, where there currently are none, a problem resolved through a “pre-servicing agreement.” This illustrates the concern of Midhurst Ratepayers Association which is battling sprawl in the area, for fear that development here would pollute Willow Creek and the Minesing Wetlands.

The proposal for a subdivision in a forest next to a Provincial park is just one element in the massive urban sprawl proposed in the Midhurst Secondary Plan. This threatens both the park and other areas of land afforested by the provincial government’s conservationist actions over many years and now being poorly managed as Crown Lands. The Plan proposes urban development on 1,700 acres of agricultural land, which would boost the population of the village of Midhurst from 3,500 to nearly 28,000. The Provincial Government did appeal this document to the Ontario Municipal Board, (OMB), however, it did not show up at the hearing this summer, and the Midhurst Ratepayers Association was defeated by the Township of Springwater, Simcoe County and developers.

Bacher Springwater Wilson Drive Black Creek

Mess in Midhurst Reveals Non-Enforcement of Growth Plan.
The First Nations occupation of Springwater Park and the hammer blow of the OMB against the Midhurst Ratepayers Association this summer, reveal the biggest problem with land use planning in Ontario. This is the non-enforcement of the Growth Plan, which was brought in simultaneously in 2005, when the Greenbelt was proclaimed by the Province.

The basic reason behind the Growth Plan is to prevent leap frogging beyond the areas that are supposed to be protected from sprawl by the Greenbelt. It applies to southern Niagara Waterloo Region and Simcoe County. Last month the Provincial Government brought in a slightly amended version of the Growth Plan, which drew the ire of some environmentalists and the Ontario Federation of Agriculture who felt the Plan was being diluted. However, from the viewpoint of those such as PALS, who are engaged in the struggle to protect agriculturally and environmentally zoned land from sprawl, the towering barrier to these ends, has been the nonenforcement of existing growth plan policies.

For instance, a cornerstone of the Growth Plan was supposed to be confinement of any urban expansion to the urban centre of Barrie. There was an Amendment One to the Growth Plan introduced, but this was only to provide more room for the Town of Alliston. The Province, in violation of the Growth Plan’s provisions, through the blunt instrument of a Ministerial Zoning Order, then rammed through an urban expansion in Bradford to facilitate box stores along an expressway.

As mentioned before, the Province, to its credit, did launch an appeal of the Midhurst Secondary Plan. However, in a black day for land use planning it withdrew part of its appeal to permit the construction of 5,000 new homes. As a result some 300 hectares are now eligible for urban expansion. In response, the Midhurst Ratepayers Association made an appeal to the OMB, and hired the former director of planning for Simcoe County, Ian Bender, (a former St. Catharines City planner, who PALS had often worked with ), as their expert witness.

Bender’s testimony to the OMB vividly illustrates how Midhurst’s carefully restored landscape of farmland and forests are at risk from sprawl. He indicated that until now “development has generally expanded the settlement area to its limits as defined by the adjacent highway and surrounding agricultural and environmental lands.” He also testified how the proposed boundary expansion would far exceed the allocations that the Province has established for the area under the Growth Plan.

In making its decision dismissing the Midhurst Ratepayers Association appeal the OMB did not dispute any of Bender’s conclusions regarding the violation of the Growth Plan, but threw his strong evidence out on procedural grounds.

The Midhurst fiasco shows the inherit weakness of the assumptions behind the Growth Plan. This is the folly of relying on the OMB to regulate local municipal planning in the countryside . The only way that these landscapes can be protected is through provincially developed planning as shown by the Niagara Escarpment Plan, the Oak Ridges Moraine Protection Act, and now, the Greenbelt Act. The Growth Plan’s reliance on the OMB is simply a fog under which behind- the- scenes the machinations of developers are hidden.

Bacher Springwater Black Creek Estates

The basic reason why all of the currently agriculturally and environmentally zoned lands that are supposed to be protected by the Growth Plan should be incorporated into the much stronger Greenbelt, emerged unexpectedly in 2009 comments by Victor Doyle, a planner with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, and what happened as a result. In his role commenting on proposed zoning and official plan changes under the Growth Plan, Doyle made the following comment: “South Simcoe County, long known as the ‘jewel in the crown’ is completely ill-suited for major urbanization on the Lake Simcoe and Nottawasaga Basins that are small and slow moving receiving bodies which simply cannot sustain the environmental impacts associated with what is a Greater Toronto Area scale of subdivision.” Shortly after these comments were penned Doyle was shuffled away from supervising land use planning in Simcoe County.

Dr. John Bacher is a member of the Advisory Council of the Springwater Park Citizens’ Coalition.

Cross-posted from SpringwaterParkcc.org.

Cross-posted to iLoveMidhurst.ca.


NOW Magazine Toronto picks up the Springwater Park – Camp Nibi reckless development defense story.

