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Friday, May 30, 2008

Growth plan given the OK; Controversial plan puts emphasis on creating strong urban boundaries

Growth plan given the OK; Controversial plan puts emphasis on creating strong urban boundaries


After years of planning, the county finally has a growth plan in place as the newest puzzle piece in the creation of its new official plan.

"We've been talking about (the growth plan) for over three years. From where we are and where we want to go, there will be challenges along the way. We tend to look internally rather than at the common good. We need to position ourselves for the future," said Dennis Roughley, deputy-mayor of Bradford-West Gwillimbury.

The new growth plan puts emphasis on creating strong urban boundaries to avoid sprawl throughout rural areas, as well as population density targets, which call for 50 people and jobs per hectare by 2031.

"There will be more people coming to Simcoe County. The plan offers the flexibility for municipalities to seize any economic opportunity that comes their way," said Doug White, mayor of Bradford-West Gwillimbury.

Barrie city council members have criticized the plan, saying it doesn't create 'complete communities'.

"I've watched and read many comments coming out of Barrie city council where they say none of our communities are complete communities. I take great offence to that," Essa Mayor David Guergis said.

"As a ratepayer in the city of Barrie, I can say my property taxes have skyrocketed compared to my taxes in Essa. The roads in Barrie are not good and there is a landfill that is about to become full.

"I think Barrie has to get away from their 'centre of the universe' philosophy. If they want to participate, they should come back to the table. Essa wasn't represented at the table because we stepped back to allow two spaces for Barrie, which they chose not to use," Guergis said.

The plan was approved yesterday with 104 votes in favour and 12 votes against. The votes were weighted in relation to a municipality's population. Chris Carrier, mayor of Collingwood, James Downer, mayor of Midland, and Ruth Hackney, deputy-mayor of Midland, voted in opposition.

"Lake Simcoe has water quality issues already," said Carrier, adding the county would have trouble finding a place to build a sewage treatment plant that would accommodate the forecasted growth without approval complications.

"When Site 41 came before council, I was told it was too late

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