Public comments on the Simcoe County Comprehensive Municipal Review will still be accepted until November 12
Residents, developers, special interest groups and others made their voices heard during eight more public briefings as part of Simcoe County’s first-ever comprehensive municipal review earlier this week.
The review is a planning exercise in which Simcoe County will meet with all upper and lower tier municipalities that are subject to the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe. Since official plans must be consistent with provincial policy, the growth plan requires certain items to undergo a full municipal review.
Specific topics that will be covered by the review include growth management / land needs assessment, natural heritage system mapping, agricultural system mapping, climate change and watershed management.
At a public briefing on overall growth and preliminary population allocations, which took place on October 5, many residents expressed concerns. To read our story on this session, click here.
Here are five highlights from this week’s public consultation sessions.
1. Mapping of natural heritage
As part of Monday’s natural heritage mapping session, the consultants discussed changes recommended by the province to refine the Simcoe County map.
As part of these changes, 146 parcels of land totaling 1,444.76 hectares were recommended as additions to the natural heritage system. Approximately 379 plots are recommended for system disposal, totaling 4,521.28 hectares.
2. Climate change
According to the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit in Simcoe County, average annual temperatures are expected to rise by about 3.5 degrees Celsius by 2050, resulting in a climate similar to that of the state of Kentucky, which has relatively hot, humid, and rainy temperatures. summers, and more moderate cold and rainy winters.
Currently, county-wide, Collingwood and Wasaga Beach have both declared a climate emergency. Midland, Penetanguishene, Oro-Medonte, Severn, Tay and Tiny all participated in the development of a local climate change action plan prepared by Sustainable Severn Sound.
3. Watershed management
During a session on watershed management, some special interest groups spoke out to identify concerns about the order in which the review was undertaken.
âThis whole exercise is about growth and adapting to growth. In my opinion, growth is a huge problem for water quality. These kinds of (conversations) should have happened long before we started talking about population distribution, âsaid Claire Malcolmson of the Rescue Lake Simcoe Coalition. âWe didn’t even really talk about the quality of the water. How are people supposed to comment on this and what kinds of comments would actually be helpful? “
âThe watershed plan is not the answer to all questions,â said Ron Scheckenberger, consultant at Wood Environment & Infrastructure Solutions who oversees the watershed management portion of the review. âWe assess and evaluate the information and once that is done, we will identify the gaps. “
4. Prime agricultural land
Currently, the main agricultural area of ââthe County of Simcoe Official Plan is 154,252 hectares (33.4% of the county).
The province proposes to add approximately 57,418 hectares of prime agricultural land in total. The total area of ââthe proposed main agricultural area is 211,670 hectares, which corresponds to 45.8% of the county.
âWe are encouraged that they want to expand the acreage to 211,000 hectares,â said Dave Ritchie, representative of the Simcoe County Federation of Agriculture. âThe question that comes to mind is … where are we going to find this land to expand our agricultural base given the pressures on land use planning?
Nick McDonald of Meridian Planning Consultants said this is a priority issue.
“We will do everything possible throughout our process … to ensure that impacts on agriculture are minimized,” McDonald said.
5. Go forward
Public comments on the comprehensive municipal review are accepted until November 12.
More information on each topic, the ability to sign up for regular updates as well as contact information on how you can submit comments can be found here.