Mapping the Future

The last major Official Plan, Inspiring Innisfil, was released in February 2011. It focused on a strategy of creating a stronger community identity, linking scattered neighbourhoods, focusing on development of an urban centre, developing tourism assets, business development and retention, and heritage preservation.

This past week saw the release of Innisfil’s latest Official Plan review, Our Place which will guide development and employment to 2031. It proposes the development of numerous public spaces, gathering places, and commercial clusters to enliven each of our neighbourhoods as places to meet, play, entertain and thrive. It proposes uses for Innisfil Heights employment lands.

I have not had a chance to review it thoroughly but will be discussing many of these ideas in future postings. I think that many Innisfil residents will be intrigued, if not excited, about many of the creative ideas suggested for their area.

To begin consultations, a public Open House is being held on Wednesday, November 1 from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. at Town Hall to inform residents and receive comments. This will be followed by a public meeting at Town Hall on Wednesday, November 8 at 6:30 p.m.

Residents should download the Official Plan documents to learn the specific proposals for their neighbourhood and for major Town locations such as libraries, Innisfil Beach Park and the Town municipal campus.

Our Place Official Plan Documents
email comments: ourplace@innisfil.ca
An online survey will also be made available on the Town website.

 

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Innisfil Opens a Walk-In Clinic

Improved access to local health care is another step closer with the opening of a walk-in health clinic scheduled to open on November 1 in temporary quarters at the Town Hall. Medical services will be provided by Barrie and Community Family Medicine Clinics (BCFMC) and Ontario Telemedicine Network. Clinic hours are posted online. The clinic services will eventually move to a permanent medical facility currently being planned.

Transportation to the walk-in clinic at Town Hall can be obtained through the Town’s pilot Uber transportation service with a fixed rate of $3.00 to and from the Town campus. For the first two weeks (Nov. 1 to 14) of clinic operation, Uber transportation to the clinic will be free with a promotional code through the Uber app.

The Town is a major contributor to the pending construction of a permanent “Health Hub” to be built on the Town ‘campus’. In a collaboration with Innisfil Health Partners and the Stroud Medical Centre, Innisfil will provide funding for a new 44,500 square foot facility that will include space for public meetings and education.

The Town of Innisfil is contributing an interest-only (2.75%) loan of $5.4 million as a partner in the project and a $10.1 million mortgage to finance construction. According to an earlier press report, the town will have “partial ownership and control of Innisfil Health Partners Inc. (IHP), which will operate the building”. The intention is to recover debenture costs through rental of “community space” in the Hub.

When operational, the Health Hub will offer access to family doctors, a walk-in clinic, x-ray and lab services, a pharmacy as well as an Ontario Telemedicine Network (OTN) video conferencing facility to allow secure consultation with medical specialists anywhere in Ontario.

The Health Hub is expected to alleviate the burden of lengthy travel and waiting times for Innisfil residents needing a wide variety of medical services. It will also be available to the seasonal population of Friday Harbour Resort.

Our Creative Side

Lately, I have become a member of the Innisfil Arts, Culture, and Heritage Council (IACHC). Excuse me if I just refer to it here, in the broadest sense, as the ‘Arts Council’. It has allowed me to glimpse Innisfil’s creative side and meet or learn about some talented local artists, designers, authors, film-makers and performers.

The activities of our creative community sometimes pass a little under the radar and don’t always receive the attention they deserve. So, from time to time I’m going to write about a project that I think readers would appreciate knowing about. Here’s an opportunity coming in October in preparation for Cookstown’s annual Light Up Night – a traditional Cookstown celebration that kicks off the Christmas season:

Lanterns

A Light Up Lantern Workshop is being led by artist, Christina Luck, and theatre designer, Bev Cully. This is a “workshop where participants will learn to construct a sturdy lantern frame & techniques for applying paper covering, decorating and finishing.” Participants will make a “glowing stick and paper lantern”. If they bring their creation to this year’s Light Up Night, it should be extra bright and cheerful! [Cookstown – November 25, tree lighting at 6:00 pm & parade at 6:30].

This workshop consists of two Sunday sessions on October 15 and 29 (10 am to 12:30 pm) in Cookstown. The workshop is open to all ages – teens, adults and children accompanied by a parent. The two sessions and required materials are provided for a fee of $25 per person. Space is limited.

