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.

Democracy is Process

Consideration of all other pressing issues facing residents of Ontario has ground to a halt while the Ontario government pursues an abrupt campaign to reduce the size of Toronto’s city council from 47 to 25 – an action on which he and his party never campaigned.

I wasn’t going to write about it if it was a ‘Toronto’ issue simply concerning the composition of council. In the past I have, myself, speculated about the possibility of reducing the size of Toronto’s city council. But that was in the context of the idea having at least some local advocates, ample public debate, formal examination and then conventional legislative processes.

But it has become a provincial issue of concern to everyone in Ontario because of the premier’s appallingly ignorant comments about elections, democracy, the judiciary and the constitution. It’s clear the premier doesn’t understand at all the concept of a “first minister” in a parliamentary system of government.

He is deluded to think that 40% of the popular vote is a mandate to enact whatever notion enters his head, rather than a limited mandate simply to form a government. Beyond that, he has questioned not just the appropriateness of a judicial decision, but challenged the legitimacy of the entire court system. To top it off, he threatens to repeatedly abuse the constitution by violating the Charter of Rights and Freedoms as a ‘tool’ to advance his agenda – one that we, so far, know very little about beyond empty slogans.

Among the many eminent political voices condemning his unprecedented offensive behavior are Jean Chretien, Roy Romanow, and Roy McMurtry:

“We condemn his actions and call on those in his cabinet and caucus to stand up to him. History will judge them by their silence.”

Here in the riding of Barrie-Innisfil, history will judge Andrea Khanjin, MPP and a local enabler of the premier’s wrecklessness. Just months into the role of Member of Provincial Parliament she has already failed to defend and protect democracy as a process of consultation, review, debate and measured deliberation.

Failure to recognize that democracy is a process, not a dictate, has ensured that virtually every measure of this government is being referred to the courts – at our expense. It will all likely end badly, perhaps more so for the governors than the governed.

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The Luxury of Green Space

Even in somewhat rural Innisfil – that collection of small communities scattered around our agricultural surroundings – people are dissatisfied with the access to some of our green spaces. Resident parking and weekend crowding at Innisfil Beach Park are perennial sore points. Some people even suggest the park should be closed to outside visitors. A few current members-only neighbourhood beaches are the descendants of early cottage associations.

Lake Simcoe shoreline was taken up long ago by private seasonal cottages, which have evolved into much more substantial permanent lakefront residences. So it’s hard to imagine how to achieve more waterfront public space.

The town has recently developed plans to create more “place-making” public spaces with playgrounds, splash pads and skating areas expanding on the rinks, arenas and libraries already in place.

With all of this in mind, I was interested to read an article by the CEO of BILD (Building Industry and Land Development Association) titled, “Where did the money go? Parkland dedication fees should be used to build parks in the GTA”, (David Wilkes, Toronto Star, August 31, 2018).

“Ontario’s Planning Act allows municipalities to require that each new development contribute land for a park, or pay a fee to be used to purchase parkland, or to pay for buildings and machinery for parks or other recreational purposes.”

According to the BILD article, the City of Toronto collected $482 million “cash- in-lieu-of-parkland payments from residential and industrial development” over 10 years (2006 to 2016). In September 2016, $196.4 million (40%) remained unspent in reserves. BILD is upset that there are proposals to increase the parkland fee in “many [Toronto] areas where significant development is happening …”. I’d guess that’s because high-rise development increases surrounding land values and depresses the purchasing potential of accumulated parkland funds.

Do you see a problem here? The whole ‘cash-in-lieu-of’ concept is self-defeating. It is nothing more than a license to fill up urban areas with towers, make potential park sites all the more scarce and impossible to find and shift the burden onto the city. The need for open public space can only be met by a ‘land-for-land’ requirement. A developer should be required to provide the legislated amount of parkland (0.4 hectares per 300 units, in Toronto) either on the proposed building site or at another site acceptable to the city.

The lesson here is that ‘cash now, plan later’ is no substitute for proper planning and zoning up front. And developers have to accept that realistic provisions for parks are an essential part of any development plan. As Mr. Wilkes himself wrote, “When you pay for a park, you should get one …” So far, Innisfil’s plans for ‘place-making’ are a step in the right direction.

Shame & Disappointment

Aftermath (Sep. 6, 2018):

Council voted to accept the Integrity Commissioners’s finding that Mayor Wauchope and Councillor Bill Lougheed violated the Town’s Code of Conduct. Both will forfeit 45 days pay. In a tie vote, Council decided that Councillor Doug Lougheed did not violate the Code of Conduct. He subsequently resigned from Council saying, “I have no interest in serving on a council where people don’t believe me.”  He also deflected blame to senior Town staff: “Certain senior management seem to disregard council’s direction, in attempts to undermine things, and fail to keep council properly informed of important issues.”

Integrity Commissioner’s Report

It hasn’t taken long for news of the Integrity Commissioner’s Report, (from which I am quoting extensively in this article), to spread through town as fast as a wild fire. This is the result of an “Integrity Commissioner investigation into allegations that there had been improper sharing of information from closed meetings of Council, contrary to the Town of Innisfil’s Code of Conduct for Members of Council …”. The investigation was requested by unanimous vote of Council and resolution dated April 18, 2018 following a notice of motion by Councillor Rob Nichol on April 4.

