About Our Innisfil

Mike is a market researcher who has lived in Innisfil for 20 years. He has a keen interest in urban issues, sustainability and Smart Growth. He created this blog to share his interests and ideas with his community.

Seven Years Later

After writing this blog for more than seven years, I was a little disappointed to read a recent article in the Innisfil Journal with the headline, “Realtors see future at opening of Barrie association’s headquarters”.

It really indicates how little has changed regardless of any advocacy for more moderate expansion, preservation of agricultural land and greater emphasis on sustainable development. The designation of Barrie as an ‘Urban Growth Centre’ under the provincial Places to Grow Act seems like little more than a license for sprawl. The province allowed Barrie to annex 2,300 hectares from Innisfil in 2010. At the time there was an hysterical campaign claiming that Barrie had “run out” of industrial land, implying some sort of economic crisis without annexation. Now, the justification has been reversed, saying it is to accommodate a population growth from 147,000 to 210,000 in 2031 within a pattern of development that is already familiar to Barrie residents.

So, from their new headquarters at 676 Veterans Dr., Barrie realtors were admiring the view of their future profits:

“You couldn’t find a more appropriate place … where realtors gather — right on the edge of Barrie’s future growth in the city’s south end. The location didn’t escape [Barrie] Mayor Jeff Lehman at the official opening … Pointing south to a fence and an open field you can see from the headquarters conference room, Lehman said the future lies just beyond the state-of-the art headquarters… “It’s symbolic. That fence was the south boundary of Barrie before annexation,” he said. “It’s awesome. You are literally looking at the future.”

Here’s what the future looks like: “The city [Barrie] is currently (January 2018) processing 18 applications and site plans in the Hewitt’s area. If built as planned, those developments will contain a total of about 5,000 lots.
 In Salem, three applications have been submitted, totalling more than 1,500 lots.
“On the Salem side, we also have employment lands,” Barrie’s building services director said. “That’s a really important balance to the residential.”

An 86 acre parcel at the northwest corner of the intersection of McKay Road West and Veterans Drive will be developed into 839 residential units. It was rezoned from “agricultural to neighbourhood residential and mixed use, institutional education and open space”.

“… the Salem and Hewitt secondary plans are now complete and staff are currently working through 11 active development applications for the area, [Barrie’s] growth planning manager said. … Those applications cover more than 440 hectares and include about 7,560 residential units, as well as employment lands, mixed-use, natural and open space… [This] is how we’re going to manage growth applications and infrastructure planning for 30,000 people over the next 20 years,” Mayor Jeff Lehman said. “It’s basically how you’re planning … development for a small town.”

“Beginning in 2019, [Barrie’s] building department expects to process about 800 to 1,200 permits for new units annually for the next few years”


Some Taxing Answers

One of my readers had a few questions about the proposed Innisfil budget so I’m taking a little time to provide answers … and a little more.

The Taxpayers

Statistics Canada put Innisfil’s population at 36,566 in 2016. Innisfil’s average gross household income is $107,643. Median after-tax income of two-or-more-person households in 2015 was $81,984. However, high-income earners skewed the average income higher to $93,000 after tax.

The Household Assessment

The draft budget says the “typical” Innisfil property Is assessed at $423,000 in 2019 and will be assessed at $446,000 in 2020. Waterfront properties have an average assessed value of $758,000.

Future Growth

“About 11,100 housing units are forecast to be constructed from 2015 to 2034. The forecast composition of the new units – 61% single and semi-detached units, 17% row units, and 22% apartments – is a reflection of the housing required by family forming in-migrants and, in the case of Friday Harbour, second home owners.

The higher rate of household growth compared to population growth is predicated on a slight decline in occupancy levels in existing housing.

… the majority of new housing (5,272 units or 48%) is to be built in the Alcona service area, which incorporates developments in Alcona proper as well as at Leonard’s Beach, Sandy Cove, and the Big Cedar Point Shoreline. Substantial housing is also anticipated in the Friday Harbour (in the near-term), Lefroy-Belle Ewart, and Alcona South (Sleeping Lion) service areas.” (Long Range Financial Plan, Town of Innisfil – Hemson Consulting, Feb. 2016)

Industrial / Commercial Assessment

Innisfil’s assessment base is almost entirely residential. Including farms, 92.5% of property assessment value is classed as ‘Residential’. Just 6.3% of property assessment is classed as Commercial. Industrial assessment makes up 0.8% of the total.

The 2019 total proposed tax levy is $34.9 million, so we can estimate that $2.47 million is from industrial and commercial assessment.

The 2019 draft budget indicates that the average 2018 Commercial tax assessment in 2018 was $3.18 / square foot. The average Industrial tax assessment in 2018 was $1.97 / square foot.

