Celebrate and Contemplate

Next week (July 22) Innisfil Beach Park will be the site for Celebrate Lake Simcoe. It will be in recognition of its importance to our lives and an opportunity to learn about efforts to restore and maintain a clean lake and watershed for this region. Indigenous people will participate this year with a traditional pow wow and displays of their own.

Recent events make it all the more important to celebrate clean water and motivate us to ensure clean water for everyone. The mercury poisoning scandal at Grassy Narrows caused by industrial contamination of the Wabigoon River (up to 50 years ago and continuing today) may be one of the most neglected environmental disasters in history. At the end of June the Ontario government committed $85 million toward clean-up of this “gross neglect”. But a resolution will require more years of effort while almost all members of the Grassy Narrows First Nation exhibit symptoms of some neurological damage.

I’m reminding my readers of this because of an alarming report published in the American Chemical Society Journal and recently described in Science Daily and Clean Technica. One headline reads, “Waste Water from Fracking Pollutes Pennsylvania Watershed”.  Continue reading

‘Our Place’ Public Open Houses

The Town of Innisfil has released Our Place, the Draft Official Plan which lays out objectives, planning policies, zoning and goals for our municipality. Residents have an opportunity to learn more about the plan at 2 drop-in Open Houses:

  • Thursday January 19, Lefroy Arena, 6 – 8 pm
  • Tues. January 24, IdeaLab /Library, Alcona 4 – 8 pm

The report outlines three goals:

  • Grow – “collaboratively develop a thriving community that embraces a managed level of growth, actively engages residents, attracts and supports business and promotes economic prosperity.”
  • Connect – “ensure opportunities exist for residents, businesses and organizations to connect in all ways that are meaningful – physically, socially, culturally and digitally.”
  • Sustain – actively maintain itself as a viable and vibrant community that fully embraces the principles of sustainability.”

Some of strategies for achieving these goals include:  Continue reading

Legislating for Place-Making (3)

My last two articles summarized the Options and Recommendations contained in the Town’s “Draft Policy Directions Report” concerning specific aspects of Place-Making. This last summary covers the report’s discussion of urban intensification and growth management.

Growth Forecast & Intensification Target

The current Official Plan anticipates a population of 56,000 by 2031, about 22,300 more people than in 2011, and about 10,100 residences, including seasonal properties. This growth will take place in Built-up Areas (built-up as of 2006 within a settlement boundary) and in Designated Greenfield Areas (vacant land within a Settlement Area but outside a Built-up Area).

Provincial Policy requires “at least” a third (33%) of growth to take place within a Built-up Area. This is termed urban “intensification”. Most Ontario municipalities make this minimum their intensification target. The Report says, “This target is achievable and will be exceeded.”

While the current Official Plan set a target of 75% low-density housing, the Report’s recommendation is for 70% low-density housing, 20% townhouses, and 10% apartments by 2031.

More Construction Will Shift Toward Lefroy

“With no need to expand settlement areas to accommodate the 2031 population forecasts and as Alcona’s greenfield areas near build out, the residential growth will shift to Lefroy–Belle Ewart and Sandy Cove due to the large amount of greenfield lands in those settlement areas… The majority of infill and redevelopment will be focused in Alcona as set out below in the intensification strategy. Retail growth and expansion will also be focused in Alcona to enhance it as a complete community.”  Continue reading

Yield to Flashing Green Light

GrnEmerg

Photo: niagaraadvance.ca

I was walking on Innisfil Beach Rd a few weeks ago when I saw a fire truck race past with lights and siren on. Almost immediately I saw two vehicles rushing in the opposite direction with a green light flashing on the dashboard. Evidently, the drivers in front of them didn’t realize that the green light indicates that these are volunteer firefighters urgently heading to the fire hall for vehicles and equipment. Fortunately, they did manage to safely pass the cars ahead of them with a brief delay.

New residents to Innisfil may not be aware that volunteer responders are equipped with a green emergency light. If you see a green flashing light in your rear view mirror please pull over immediately and let them pass. Share this information with your new neighbours.

Our Place – Reimagining Our Town

The first public meeting to develop a new Official Plan for the Town of Innisfil was well attended. The Council chambers were virtually full for the opening information presentation. To begin, participants were encouraged to write on a paper-covered wall what they thought made Innisfil an attractive place to live. (It may still be up for view and further notations outside the Council chambers.)

This session then focused on introducing the idea of public spaces, leading to a discussion in groups of how it might apply to our specific neighbourhoods like Alcona or Cookstown or Lefroy. Each group identified specific activities and public space locations that they could envision for their areas.

New York-based consultants introduced the Project for Public Spaces and the concepts behind it. The goal is to design and manage spaces that attract people by encouraging multiple activities and uses through different times and seasons. Periodically, these ‘Our Place’ meetings, social media interactions, and surveys will result in a series of reports that will also be up for discussion. Briefly, I came away with a few overall impressions and some hope for the future: Continue reading

How Would You Spend the Town Budget?

TaxPie15

The Town of Innisfil is inviting residents to complete a survey that allows you to adjust budgeted amounts up or down according to you preferences and comment on why you chose to do so. It can be accessed at We’d Like Your Two Cents

You’ll find a summary of activities performed by each major department such as Roads, Fire Service, Bylaw Enforcement, Administration, etc. For each one, you’ll see a dollar amount budgeted for operations which you can adjust up or down. There is space to comment on your choice for each segment.

When you’re done, the summary provides you with an overall summary of how your choices would impact your tax bill , up or down, in dollars and percent. Finally, you’ll also see a percentage summary of what choices respondents in total made.

Considering how common ‘on the street’ and online complaining seems to be, and this election’s dramatic change in Council members it comes as a bit of a surprise that most survey responders accepted proposed budget amounts ‘as is’ with no changes. Remarkable!