Readers might want to circle May 21 on their calendars. This is the date of a public Open House (Town Hall, 5 to 8 pm) to explain Council’s plan to form 2 arms-length “Municipal Service Corporations” (MSC) to build and manage water and sewage infrastructure.
Without going into a lot of detail, this is considered necessary because the Town will require large amounts of funding for ambitious water and waste-water expansion. However, Innisfil has neither the borrowing ability, (limited by legislation), or sufficient funds from development charges (DC). Developers usually pay DCs after construction while the money is required well in advance to install infrastructure first.
The following graph may be adequate to illustrate the magnitude of money being sought for water works in coming years:
Here’s a map to illustrate what this money will be paying for. The Town is focused on creating an “Economic District” employment area extending west of highway 400. Currently, septic systems are impractical and unaffordable to attract prospective companies to this area.
The newspaper notice of this Open House describes this project as “an exciting and ground-breaking opportunity … Servicing will attract more businesses to Innisfil Heights and more importantly secure local jobs for Innisfil’s future.” But there’s a little more to it. The Town’s earlier Municipal Servicing Plan included a “6th Line Campus Node”.
“Although the “official status” of the 6th Line Campus Node has yet to be incorporated into the Town’s Official Plan, the official Council minutes reflect a strong desire to create a future vision for the 6th Line through the creation of an educational/ medical/ institutional campus … in order to maximize the economic opportunities along HWY 400 corridor (Innisfil Heights) that a strategic investment in critical water and wastewater infrastructure would be required, including the servicing of the 6th Line.” (Town of Innisfil Staff Report, March 18, 2015)
Coincidentally, another Information Session takes place on May 28 (Town Hall, 5 pm to 8 pm) concerning the Environmental Assessment being made in preparation for widening the 6th Line to four lanes.
The projections to 2031 provided in the MSC report indicates that the number of non-residential (i.e. – business) water users would increase by 22% while residential users would increase by about 130% in the next 16 years. In the same period, residential water demand would increase by 112% while non-residential demand (commercial, industrial & institutional) would increase by about 8%. Not surprisingly, the bulk of the cost for this ambitious plan will be borne by residents through their water rates. The MSC expects to effectively finance the infrastructure costs and build up reserves for the maintenance of the proposed system.
While Council received a detailed Business Analysis making the financial case for a Municipal Service Corporation, it is all based on the assumption that the Innisfil Heights employment area (and projected expansion) is the right way to go. Part of me is still skeptical. How about you?