Mapping the Future

The last major Official Plan, Inspiring Innisfil, was released in February 2011. It focused on a strategy of creating a stronger community identity, linking scattered neighbourhoods, focusing on development of an urban centre, developing tourism assets, business development and retention, and heritage preservation.

This past week saw the release of Innisfil’s latest Official Plan review, Our Place which will guide development and employment to 2031. It proposes the development of numerous public spaces, gathering places, and commercial clusters to enliven each of our neighbourhoods as places to meet, play, entertain and thrive. It proposes uses for Innisfil Heights employment lands.

I have not had a chance to review it thoroughly but will be discussing many of these ideas in future postings. I think that many Innisfil residents will be intrigued, if not excited, about many of the creative ideas suggested for their area.

To begin consultations, a public Open House is being held on Wednesday, November 1 from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. at Town Hall to inform residents and receive comments. This will be followed by a public meeting at Town Hall on Wednesday, November 8 at 6:30 p.m.

Residents should download the Official Plan documents to learn the specific proposals for their neighbourhood and for major Town locations such as libraries, Innisfil Beach Park and the Town municipal campus.

Our Place Official Plan Documents
email comments: ourplace@innisfil.ca
An online survey will also be made available on the Town website.

 

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Innisfil Opens a Walk-In Clinic

Improved access to local health care is another step closer with the opening of a walk-in health clinic scheduled to open on November 1 in temporary quarters at the Town Hall. Medical services will be provided by Barrie and Community Family Medicine Clinics (BCFMC) and Ontario Telemedicine Network. Clinic hours are posted online. The clinic services will eventually move to a permanent medical facility currently being planned.

Transportation to the walk-in clinic at Town Hall can be obtained through the Town’s pilot Uber transportation service with a fixed rate of $3.00 to and from the Town campus. For the first two weeks (Nov. 1 to 14) of clinic operation, Uber transportation to the clinic will be free with a promotional code through the Uber app.

The Town is a major contributor to the pending construction of a permanent “Health Hub” to be built on the Town ‘campus’. In a collaboration with Innisfil Health Partners and the Stroud Medical Centre, Innisfil will provide funding for a new 44,500 square foot facility that will include space for public meetings and education.

The Town of Innisfil is contributing an interest-only (2.75%) loan of $5.4 million as a partner in the project and a $10.1 million mortgage to finance construction. According to an earlier press report, the town will have “partial ownership and control of Innisfil Health Partners Inc. (IHP), which will operate the building”. The intention is to recover debenture costs through rental of “community space” in the Hub.

When operational, the Health Hub will offer access to family doctors, a walk-in clinic, x-ray and lab services, a pharmacy as well as an Ontario Telemedicine Network (OTN) video conferencing facility to allow secure consultation with medical specialists anywhere in Ontario.

The Health Hub is expected to alleviate the burden of lengthy travel and waiting times for Innisfil residents needing a wide variety of medical services. It will also be available to the seasonal population of Friday Harbour Resort.

Our Creative Side

Lately, I have become a member of the Innisfil Arts, Culture, and Heritage Council (IACHC). Excuse me if I just refer to it here, in the broadest sense, as the ‘Arts Council’. It has allowed me to glimpse Innisfil’s creative side and meet or learn about some talented local artists, designers, authors, film-makers and performers.

The activities of our creative community sometimes pass a little under the radar and don’t always receive the attention they deserve. So, from time to time I’m going to write about a project that I think readers would appreciate knowing about. Here’s an opportunity coming in October in preparation for Cookstown’s annual Light Up Night – a traditional Cookstown celebration that kicks off the Christmas season:

Lanterns

A Light Up Lantern Workshop is being led by artist, Christina Luck, and theatre designer, Bev Cully. This is a “workshop where participants will learn to construct a sturdy lantern frame & techniques for applying paper covering, decorating and finishing.” Participants will make a “glowing stick and paper lantern”. If they bring their creation to this year’s Light Up Night, it should be extra bright and cheerful! [Cookstown – November 25, tree lighting at 6:00 pm & parade at 6:30].

This workshop consists of two Sunday sessions on October 15 and 29 (10 am to 12:30 pm) in Cookstown. The workshop is open to all ages – teens, adults and children accompanied by a parent. The two sessions and required materials are provided for a fee of $25 per person. Space is limited.

Cookstown’s Light Up Night seems like a good opportunity to throw a little light into the darkness of winter and the world. To register for the Lantern Workshop contact: christinajluck@icloud.com

7th Line Gets a Lakeside Makeover

Map7thL

A Public Open House is being held on Wednesday, October 11 to invite public comment on a plan to facilitate road improvements to the 7th Line from the 20th Sideroad to Lake Simcoe. According to the public notice, the purpose is to “accommodate future growth … and to address capacity and operational deficiencies affecting the subject corridor”. Yeah, I don’t know what that means either, but the notice goes on to say, “improvements will be made to the existing road cross-section and intersections including provisions for active transportation (i.e. walking, cycling etc.) and municipal servicing.” The project covers a distance of approximately 3 km.

This is the first of two planned Public Open Houses. Residents can drop by between 4:00 pm and 7:00 pm on October 11 at the Town Hall to review “alternative solutions” being considered, ask questions and offer comments.

Those not able to attend the Open House will be able to access documents online at the Town website (www.innisfil.ca/7thea) after October 11. Residents will be able to submit comments to the Town on the plan until October 25.

Preserving a Viable Agricultural System

The agricultural sector reportedly contributes more than 37 billion dollars to Ontario’s GDP. As population continues to grow, the Ontario government has released a draft document, Implementation Procedures for the Agricultural System in Ontario’s Greater Golden Horseshoe. It is intended to provide greater clarity and guidance to municipal planners for the preservation of prime agricultural lands.

Especially closer to Toronto, the fear is that remaining farming enterprises are becoming more scattered and isolated from the necessary agricultural support services that would help them remain viable. Farmers have told the government that they need assurance that agricultural lands will have long-term protection in order to plan for new investments in farming assets.

“At this time, protection of agricultural land varies across the GGH. Similar land may be designated prime agricultural area in one municipality and designated rural lands across the municipal boundary, even when soils and other land use characteristics are comparable. While all planning decisions must be consistent with the PPS [Provincial Policy Statement] and conform with other applicable provincial land use plans, there may be differences in policy interpretation and application due to differing study methodologies and growth pressures from one municipality to another.”  Continue reading

Let’s Take Back Our Cities

The announcement that Toronto’s Air Canada Centre is going to be rebranded as the Scotiabank Arena generated about as much enthusiasm as the notice of another road closure. We seem to have reached a tipping point for public toleration of corporate intrusion into daily life. I think I reached the breaking point years ago when I arrived at Union Station and was appalled to see the floors and stair risers of the historic building covered with vinyl-graphics advertising in addition to the numerous posters and ads already covering the walls. Virtually every arts and sports venue in Toronto has been claimed by a corporate brand. I no longer know where many of them are because the current name is meaningless and some names have changed several times.

For years we have been told that wages and corporate taxes have to be kept low to compete globally. Yet the same corporations still have hundreds of millions to spend on discretionary branding exercises, and that’s after paying executives record-breaking, tax deductible, compensation. In 2016, Canadian CEO pay was 159 times greater than the average income (Huffington Post). We are expected to accept corporate names on buildings, arenas, and theatres; transit vehicles wrapped in advertising; bus shelters and litter bins plastered with ads. Every major fund-raising charity event is co-opted with corporate advertising. This is the corporate elite telling cities, “We own you.”  Continue reading