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County councillors put overriding Official Plan in play

Posted September 13, 2017

Simcoe County councillors approved pushing forward with a regional Municipal Comprehensive Review (MCR) yesterday, in committee, that will cost an estimated $800,000, add two positions to the planning department, and take approximately two years to complete. Additionally, it could delay Official Plan (OP) updates currently underway at the lower tiers, including in New Tecumseth.

The MCR is the precursor to a regional official plan that goes beyond a County OP that factored in the lower tier plans, so long as they conformed to the provincial policies.

In this case, an amendment to the Provincial government's Growth Plan, 2017, uploaded authority for MCR's to upper tiers. In the past, MCR's were a requisite of municipal OP's.

For the first time, Simcoe County's MCR requirements will include at least 11 technical components:
  • watershed plans
  • settlement area hierarchy criteria (this process will establish which communities will receive growth allocations as not all settlements may get growth allocation. This process will also remove some settlement area designations from the County OP)
  • an employment strategy
  • a sewer and water servicing analysis and assimilative capacity analysis
  • financial considerations and scenario testing
  • an intensification strategy
  • setting Designated Greenfield Area targets across the County
  • land needs assessment
  • agricultural system and natural heritage system mapping prepared by the Province
  • a housing strategy
  • a climate change strategy
New Tecumseth is one of the identified primary settlement areas. As well, the Town is under pressure from development speculators to expand the settlement areas to permit residential development between Alliston and Beeton, and Beeton and Tottenham.

On Monday night, New Tecumseth councillors voted to not only cooperate with the County's MCR, but Ward 3 councillor Paul Whiteside again linked our water and wastewater infrastructure as a possible regional entity. As well, council voted to continue forward with the local OP update despite the County's cautions that it could be delayed pending the MCR.

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All stories, unless otherwise noted,
by Tony Veltri