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.


Another Record Year

I have followed a tradition of reporting on the activity of this  blog at the end of the year. 2017 was another record year for activity on this site. There were more than 10,500  views of articles and over 6,000 separate visits.

The big topics in 2017 that attracted the most readers were development plans around the 7th Line, the controversy over a failed proposal to sell InnPower, and the plan to build a health ‘hub’ at the municipal campus.

I look forward to another busy year of sharing my observations and thoughts with readers. Warm wishes to all of you on this very cold New Year’s Eve!



Squirrel in the Kitchen

This article has nothing to do with my purported theme of urbanism. People still seem to love the latest kitchen gadgets and deluxe appliances even though it’s estimated that 50% of American meals and 30% of Canadian meals are prepared outside the home. The latest craze is the multi-purpose Instant Pot, with emphasis on “instant”.

I was also reading about the latest type of apps for cooks that interact with an electronically connected kitchen. Your ethereal electronic assistant can suggest a menu based on what’s in your fridge, or order the ingredients ahead of time, walk you through the prep with video instructions and demos and turn on your oven at just the right moment. Someday it might suggest menu variations based on your food preferences or sensitivities, your exercise tracking, or genetic profile.

Some people claim “recipes are as dead as paper maps” because we have so many food options, cooking styles and regional cuisines. But it seems a bit creepy when a computer knows not just what you ate, but what you’re going to eat.

It was with those thoughts in mind that I started flipping through The Canadian Woman’s Cookbook in the war-time 1941 version updated from the 1927 and 1934 editions. In spite of the name, it was an American publication revised by the Director of the Culinary Arts Institute of Cornell University. It’s one of those old volumes passed along through the family that still had an envelope, a draw ticket, a playing card and other ephemera tucked in between pages of recipes 76 years later.

The 40s don’t seem that far back in the historical past so I was a little surprised by the recipe for “opossum roast”. Further on, there were instructions on how to skin, dress and roast squirrel. I think tastes and more dire circumstances have changed! There were other intriguing concoctions that might be more familiar to New England states such as Indian pudding, Pandowdy and boiled cider pie. In spite of the page markers, I don’t recall this book making much impact on the family table. Ours was dominated by the traditional dishes of my ancestors.

Some recipes may be dead as a practical guide but the cookbook exists as an historical and cultural record (i.e. – “wedding menu”), a glimpse at social norms and tastes (i.e. – “table setting and service”), and ideally for some, as a memory of happy times past.

Snow has fallen, candles are lit, tables are set. No matter how you may choose to celebrate at this time of year, it will undoubtedly be around a table. Let your recipe include the love of family, enjoyment of friends and the creation of new special memories. Wishing my readers all the best …

Wisdom of the Crowd

Believe it or not, “cap and trade” was being debated as an economic policy option way back in my university days. It has only taken a lifetime to implement it in a handful of jurisdictions and the debate still continues.

The real question is what happens with the money, and how effective will it be in addressing the critical climate change issue? (Climate Change Is About to Accelerate Past the Point of No Return, Dec 2016) The opposition party agues for a rebate of a carbon tax directly to households. The current government has taken a different approach.

Now that Ontario has ‘captured’ the revenue from the first auctions of carbon credits the government announced this month that it “will use the proceeds of its cap-and-trade program to establish a fund — called the Green Ontario Fund — through a provincial agency. The program will offer up to a $7,200 rebate for new insulation, up to $5,000 for new windows, and up to $20,000 for new ground source heat pumps.”

Is there a difference to these two approaches? Either way, with cap and trade or a carbon tax, whether or not we see any real change in carbon emissions is still very much up to us. We have to make thousands of individual decisions to do something meaningful in a timely manner.

At least the Green Ontario website presents a menu of funded options for both households and businesses. You’ll notice that some of these programs were previously-existing conservation programs offered by gas distributors and electric utilities (Save on Energy) while others are new provincial programs. Now all conservation programs are grouped together in specific categories: home; small business; organization. But you, the consumer, have to educate yourself about the different opportunities, weigh the relative value of different options (net cost and estimated savings), be motivated to complete an application for your chosen program(s) and select a pre-approved contractor. Hence, I’m giving a little nudge with this free plug for the Green Ontario web site – the government is waving a fist full of dollars your way. They’ve got my attention and maybe yours.

Ontario isn’t the first to tackle carbon emissions. In the UK, a decision was made some years ago to ‘just do it’. An insulation upgrade program simply went street by street, house by house, in a systematic approach that was said to be 90% more efficient than a random installation based on scattered applications. It gave an immediate boost to employment but this approach requires deciding priorities – who’s first and who comes last.

The New Year promises to be a decisive time with a likely tumultuous election in the mix. Will Ontarian homes and businesses be motivated enough by the carbon trade incentives? Will contractors be up to the challenge? Will the total upgrades be good enough and numerous enough to make a meaningful difference in carbon emissions and your payback savings? It’s entirely up to you and the ‘wisdom of the crowd’.

Urbanization Approaching Reality

On Wednesday, December 6, Council formally received a proposal for an eight-story condo with street-front retail. The development is proposed for the north side of Innisfil Beach Road, adjacent to Alcona Home Hardware and west of the corner plaza.


Development Proposal – 828 Innisfil Beach Road

The building would consist of eight floors and 80 residential units. Designed as an adult building for ‘seniors’ aged 55+, the condo units would consist of one and two bedroom layouts. The ground floor would provide a total of about 5,000 square feet of retail space along the street. Parking is situated behind the building in a lot with a landscaped perimeter. In a unique approach to snow management, a snow melter would be utilized to remove accumulations.

In some ways, watching the planning process play out in Innisfil is the municipal equivalent of watching paint dry. The final report of the Inspiring Innisfil Official Plan was released in February 2011. It advocated for an “urban core”. The design guidelines proposed multi-storey zoning in an Innisfil Beach Road commercial zone with retail situated at the street. More than six years later we are just beginning to see this concept take shape. Two other buildings are reaching completion near Adullam Ave., and a multi-storey rental building is expected to receive approval for the south side of Innisfil Beach Rd at the 25th Sideroad.

This development addresses several needs. It provides local accommodation for an aging population (a neighbor has reluctantly moved to Barrie recently); it fills a gap in the streetscape with more convenient local retail and encourages more activity (social and economic) on the street. The condo proposal has been working its way through the planning and approval process since May of 2016 and reached a final proposal of zoning bylaw amendments in November this year. The building proposal was received as ‘information only’. The development will require Council approval of some zoning bylaw amendments concerning height (8 instead of 7 stories) and small changes to setbacks. The developer’s plan comes back to Council for consideration in the spring.

Download PDF:

828 Innisfil Beach Road ZBA & OPA Presentation

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