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Friday, January 18, 2008

Population Growth - Barrie/Innisfil

Simcoe County has to think beyond Barrie and Innisfil in dividing up future population and jobs, said county CAO Mark Aitken.

In an interview reacting to Barrie saying the city needs 40,000 of the county’s unallocated Barrie-South Simcoe projection of 76,900 people, Aitken said the county must consider the needs beyond Barrie and Innisfil.

“Bradford and Alliston are very important settlement communities in Simcoe County as well,” he said.

“Bradford West Gwillimbury is a municipality that has great opportunities and potential. It has an Official Plan that would put employment lands on Highway 400 and (which) has significant development interests and its proximity to the GTA puts Bradford as a municipality for growth opportunities.

“Innisfil is growing immensely and has some opportunities, ideals, vision and (developers’) interest. New Tec, with Honda and its industrial opportunities, has development interests and great opportunities. If you’ve got all these municipalities with great opportunities and potential development opportunities … I’d hate to get hung up … on numbers,” he said.

Barrie says it needs 40,000 of the unallocated 76,900 people, so the city can achieve a population of 220,000 – a figure that also includes the city reaching 180,000 through intensification within its current boundaries.

The 220,000 figure makes a $240-million upgrade to membrane technology at the city’s sewage treatment plant more affordable, said Barrie’s CAO Jon Babulic.

However, for it to be affordable and for its capacity to be well-used, the city needs additional people and jobs – which translates into additional land for 40,000 people.

“If we don’t get the population allocation, (Barrie) will have a plant meeting the more stringent regulations and another plant somewhere else would have to be built,” which Babulic said results in duplication.

“If we don’t get the population allocation, our development charges go right through the roof. We are no longer the desirable place we are. Here’s the regional answer.

“With these new restrictions on phosphorous, we will protect Lake Simcoe and we will accommodate growth. It’s a fit.”

Innisfil’s vision is to reach a population of 105,000, said Innisfil’s CAO Larry Allison – and according to the county’s growth projections, the county has set aside 15,300 for the town, a number that’s not included in the unallocated and much-discussed 76,900.

“Our population should be 105,000, and we’re in the mid 50,000s, so in theory, there is 50,000 additional (residents) Innisfil should and could accommodate,” said Allison.

Subtracting the 15,300, Innisfil requires approximately 35,000 of the unallocated 76,900.

Over the course of the fall, the province was expected several times to assist in disaggregating the 76,900.

Aitken did not deny a 20,000/20,000/35,000 possibility, which would focus on Bradford West Gwillimbury and New Tecumseth.

Barrie, Innisfil and the county are waiting to hear what provincial development facilitator Alan Wells will recommend to the province.


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