RVH Wants to Know

It seems like awfully short notice but RVH (officially Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre) is asking for public opinion on five potential sites for a new “south campus”. An online survey is accessible until midnight on Wednesday November 7.

A site selection committee considered issues like access, public transportation, future development and servicing, and potential for expansion in arriving at a short list of five possible locations.

The areas under consideration are:

  • Highway 400 corridor
  • North Stroud area
  • South Stroud/Yonge corridor
  • South Alcona
  • 6th Line & Yonge St. (Cortel development area)

The facility would be developed in stages, beginning with ambulatory care and an outpatient centre “within the next decade”. A full-service hospital may follow in 20 years. The hospital has a web link at RVHPlanourFuture.ca.

Cortel Group ‘donated’ 50 acres in 2009 under the terms that Innisfil would be responsible for recruiting a hospital developer. In 2019 the land reverts to Cortel Group ownership for $1 if the land is not used for that purpose.

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Cap and Hide

The outcome of this year’s provincial election is worrying when the apparent campaign front-runner is basing his pitch on a bizarre distortion of the truth.

Doug Ford says he will abolish the “carbon tax” although we don’t actually have one. In an ideological twist, the Ontario Liberals enacted a market-driven cap and trade system while the suddenly-gone Conservative leader had pledged to introduce an actual carbon tax. I tend to think this now-abandoned policy led to Patrick Brown’s swift and abrupt political demise. The Conservative party has invested years promoting a narrative that all government spending is wasteful and all taxes are evil. Brown’s platform was an abomination to those that bankroll the party. Here’s how they put it: “Ontario’s expensive cap and trade carbon tax  … makes life harder for Ontario families and our economy more uncompetitive … We will put money back in the pockets of Ontario taxpayers and stand up for our job creators.” (Simon Jeffries, Conservative spokesperson, April 16)

Cap and Trade is designed to internalize the cost of carbon into the cost of production instead of pushing it, by default, onto the public. It’s not a tax since manufacturers can reduce, or avoid, the fee by adopting cleaner, carbon-free methods of production. Their choice. The most efficient businesses become the most competitive. Under cap-and-trade carbon emissions in Ontario are projected to decline by 8 to 10 megatonnes by 2020.

In the end, some form of carbon pricing is coming. The federal policy mandates it by the end of this year. Ford says he will fight it – abolish the existing cap and trade, and fight any alternative federal carbon tax. So, how many millions of public money is he willing to flush away on government lawyers and court fights?

Cap and Trade generated $1.9 billion in revenue in 2017 ($2.4 billion to date). Here’s what’s at stake:

  • $377 million allocated to fund energy conservation for households and small –businesses
  • $657 million allocated over 5 years for improvements to social housing apartment buildings
  • $100 million to support municipal energy efficiency and renewable energy
  • $25 million allocated for a Low Carbon Innovation Fund to commercialize new technologies
  • $8 million allocated for an electric school bus pilot program

So what is the possible Conservative alternative under Doug Ford? We don’t know. Are Conservatives giving up almost $2 billion in provincial revenue and dumping the associated conservation initiatives? Does Ford think corporations will take remedial carbon reduction action voluntarily? Will we have a Catastrophic Weather Recovery Fund* instead? If he’s promising “relief is coming” for the ‘little guy’ (but he’d lower only corporate taxes and block the minimum wage increase), will he attack the “Sunshine” List” payrolls or follow the usual route of slashing all government payroll and programs?  Is he proud that Ontario is one of the highest per capita carbon emitting jurisdictions? If not, what’s the plan?

Can Ontario afford to elect someone who wants to ‘cap’ the truth and hide from the consequences?

* Check out: Climate Scientists Warn Tipping Point Is Near

Our Place Plan Nearing Approval

Innisfil Council will consider a staff recommendation to adopt the ‘Our Place’ Official Plan at a Council meeting this Wednesday, January 17 and to take effect subject to approval by the County of Simcoe.

I have previously written about Our Place Plan proposals to create various public gathering and event spaces throughout our town. The Official Plan also covers all of the planning aspects related to development, density, zoning, transportation and so on.

Some of the objectives are:

  • direct the majority of growth to the primary settlement area of Alcona; to direct limited growth to Village settlement areas through intensification and on vacant greenfield lands; to limit growth in Hamlets to infill development.
  • Retail is expected to develop “at an appropriate scale in every primary, urban and village settlement.”
  • Direct higher density residential and mixed uses to the major transit station area surrounding the GO station on the 6th Line …
  • Provide a range of lot sizes and densities, housing types and tenures, provided the scale and massing of development is in keeping with the character of the adjacent neighbourhood.
  • Plan to achieve a minimum intensification target of 33% of all new residential units occurring annually within the delineated built-up areas, or as an alternative target as specified by the County of Simcoe.
  • Protect and maintain stable residential neighbourhoods from infill, intensification and built form which is out of keeping with the physical and heritage character of those neighbourhoods.
  • The progression of development within a settlement area “will be based on a sustainable and logical progression of development in accordance with Provincial County of Simcoe and Town policies.”
  • Neighbourhoods are to be designed with a modified grid street pattern that provides for a high degree of permeability and connectivity …
  • Building design shall incorporate principles of sustainable development and, energy and resource efficiency and may be subject to a sustainable checklist prior to site plan approval …

The full Our Place Official Plan document (429 pages) is available from the Town of Innisfil website.

