Simcoe County Official Plan Appeal Drags On and On and On

I have been attending the Ontario Municipal Board hearings on this matter.   It is more crowded than a Rolling Stones concert! (I know, I know, …who?).  It is filled with lawyers and planners.  The combined hourly rate must be through the roof.

So here is what is going on.

The Province passed what is known as the Places to Grow Act, that essentially is a reassertion of what the Province directs as appropriate growth in terms of land development.  It is both complex and simple at the same time.

The Province then passed a specific amendment to the Act (or more particularly the “Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe”), that deals with Simcoe County.

Although there are many aspects of this legislation, for the purposes of our discussion, what is important is that the Province has imposed a “growth cap” for the County, and each local municipality.  But the Province also put in place a temporary “pressure release valve” that allows for a short period of time, certain growth to be permitted in excess of the caps subject to certain conditions, the main one being that the lands be already within the “settlement area” (think town, village, hamlet) boundary.

This “pressure release valve” is to the extent of an additional 20,000 people county-wide, and is only open to be used for a limited time.

The County’s proposed Official Plan has proposed a method to assess applications for access to the additional growth allocation, by setting up certain conditions and in particular a proposed “Decision Making Matrix”, which is a fancy way of saying checklist to be applied to determine who best qualifies.

As far as I can tell, it is designed to remove political interference, and to provide an arguably objective framework for the decision-making process.

Currently, those parties who have retained land use planner experts, have their experts meeting in private to see what level of consensus can be reached on proper planning principles, as to the wording and application of these provisions.  Some, but not much, agreement has been reached.  There still remains obviously contentious issues.

For those who have “skin in the game” there is much at stake.

More on this will be posted in future.

John Barzo
205-60 Collier Street,
Barrie, Ontario, Canada
L4M 1G8

#: 705-733-6245

Leave a Comment

  • Chris Carrier at 5:11 pm

    John has the province dealt with the part-time population numbers yet. For example Stats Can says the population of the Town of Collingwood is 19k plus yet the Town’s Official Plan has it at 26k when the part-time population is included. When you add in the part time populations of a number of municipalities you exceed the 20k additional. Any comments Sir?

    • John Barzo at 5:27 pm

      I will try to look into that for you. My vague recollection is that seasonal numbers don’t factor in. If I am correct, that could end up being a big loophole (either good or bad depending on what side one is on)

    • John Barzo at 10:26 am

      Firstly, I do not believe that the 20,000 additional allocation is effected in any way by seasonal or part-time population numbers. It’s function is for a limited purpose dealing with lands within a settlement area that are not currently designated as “lands for urban uses”. More importantly, the 20,000.00 allocation can only be used to convert lands that are currently within a settlement area and currently designated either rural or agricultural. If it is currently designated as something other than rural or agricultural, it cannot qualify for re-designation to urban use under this provision. I am also including for your review the most recent version of the definitions section in the draft County Official Plan. Note how the former definition for “Non Permanently Occupied” is deleted, and the new definitions for “Recreational District”. You will also see that the definition for “Resource Based Recreational Use” is deleted.

      The question I still have (meaning I do not know the answer) is whether the part-time or seasonal are included within the growth caps contained in what is known as Schedules 3 and 7.

      • John Barzo at 10:28 am

        Due to technical difficulties, I will have to post the definitions section to a blog article.

  • Lynn Thomson at 3:34 pm

    Is the county willing to forfeit agricultural land & re-zone it to general commercial??