The Planning Process
Smart Growth Panel
Lake Simcoe Rescue Coalition
The challenges we face are all associated with rapid population growth of Simcoe County (including Barrie and Orillia) which based on current trends is projected to grow from 340,000 to 700,000 by 2031, according to Hemson Consulting in their Report to Simcoe County Council.
This kind of pressure on our resources does not include any initiatives to accelerate this growth rate through the approval of mega projects which will open the flood gates for new mega projects of all kinds. It is based on current annual Net-Migration of 8000 a year rising to 9000 a year.
City of Barrie forecasts suggest even higher growth rates with a population moving to 270,000 to 370,000 over the same time period.
Accelerated Growth would come from four Simcoe County mega projects being proposed in Bond Head, Banting, Big Bay Point and South of Barrie totalling over 60,000 homes and 180,000 population. Two of these projects are in Innisfil.
We do not have a job problem. Jobs follow population. We have transportation problems, hospital problems, doctor problems, schooling problems, waste disposal problems, policing problems, education problems and fire protection problems.
And most importantly, we have an enormous ongoing threat to the Lake, our environment and our lifestyle.
The Innisfil District Association has to collaborate with associations throughout Simcoe County to develop a Manifesto that can be embraced by all the politicians at the local level, Barrie, the County and the Province. It has to be a moderate growth policy based on solid research that incorporates normal trend growth patterns, not the accelerated growth that is so threatening to all of us in Innisfil.
Developers put political pressure on Municipal Councils to approve their proposals. This starts the process of approval that involves the County and the Province. But planning at the Municipal level is not designed for billion dollar projects.
Our municipal politicians are paid very little for the responsibilities they assume when elected. They do not have staff support and lack proper planning resources. The result is obvious--approving projects at the local level has more to do with politics than good planning. Our local politicians need support in developing public positions on economic development.
Under new rules established by provincial governments the planning process favours developers over local municipal governments. Now a developer can go the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) to seek changes in Official Plans of the Town and the County without waiting for any official approvals. Developers as a result of these changes will now heavily promote their projects and create artificial short term public support. This is designed to make it difficult politically for a municipality to spend tax payers dollars to protect their official plan at the OMB and fight the plans of a developer.
Issues like police, schooling and local roads are the municipalities concern and local politicians look for sources of new tax revenue so they can expand services to the community. Issues like the environment get very little local attention. The County worries about protecting our Greenlands, waste disposal and hospital services.
A change in the Official Plan of the Town has to be approved by the County and a change in the Official Plan of the County has to be approved by the Province. The Ministries of the Environment, Municipal Affairs and Housing and Natural Resources all have a say on major development projects. The Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority, and the various Ministries develop studies that they present to the County which is the approval authority for local development initiatives.
Mr. Wayne Young CET, CRS
Manager of Operational Services
Town of Innisfil
2183 Innisfil Beach Road
Innisfil, ON L9S 1A3
Subject: Class Environmental Assessment
Innisfil Heights, 400 Industrial/Commercial Area
Dear Mr. Young:
On behalf of the Big Bay Point District Association Inc., I am writing to support the Town of Innisfil’s efforts to bring sewer and water services to the subject area.
We believe that providing full municipal water and sanitary sewer services to these designated Commercial and Industrial areas of the Town is where the Town’s development priorities should lie.
March 15, 2003
Central Ontario Smart Growth Panel
Smart Growth Secretariat
16th Floor, 777 Bay Street
Toronto, Ontario, M5G 2E3
To whom it may concern:
The Big Bay District Association Inc. represents the lakeshore community of Innisfil. It has a membership of over 300 residences and is anticipated to double in size.
We generally applaud the discussion process underway to promote the concept of smart growth. There is a concern, however, that what is referred to as smart growth development is becoming a motherhood term that can add an aura of respectability to any kind of high density development.
Our fundamental recommendation is that The Central Ontario Smart Growth panel make a clear distinction between smart growth in settlement areas and smart growth in resort areas.
A smart growth resort community on the lake designed to attract large numbers of weekend relatives, visitors and tourists can provide density at the resort but urban sprawl everywhere else. This weekend traffic can double the population of a resort community and create traffic and congestion all along the lake as visitors hit the highways and sideroads and seek to put their boats in the water.
As well, facilities for a resort community such as boutiques and restaurants that are established to accommodate the needs of visitors will not prevent residents from shopping at all of the conventional shopping areas creating more traffic bottlenecks.
It is very difficult for a resort development to meet the goals of a smart growth settlement development as outlined in the government’s discussion paper, especially as it relates to gridlock and the protection of the environment. A smart growth resort community must be kept to a minimal size to ensure it does not do damage to all of the surrounding communities.