September 5, 2013

Will the Ontario government continue to allow Springwater Provincial Park to unthinkingly slide into sprawl?

now Bacher

An article in NOW Magazine’s News Frontlines section called John Bacher on Wild West sprawl wrecking Ontario parks will be appearing on September 5, 2013.

Excerpt:

Those who love Georgian Bay and its tributaries are getting accustomed to bizarre schemes threatening its sanctity. First there was Dump Site 41 in Simcoe County, and then the Melancthon mega-quarry – both stopped in their tracks by massive protests, marches and cook-ins.

Now there’s the Ontario government’s plan to abandon Springwater Provincial Park, 10 kilometres north of Barrie. Since April 1, women from the Beausoleil First Nation near Midland have been occupying Springwater, protesting the park’s changed status from “operational” to “non-operational.” The closure is one of six.

It’s not a coincidence that the action’s spokesperson, Beth Elson, is a veteran of both the Dump 41 and the mega-quarry fights. She’s learned a thing or two about forming alliances with non-natives – and about winning.

The province points out that even though the gates are locked, visitors can still stroll the 193-hectare green space. But the reality is, the 12 kilometres of wheelchair-accessible trails, mostly used for cross-country skiing, will no longer be maintained; comfort stations are closed, as are the buildings; and the lovely stone water fountains and picnic pavilions will presumably be left to moulder.

The women have named their occupation camp Springwater Nibi, “nibi” being the Ojibway word for “uncompromised water,” a vivid reminder that the park’s beautiful ponds are fed by underground springs – it sits on the headwaters of the Minesing Wetlands. Those gushing waters allowed park officials to restore habitat for the elegant trumpeter swan, a species once wiped out in eastern North America.

Occupiers, who have set up a sweat lodge and given smudge blessings to the park’s zoo animals before their relocation to other sanctuaries, say the land traversed by old trading routes has deep roots in Ojibway history. They worry that the Ministry of Natural Resources’ withdrawal will leave the space vulnerable to trashing.

First Nation occupiers have strong relationships with the Springwater Park Citizens’ Coalition. Native environmentalist Danny Beaton, an anti-Dump 41 mainstay, is an official SPCC adviser. The group is deeply troubled by the sprawl wreaking havoc in Simcoe County in defiance of the weak policy supposedly protecting land on the fringe of the Greenbelt.

Contrary to the Growth Management Plan, development is encircling Springwater. A few weeks before the closure, I noted a sign across a road from the park indicating proposed zoning changes from environmental protection to medium-density residential. The Coalition fears construction is poised to pollute the Wetlands.

The province says it has no intention of selling the land, but the SPCC is skeptical that the government can resist building pressures.

Parks Ontario’s Jolanta Kowalski tells me parks are being closed as a cost-saving measure, part of a “transformation plan to make the ministry more modern, efficient and sustainable.’’ Springwater, she says, “returns only 53 cents on the dollar” and gets half the visits it did a decade ago. Changing its status, she says, will provide savings of $70,000 and avoid a capital investment of $1 million.

It depends on what you value, of course. The Beausoleil women say they are taking over the space from a ministry that has left it to ruin, and they want an aboriginal healing and heritage centre established on site. Will the Liberals see the light?

John Bacher is the author of Two Billion Trees And Counting: The Legacy Of Edmund Zavitz.

news@nowtoronto.com

Dr. Bacher continues to serve on our SPCC Advisory Council.


Map showing areas of Midhurst Secondary Plan the Province will not dispute

December 3, 2012

Note: Wastewater treatment plant is planned to be built on the NE corner of Snow Valley and Wilson Drive.Map Midhurst Midland

There is a combination of Springwater Provincial Park (protected, somewhat), provincial forest, Simcoe County forest, private and CPR lands that border Snow Valley Road, Wilson Drive, Highway 2 and Bayfield Street North. A total of perhaps 1,200 acres.

Excerpt:

On Nov. 29, 2012 the Province of Ontario announced that it will not dispute some parts of the Midhurst Secondary Plan at the OMB hearings. This map shows the areas within the Midhurst Secondary Plan boundaries which the Province will not contest  (shown in yellow) and those lands which will be contested (shown in white). Although the yellow areas look relatively small, the plan is to build housing for 10,500 to 12,000 people within those yellow spaces, i.e. the housing is relatively dense (35 – 40 people per hectare).

What does it mean?

  • Midhurst will grow the size of Midland at 16,000 (rather than Orillia: nearly 30,000),
  • “only” 4 – 5,000,000 litres per day of effluent will be discharged into Willow Creek (Minesing Wetlands) versus 10,600,000 litres, and
  • “only” 741 acres of prime farmland will be lost (not 1,700 acres).

Courtesy of Midhurst Ratepayers’ Association, FriendsofMidhurst.ca

Response from Springwater Mayor Linda Collins:

Originally posted on iLoveMidhurst.ca on December 3, 2012.


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