County proposes draft modified Official Plan 0
MIDHURST — While Simcoe County officials still await provincial approval for the county's Official Plan passed by councillors back in November 2008, county council recently released a draft proposed modified OP.
The draft modified OP, released June 26, incorporates provisions put forth in provincial legislation, including the Growth Plan Amendment, the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan and Infrastructure Minister Bob Chirarelli's announcements in January.
Those announcements "provided clarity" on some of the issues surrounding growth and economic activity in the Simcoe Sub Area, according to David Parks, the county's director of planning, development and tourism.
Chirarelli identified the county's primary settlement areas, including Alcona, Bradford West Gwillimbury, Alliston, Midland/Penetanguishene and Collingwood as well as primary economic areas that include the Bradford West Gwillimbury Employment Settlement Area, the Innisfil Heights Strategic Employment Area, the Lake Simcoe Regional Airport Economic Employment District and the Rama Road Economic District.
Under the Planning Act, after the county passed its OP in 2008, the province had 180 days to make a decision. When it failed to do so, a lack of decision was declared and the county appealed the decision to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB), where it remains to be decided upon.
"It's an OMB file and we're still waiting for a decision," said Parks, adding that since the county approved its original OP, the province has passed its growth plan with changes to the Simcoe Sub Area. "We're working on our own document and with the province to bring our Official Plan into conformity."
The province is also disputing the Midhurst Secondary Plan passed by Springwater Township at an OMB hearing expected to be scheduled for the winter of 2013.
The township's growth plan in 1996 showed an additional 6,500 residents over the next 35 years with those numbers staying about the same in both the 2004 and 2008 population statistics for Springwater.
However, they jumped to nearly 30,000 new residents (by 2031) last November and many Midhurst residents have been voicing their concerns since then.
Parks could not comment on the proposed growth plans relating to the Midhurst Secondary Plan.
"Midhurst is a matter of litigation (an OMB hearing) between our lawyers and the province," he said.
Parks said county residents have until Aug. 22 to comment on the draft proposed modified official Plan, which can be viewed by visiting www.simcoe.ca/dpt/pln/index.htm.
"We encourage the public to participate and make submissions. We're part way in the process and we want to keep people updated and make it as transparent as possible," he said.