Drawing the Line on Growth


A stretch of land between Innisfil Beach Road and the Ninth Line now known as the Leonard’s Beach (Alcona North) Secondary Plan illustrates the latest tussle over the rules surrounding Ontario’s Places to Grow policy. Places to Grow set limits on development in ‘greenfield’ areas, by tying it to a requirement for more infill and intensification within existing settlement areas.  This was followed by stricter definition and mapping of existing settlement boundaries. Currently, a developer has appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) to have 150 hectares within the Alcona Settlement Boundary below the Ninth Line, plus 61 hectares above the Ninth Line to permit development. An OMB hearing takes place September 9 to 11.

My regular readers might recall that the Province has final approval of all Official Plans. Simcoe County approved Innisfil’s Official Plan (OPA 1) as part of its own planning process. However, the Province ruled that both Simcoe County’s and Innisfil’s Official Plans did not adequately conform with Places to Grow policy:

“OPA 1 was approved in October 2009 by the County of Simcoe, and included a portion (150 ha) of the Leonard’s Beach Secondary Plan lands as the northern settlement boundary expansion area for Alcona. OPA 1 was subsequently appealed to the OMB by the Province and other appellants. The primary reason for the Province’s appeal was that they disagreed with the resultant increase in population from 55,000 to 65,000.”

“A decision was never made by Council with respect to the [developer’s] original 2004 Leonard’s Beach Secondary Plan application… On May 10, 2012, the applicant appealed a 211 hectare part of the application because of the non-decision by the Town to adopt the original 2004 application … The appeal for only part of the [developer’s] original 2004 application was in order to meet the transition provisions of the Provincial Growth Plan that ‘grandfather’ applications less than 300 hectares.”

In 2012, Council “entered into a Minutes of Settlement with the applicant regarding the settlement boundary expansion” … and has prepared “preferred land uses and policies” for the proposed development area in the event that the OMB approves the Settlement Boundary change:


  • The proposed Secondary Plan provides for two (2) neighbourhoods bisected by a large natural environmental area
  • the eastern being primarily residential, serving as an extension to the existing residential area to the south
  • the western consisting of a mix of commercial and residential uses, with most commercial uses located along the 20th Sideroad.
  • Leslie Drive and Webster Boulevard would be extended to 20th Sideroad. Jans Boulevard would be extended north to the 9th Line.

If completed as proposed, the development would add about 5,500 population and 850 jobs. Residential areas would include a mix of housing styles and sizes including single family, townhouses and multi-unit plus some mixed-use live-work units. Click on the link below to download a detailed description of the Secondary Plan proposal. A staff report to Council is expected on Wednesday Sep. 4 containing recommendations for the hearing on Sep. 9.

In a situation somewhat similar to this in Waterloo, the OMB approved the inclusion of 1,000 hectares to the existing settlement boundary. However, in an unusual move the Province is appealing that decision and is reported to be considering future changes to the operation of the OMB.

AlconaNorth SecPlan (50 pages) PDF