Managing Growth in Our Place

Previous articles have discussed proposals for Place Making in key areas of Innisfil. The draft Official Plan also discusses how the town intends to direct and manage growth in the coming decades. The growth policy depends on a “settlement hierarchy”:

The settlement hierarchy in Innisfil includes:

  • Alcona as the Primary Settlement Area,
  • Lefroy-Belle Ewart and Sandy Cove as Urban Settlement Areas,
  • Cookstown and Stroud as Village Settlement Areas and
  • Gilford, Churchill and Fennell’s Corners as Hamlets

Growth will be directed to settlement areas based on the hierarchy especially toward Alcona as the “Primary Settlement Area”.

The plan states that, “To facilitate intensification while preserving the character of residential neighbourhoods, Strategic Growth Areas have been identified on Schedule A. The majority of the Innisfil’s intensification will be directed to these Strategic Growth Areas. Otherwise, opportunities for intensification are largely limited to infill on previously undeveloped sites, severance of large lots, and accessory dwelling units.”

The plan’s objectives include (p 36):  Continue reading

Place Making in – Alcona

Placemaking concepts contained in the draft Official Plan, Our Place, for Alcona focuses on the portion of Innisfil Beach Road from Jans Blvd. to Innisfil Beach Park as a “compact and walkable commercial core”.

“With the right mix of commercial and civic uses, active parks and plazas, and opportunities for community gatherings, Innisfil residents will have more reasons to walk.” To that end, suggestions for this area include:

  • “a town square to serve as a gateway to the commercial core of Alcona that could include a coffeehouse, outdoor seating options and a play area visible from the street. Introducing visible activity at the entrance to the commercial district will encourage people to park their cars and explore.”
  • “The parking lot at C.W. Coops is currently underutilized and has the potential to become redeveloped as a semi-enclosed public space with benches and a fountain. Parking can be relocated to the rear allowing for more visible activity on the street.”
  • “a bike/pedestrian loop via roads and trails connecting Alcona to other destinations in Innisfil.”
  • “Strengthen and intensify the corridor by encouraging mixed-use buildings with retail on the ground floor and residential above, fronting the sidewalks. Limit building heights, and consider the architectural treatment of the buildings and storefronts with the goal of enlivening the street and creating an attractive retail
  • “Program the spaces in front of and behind the library to include outdoor activities such as concerts and performances, outdoor reading rooms, art displays, movies, children’s play and small maker fairs or markets.”
  • “Create a teen hangout space with a plaza where the Idea Lab is currently located, providing indoor uses such as a pool hall and coffee bar with unique seating, and outdoor activities that could occur in the area currently occupied by the parking lot such as games, outdoor study areas, an outdoor skate park, and a lounge area.”

Several Place Making ideas extend to Innisfil Beach Park as another focus of community activity:

  • A community garden and outdoor oven to be used by the community for communal dinners, gardening events, plant sales and children’s classes.
  • Beer garden and picnic area
  • An environmental education and welcome centre that functions all year to showcase the ecological assets of the park area and connects to the nature trail along the creek.
  • Waterfront restaurants with outdoor dining
  • A quiet area to sit and relax on hammocks and lounge chairs
  • Opportunities for water activities such as such as canoeing, kayaking, water trampolines and boat rentals, supported by cafes, food kiosks and a beach shop.
  • Provide a complete walking loop around the park that can also be used for cross country skiing in the winter.
  • Transform one of the existing structures into an information and snack kiosk that opens into the park with outdoor seating options near by and located in close proximity to the playground.

Of course, the Official Plan also addresses other vital questions about parks and community spaces, transportation, neighbourhood growth, densities and development, commercial areas, employment areas, sustainability, natural heritage system, “countryside”, and Lake Simcoe shoreline. Policies and proposals in the plan aim to ensure that Innisfil is socially, culturally, physically and digitally connected.

Place Making in – Lefroy / Belle Ewart

My last article introduced the Draft Official Plan for Innisfil and the concept of ‘place making’ in each of the Town’s neighbourhoods. Last week I wrote about concepts proposed for Cookstown. This week, we’ll take a look at proposals for enlivening the core of Lefroy and Belle Ewart:

  • The plan recommends creating a “compact mixed use and retail core along Killarney Beach Road. As one approaches the Church Street intersection, ground floor retail, small restaurants and shops could welcome visitors and strengthen the section of the street leading to the lakefront. The area to the east of Church Street could allow a wide variety of commercial uses with residential above to improve the approach to the water, while west of Church Street, limited commercial uses and offices could be allowed on the ground floor of residential buildings to maintain the residential character. Gaps should be filled with new buildings that recreate the scale, spacing, setbacks, height and character of the existing houses, on both sides of the street.”
  • The recreation centre would be “a vibrant community centre with more programming for residents of all ages, additional opportunities for play, indoors and out, and ice skating in the winter.”
  • “Enhance lake access and the public space at the end of Killarney Beach Road with water related attractions such as boating, boat rental, fishing, beach shops, play areas and restaurants or pop-up food kiosks.”
  • “Maximize opportunities for a mix of uses at the Marina (as the zoning allows for), including restaurants, cafes, information kiosks and small scale shops and a convenience store.”

As the primary settlement area of Innisfil, Alcona has the widest variety of proposed place making sites, focused on Innisfil Beach Road and Innisfil Beach Park. Those will be reviewed in a future article.

The staff report on Our Place is being presented to Council on November 8. It is expected to be received as information with a recommendation that staff report back to Council no later than January 2018 with a Final Draft for consideration.

The staff report says the Our Place Official Plan is “structured around the Connect, Grow, Sustain focus areas of the Inspiring Innisfil community strategic plan … the overall focus of the Our Place Official Plan is to embed place making and to create places and destinations that we can all use and enjoy throughout the year.”

Interested residents can learn more by attending the staff presentation at Town Hall or by accessing documents online at Our Place Innisfil Official Plan.