Hemson Consulting estimated that employment would increase over 20 years (from 2014 to 2034) from 9,300 to 14,000. About 56% of employment in 2034 is estimated to be in Commercial spaces, and 41% in Industrial space. Accordingly, Commercial space would increase to 143,000 square metres in 2034 and Industrial space would occupy 164,700 square metres. Calculating from existing average assessment rates, this would yield about $8.3 million in property tax in 2034.

Some Taxing Decisions

It’s budget season again in Innisfil. That means Council is busy allocating almost $80 million for operating ($34.9M) and capital projects ($45M) for 2019 and a little over $63 million total for 2020. Over the two-year period, a total of $45.9 million is being allocated to various road projects.

In previous years, the budget was organized according to municipal departments. The problem with that approach was that the cost of a particular service might be allocated to multiple departments – for instance, customer service, human resources, maintenance etc.) That made it difficult to identify the overall cost of a specific municipal service.

This year staff presented a budget organized by service categories. Some of the larger proposed budget allocations for 2019 and 2020 were recently reported by Simcoe.com:

  • $15 million – urbanization of the 7th Line, from 20th Sideroad to Lake Simcoe
  • $5.8 million – 7th Line improvements, 10th Sideroad to Yonge St.
  • $5 million – playground, water play area, landscaping, and pathway in Alcona core
  • $1.5 million – new park in Sleeping Lion development
  • $916,000 – repairs to parking lot, Innisfil Recreation Complex
  • $550,000 – rescue/firefighting boat with $500,000 donated by Friday Harbour
  • $318,000 (2019) + $1 million (2020) – new docking facility, Innisfil Beach Park

Overall, that means an ‘average’ Innisfil household (assessed at $423,000) can expect an increase of $98.23 on the 2019 property tax bill. Innisfil’s budget is scheduled to come forward for approval on February 27 but could be discussed further prior to that.

Short Story Awards – Friday

The Innisfil ideaLAB & Library invites the public to attend the 17th Annual Seepe  Walters Short Story Contest Awards Ceremony.  Friday,  January 25th, 6pm, at Lakeshore Branch, 967 Innisfil Beach Rd., Alcona. 

The contest is named after Seepe Walters, a well-respected and dedicated member of the  Innisfil community until her death in 1995. She was involved in many different facets of Innisfil life, including being one of the founding members of the Friends of the Library.
It is her commitment to the community and her legacy to the library, in particular, that is being remembered through this contest. 

The Seepe Walters Short Story Contest provides the community with a formal opportunity to celebrate literacy through the dedication, creativity, and imagination of Innisfil’s young writers. Innisfil students  in Grades 3-12 were invited to participate in the contest by entering a short story on a topic of their choice.

Award  winning Canadian children’s author, Helaine Becker, promoted the contest in schools in September, helped to judge the entries, and will be returning to Innisfil to MC  the event. From over 100 entries received, 15 stories will be recognized.

The Seepe Walters Short Story Contest is organized by the Innisfil IdeaLab & Library and funded by the Friends of the Library.

Stroud Arena Makeover

The Stroud Arena is an aging structure that will soon be in need of major maintenance. The Town staff has offered the option of restoring and keeping the ice surface in spite of declining use over the past number of years, or repurposing the space for possible other uses. The Stroud arena currently houses the rink, library, and catering hall.

The Parks and Recreation Master Plan published in November 2016 included a summary of “the most pressing actions for the Town of Innisfil to implement in the coming years …” including the following:

Retain the current supply of four ice pads for the next five years after which arena needs should be re-evaluated to determine:

  • If future arena market conditions continue to support four ice pads (due to softening shoulder and weekend demands, changing participation rates, and the City of Barrie’s plans to construct an arena in its south end which has the potential to significantly reduce non-resident rentals in Innisfil);
  • whether one of the single pad arenas should be repurposed, potentially for warm recreational uses; and/or
  • whether to twin the remaining single pad arena or expand the I.R.C. should arena participation rates support such an action.

As the 5 year schedule for action approaches, the Town wants to hear what residents think. Should the Stroud ice rink be refurbished? What other uses should be considered if the Stroud ice rink is no longer a priority? Innisfil residents can offer their views through a survey at: Reimagining the Stroud-Innisfil Community Centre



Innisfil Concert Series

The Innisfil Arts, Culture and Heritage Council (IACHC) is sponsoring a concert series in 2019 in partnership with the Innisfil IdeaLAB and Library. Tickets are available for the series and for individual concerts. A discount is available for active members of IACHC.

All performances are being hosted at the Lakeshore Branch, Innisfil IdeaLAB & Library. Concerts start at 7:30 pm (Doors open at 7 pm). This concert line-up consists of:



  • The Ennis Sisters – April 8, 2019
  • Suzie Vinnick & Rick Fines – June 10, 2019
  • John Prince & The End of The Road – September 23, 2019
  • The Travelling Mabels – November 18, 2019

Read more about these performers at IACHC / events