The Leaks

“On the morning of April 4, 2018, Town staff circulated a confidential memo to members of Council with details of the negotiations. Later that day and prior to the closed meeting to discuss the matter, Councillor Loughead advised a Town staff member that he had spoken with an agent for the developer who said that the developer had obtained a copy of the confidential memo.

The Town staff-member called the agent for the developer who talked about the developer’s offer to Town staff. The agent for the developer told the Town staff member that the Town had a “serious leaking problem.” … During the investigation, agents for the developer denied having confidential information and denied being interested in obtaining this information. Given the prior volume of calls between the agents for the developer and elected members, this assertion seemed implausible.”

Summary Finding

Council will review the findings of the Integrity Commissioner on Wednesday, September 5.

“The report concludes that three members of Council fell below the standards set out in the Code of Conduct in their communications with a developer about closed meeting matters.”

“Between January and April of 2018, Council delegated to Town staff the role of negotiating an agreement with a developer in the context of a significant application to the Town. Council’s role was to provide oversight and direction to staff for that purpose. Due to the sensitivity and scope of the matter, Council met a number of times in closed session to provide direction to staff and receive updates. The developer pursued its application through the proper channels with the community and Town staff; however it also cultivated “back channels” of communication with some elected officials in what I [the Integrity Commissioner] concluded was a sustained effort to discover confidential information to assist in its negotiating strategy with the Town.”

“This report makes no findings as to the merits of the development application that was involved. Many felt it was a positive development for the community and this may have been a factor in the willingness of some to help the process along via private communication channels.”

[On May 16, 2018, Council approved an application from Friday Harbour resort to add 1,000 more condo units to the development in addition to the previously approved 1,600 units and 400 hotel rooms. Simcoe County added its approval in July, 2018.] Continue reading

Health Centre Takes Shape

HealthCentre

Innisfil’s new Health & Wellness Centre is quickly taking shape adjacent to Innisfil Recreational Complex at the Town campus and is planned to open in 2019. It consists of 44,500 square feet on two storeys. The facility will include family physicians, a permanent walk-in clinic and diagnostic imaging and lab services. Additional space will be filled by a pharmacy, dental care, naturopath, physiotherapist, mental health and addictions counselling, and a Telemedicine office. Public space will include a community kitchen and space for educational workshops.

The total cost is projected to be $20.3 million with $4.5 million expected from donations. Sandra and Diego Rizzardo, of San Diego Homes, have pledged $2 million. In April, Council approved a plan to build and own the building instead of sharing ownership with physician investors. Medical and pharmacy tenants will enter a 10 year lease agreement, which will return the investment costs to the Town.

Meet Your Candidates

The municipal election takes place on October 22 and campaigning for the positions of Mayor, Deputy Mayor and Councillors will probably begin in earnest in September.

The first thing you should know is that there will be no paper ballots this year. All voting will take place electronically. Votes can be cast either online through the internet or by telephone. Voting begins on October 12 at 10:00 a.m. and continues through to 8:00 p.m. on October 22.

To vote, residents should check first that they are on the voters list by going to: www.voterlookup.ca. This list is managed by MPAC, the group that compiles Ontario property assessment values for municipalities. Next you’ll want to identify candidates running in your Council ward. Innisfil has 7 wards. Go to: www.getinvolvedinnisfil.ca/innisfilvotes2018 to view a map with Innisfil’s ward boundaries.

Now, meet your candidates …

For Mayor

  • Barb Baguley
  • Stan Daurio
  • Lynn Dollin

For Deputy Mayor

  • Paul Best
  • Dan Davidson
  • Steven Fishman
  • Angela Gravelle
  • Henry Kooistra

Candidates & profiles, (Innisfil Votes)

Ward 2 is not being contested and Bill Van Berkel has been acclaimed as Councillor. Candidates for all other wards are on the Official List of Certified Candidates.

What do you think are the most important municipal issues?

Meet Your Neighbours

Innisfil welcomes many new residents every year. With work and family obligations it may be difficult to meet neighbours or engage more widely with your community. To help address this, the Town of Innisfil is hosting a series of “Neighbourhood Nights” to help new and old residents get acquainted. The evening includes “games and activities for all ages”.

The first Neighboorhood gathering was held on August 1 in south Alcona. All of the Neighboorhood Nights take place from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Three more are scheduled for Wednesday evenings at 6:30 p.m.:

August 15 – Gilford (Shore Acres Dr. & Neilly Rd.)

August 22 – Stroud (Dempster Park)

September 12 – Alcona (Nantyr Shores Secondary School)

Innisfil Journal also reports that a new resident of Innisfil, Sonia DaSilva, is also sponsoring a Community Potluck, on her own initiative, in Alcona on Saturday, August 25 at Innisfil Lions Hall (Innisfil Beach Rd) starting at 1:00 pm. Those attending are asked to bring their favourite dish.