A Place Called Alcona – North and South

Last we heard, the Town’s Official Plan was in the hands of a provincial facilitator to resolve the differences of opinion between the provincial government and the Town over its Official Plan. It’s the provincial government’s view that the Plan does not conform to the Places to Grow policy. The major issues are the projected growth target for Innisfil and the lack of a “growth node” designation for Innisfil. Ontario wants to reduce Innisfil’s growth target to 53,000 from 65,000.

Most reports suggested that the facilitator’s report would be released in November after the provincial election but that possibility has disappeared unless I’ve missed something.

Meanwhile, at a public meeting in Springwater township, Midhurst residents were vocal about their opposition to a draft plan there that would “make Midhurst larger than Gravenhurst in the short term, and the size of Stratford in 20 years” – i.e. 31,000 vs. a current population of 18,000. The province promptly appealed that plan to the OMB as a non-conforming plan as well.

It’s pretty clear then, that the province wants to define and preserve (as much as possible) a rural buffer, comprised of Springwater and Innisfil, around the bulging City of Barrie. How that buffer will take shape in Innisfil to both absorb thousands of new residents and sustain a ‘rural character’ at the same time is our exceptional challenge. Regardless of the eventual resolution of their Official Plans, Simcoe County and its municipal members are pressing on with non-conforming plans.  Innisfil is continuing to plan for possible development in the greenfield areas of Alcona North and Alcona South to accommodate a projected – but not provincially sanctioned – population of 65,000.  How development ultimately evolves in those areas may be a critical turning point in the future of Innisfil.

A public meeting at the Innisfil Town Hall is being held at 6:30 pm on Wednesday, December 7 to consider two amendments to the Official Plan consisting of the Alcona North and Alcona South Secondary Plans:

“The purpose and effect of the proposed amendments is to plan for the lands comprising the Urban Settlement Expansion Areas of Official Plan Amendment No. 1…. Official Plan Amendment No. 1 proposes to expand the settlement area boundaries of Alcona to the north and south to accommodate lands required to meet the 2031 targeted population of 65,000 … Official Plan No. 1 is currently under appeal…

A key component of the Secondary Plan study process is to obtain feedback from community residents and other interested parties. Draft land use concepts for both Alcona North and South will be presented at the Public Meeting, as well as key study findings.”

Residents can attend the public meeting and make oral or written submissions in support of, or in opposition to, the proposed Amendments.

Town of Innisfil – Public Notice

Innisfil Scope: Alcona area preparing for growth projection

Midhurst residents voice opposition to growth plan

Published earlier: Alcona North and Alcona South Secondary Plans (August, 2011)