Cookstown’s Light Up Night seems like a good opportunity to throw a little light into the darkness of winter and the world. To register for the Lantern Workshop contact: christinajluck@icloud.com

Commercial at the Core

A new building under construction on the south side of Innisfil Beach Road is the first development to follow the design guidelines set out under the Inspiring Innisfil 2020 Official Plan. It is a multi-story, mixed-use building that fronts the sidewalk.

IBR02

The original signage on the property indicated it would be a medical building. The current signage only indicates leasing availability. It remains to be seen what final form this development will take and whether it is the start of a new approach to Alcona development or whether it will be an anomaly on the street.

Meanwhile, the development proposal for the Abendel property on the north side of Innisfil Beach Road seems to have stalled or collapsed. Old signage has been left to deteriorate. Nothing further has occurred since the additional purchase of Scotty’s Towing, which is boarded up. This was originally proposed to be yet another strip mall with the addition of a bank building and a fast-food franchise. Local resident opposition blocked earlier proposals for a residential tower and townhouses on part of the property.

Over at the 25th Sideroad and Innisfil Beach Road, the corner property has also been idle for the summer in spite of reported OMB approval for a proposed multi-story seniors condo with ground-floor retail and a banner proclaiming, “great things are happening”.

After the departure of Lakeside Treasures this summer, 1041 Innisfil Beach Road also sits idle. This property has a history of frequent tenant turnover. A rezoning notice appeared briefly this summer for a “one story commercial” building before being taken down.

At the western end of Alcona, a new housing tract is advancing toward the northern edge of the No Frills parking lot and a new building is taking shape near the supermarket, expected to be another fast-food franchise.

The Centreville plan in Stroud is advancing. Land severance has been approved for single detached housing on the north side of the property. Townhouses, a gas station, convenience store and strip mall form the rest of the project.  A ‘hold’ designation remains on actual construction until final design plans are approved.

In late 2011, the Retail Demand Study found that 2/3 of all resident expenditures were made outside of Innisfil. It suggested that with further residential growth, it would present an “expenditure potential” of over $400 million by 2021. More than 5 years later, it appears that potential for local shopping will be difficult to realize for many more years to come. For the uninitiated, it’s difficult to understand what hurdles are preventing an obvious opportunity from being realized.

Intensification, Sprawl & the OMB

The province is currently reviewing the future of the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) so it was interesting that the builder’s association (BILD) came to it’s defense in a recent article (Ontario Municipal Board not to blame for intensification, Brian Tuckey, March 25):

“Some people mistakenly blame OMB decisions for the intensification that we have experienced across the GTA … The reality is that intensification is actually the result of provincial policy and the OMB makes its decisions based on that provincial policy, including the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, using submissions made by experts in land planning and development… If municipalities, local politicians or members of the public feel there is too much intensification in the GTA, then the remedy lies with the province and its policies — not with the building industry or the OMB.”

I wish it were that simple. We tend to get too much intensification in places where it is already heavily populated, like downtown Toronto. And provincial policy has only led to more dense forms of suburban housing (smaller single lots and townhouses) on the fringes of existing towns instead of as infill or redevelopment in the core. The OMB has garnered a lot of resentment because the Board tends to favour developers in 60% or more of cases according some analyses. The threat of a developer’s appeal to the OMB can sway a Council because of certain factors:

  • The cost to an individual of presenting ‘expert’ witnesses to this quasi-judicial body is estimated to range between $35,000 and $80,000. I’m guessing if municipal legal staff are involved, it could be a lot higher.
  • An appeal at the board begins “from new”, (de novo) meaning, “as if the developers application had just been tabled, disregarding the Municipalities report or decisions by the Municipalities Planning Committee or City Council … it invites the Developer to table what they really wanted vs. what the City approved or refused. ” (Think twice about appealing to the OMB, July 2014)

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Places to Grow – in Barrie

McKayPlan1

A public meeting tomorrow in Barrie (council chambers, 7:00 pm) is further proof that Ontario’s Places to Grow strategy to limit urban sprawl is a failure – at least in Simcoe County. It also confirms that Barrie is a city without boundaries and an insatiable appetite for greenfields.

McKayPlan2

“The lands are designated Highway 400 Industrial/Business Park within the City’s Official Plan and are currently zoned Agriculture (AG) in accordance with Zoning Bylaw 054-04 (Innisfil). The owner has applied to amend the current zoning of the property to Highway 400 Industrial with Site Specific exceptions …”  Continue reading