On May 17th of this year the township held an information meeting and provided documents as an overview for the Midhurst Secondary Plan titled Midhurst 20/20. There was also a public open house on the Midhurst Secondary Plan EA process on May 29th.
In September the township published its response to the questions posed and held a special council meeting on September 17th with a hired lawyer to outline the township’s position. This is the sixth installment of articles on this complex issue. I encourage you to read the document yourself (found on the township website under Governance/Public Consultation/Midhurst Secondary Plan) and form your own opinion. Certain questions and answers are truncated for space consideration.
This is the last in a six part series that dissected the answers provided.
Question 57: Is the Township Council going to cancel the MSP since the current residents of Midhurst are opposed to it?
Township Answer: The matter will be discussed by the Township Solicitor at the Special Meeting of Council to be held on September 17th.
My Opinion: Since Collins, McLean, Webster, Clement and regrettably my councilor McConkey think this development is good for the township, they in fact passed a motion at the meeting to “not revisit, discuss or revise” the MSP. Only Hanna and Ritchie to their credit opposed the motion. Everyone was caught off guard and expected them to only receive the report as the Council typically does. I believe the constant visits by the landowners and developers to the mayors office preceding this meeting pushed them to table and approve the ill conceived resolution.
Question 64: Is Midhurst being developed to encourage annexation to the City of Barrie
Township Answer: No.
My Opinion: I agree. The reason Barrie will never be interested in Midhurst will be the legacy costs of the infrastructure. Barrie is already in a huge infrastructure replacement deficit and the expensive infrastructure required to service Midhurst will be much more expensive as the pipes run approximately 5 kilometres in either direction for water and sewer. Unfortunately since council says the Midhurst current residents do not have to connect, half the distance will have no connections making it very inefficient. Barrie’s growth direction from the province and their own official plans puts most of the development to the south into the approved annexed lands in Innisfil. They also built their state of the art “surface water” facility in the south end. Ironically if the MSP goes, within a few years the residents would want to be part of Barrie as the Springwater tax assessment increase, caused by the MSP infrastructure, will make Barrie’s taxes look like a bargain.
Question 65: Will there be a cost to the current taxpayers if Council rescinds the Midhurst Secondary Plan?
Township Answer: It is likely that legal action would be taken against the township if the secondary plan was cancelled.
My Opinion: I don’t agree. It is clear in the municipal act and the planning act that the Council has a right to approve or reject plans. There are also sections that specifically make the council and township immune to lawsuits if they conduct business in a rightful manner. This council has caved to the intimidation and threats of a few and has put all of us up for ransom because they lack the fundamental guts to make good decisions. Again only Hanna and Ritchie have illustrated through their votes that the MSP in its present form is flawed. The rest of council followed the enchanting tunes of the pied pipers; the landowners and the developers.
Question 66: How can future Township Councils be bound to the current Council’s contention that the Township will not force current residents to connect to the new water and sewer systems?
Township Answer: The current Council cannot bind a future Council.
My Opinion: I agree. Once all the costs are in, the township will quickly realize they need revenue from the existing 1400 homes in Midhurst and you will pay to hook up. Calculations range anywhere from $50,000 to $75,000 a lot to hook up. The township will of course give you a low rate loan that you can pay off over 20 years on your tax assessment bill. That’s a mere $3,000 to $4,000 a year added to your tax bill. These are just some of the legacy costs of this ill-conceived MSP.
Question 67: Did the Province mandate that the village of Midhurst Grow?
Township Answer: No. The 1998 Official Plan established development rights within the Midhurst Settlement Area.
My Opinion: The “No” answer is correct. The second part is not factual. In 1998 there was a “study area” established to research and find where best it would be to add the projected 3,500 people to the village, not 25,000 people. Don’t take my word for it, review the signed affidavits of Harold Parker, Paul Fleming and Ian Bender that were all in the loop at the time. The last two councils have danced to the tune of some well connected landowners and their representatives. The mega growth in Midhurst is not mandated, not included in any study up to 2008 and is an example of council not doing their job to protect the best interests of its constituents.
This is my final submission on this matter and you should be concerned and do your own homework as you will pay the price of the creation of the City of Midhurst. I will repeat, it is still not too late to slow down and modify this terrible plan for Midhurst. In January I encourage as many people as possible to file nomination papers and run for an elected office and bring about the change we need. It was refreshing to see 12 people attend the recent election information session hosted by the Township Clerk. It is obvious that more people than I are not happy with the direction of this council.
Talk to the Mayor, Deputy Mayor and Council and tell them to stop the greatest calamity that Springwater has ever experienced. The Midhurst Plan as planned is a disaster waiting to happen and you and I cannot afford it!