It is very clear from our perspective that the kind of sprawl and traffic nightmare that will characterize a high density resort development would not be found in an inland settlement community of a similar size, and that a clear distinction should be made in your deliberations between the characteristics of an appropriate smart growth settlement area and a smart growth resort area.
IDA is working with a coalition of associations, under the banner Lake Simcoe Rescue Coalition, to pressure the Province to provide more support for protecting the health of Lake Simce.
Prepared by Jack Macdonald
for the Alliance for a Better Georgina
In the late 1970s the Ontario Ministry of the Environment determined that excessive amounts of phosphorus entering the lake were primarily responsible for deteriorating water quality, and that the excesses were originating from human activities. The Ministry conducted studies in the early 1980s leading to a report in 1985 with 18 recommendations for reducing phosphorus input. The following year, 1986, MOE, Natural Resources, Agriculture and Food, and the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority jointly submitted to the Ontario Cabinet a proposal for funding. Implementation was announced in 1990. The program has involved monitoring inputs of phosphorus, calculating total annual inputs, and implementation of remedial measures.
The published data show inputs varying inconsistently from year to year, ranging from 156.5 tonnes (90-1) to 85.4 tonnes (94-5) with no discernible trend. According to LSRCA, remedial action reduced inputs by 14 tonnes by 1995. The target is an additional 25 tonnes reduction and the projected time frame is 25 years. The target is directed at phosphorus resulting from urban run-off, agricultural sources, vegetable polders and sewage treatment plants. These sources are thought to account for less than 60 per cent of the total phosphorus loading, the remainder being atmospheric and natural input.
25 Years to Fix the Problem –a Realistic Target?
Given the state of the lake, a target of 25 years for restoration cannot be considered timely. The damage resulting from the present deterioration is large: fish stocks have diminished, stinking weeds have accumulated on shorelines, swimming and boating have been discouraged, lake property values have been hurt, tax assessments have diminished on appeal, tourism has been affected. This all adds up to a serious threat to the Lake Simcoe economy and the attractiveness of the lake communities.
Ingredients for Success
Political will in Ontario and sufficient funding are the necessary ingredients for success,. The lack of funding has had strong negative impacts on progress. Monitoring of phosphorus inputs from the watershed is incomplete. Forty-two percent of the watershed is not monitored for flow or for phosphorus levels or both. Thus figures for total input represent a combination of measurements and calculations resulting in an error of unknown dimension. Without full monitoring it is probably not possible to determine the impact of remedial measures. It is in fact not clear whether the trend for phosphorus inputs in recent years is up or down. The target of 25 tonnes reduction does not take into account off-setting increases in loading resulting from further development and population growth. Reductions will have to come from controlling urban run-off, changes in agricultural practices, and controls over vegetable polders. Currently progress with these targets usually requires negotiated agreements and cost-sharing. Timely progress will require enforceable regulations and financial assistance.
Strengths of Current Approach
Although funding is inadequate, the general approach to dealing with the problem has strengths. First, it relies on resources and cooperation of several government agencies -LSRCA, MOE, Ministry of Natural Resources, Parks Canada, Environment Canada, York Region, Department of Fisheries and Oceans. The cooperation allows for monitoring tributary water flows, phosphorus levels, measuring atmospheric inputs, measuring water balances (inflows and outflows, precipitation, evaporation). These activities together offer the promise of comprehensive appreciation of sources and amounts of phosphorus and effectiveness of remedial measures. Secondly, the number of agencies involved provides an impressive resource of qualified and experienced scientists.
Political Action is Needed
To save the Lake, the Province must take the lead. The time is right for an approach to all political parties seeking their commitment to a plan of action which is designed to restore the health of the Lake promptly and thus limit the damage being done to the shortest time possible. Specifically, each party should be invited to commit to the following program.
- Full monitoring of water flows and phosphorus levels in the entire Lake Simcoe watershed.
- Prompt development of priorities and time lines for remedial action.
- Adoption by the government of enforceable regulations to achieve the objective of limiting phosphorus input to the lake to 75 metric tons per year.
- Provision of sufficient financial support to Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority to achieve the objective, and to communities and farmers faced with retrofitting to control phosphorus run-off.
- Establishment of an independent body to audit and report annually on progress toward restoring the lake.
If our Lake is to be saved we cannot leave its future to the Conservation Authority and LSEMS. The only way to get the Province to pay attention is if there is a groundswell of public momentum. People who believe the Lake is important must unite to insist on action.