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Collective opinions of the community

A Message from Doug Shipley, MP

In 2017 Environment and Climate Change Canada began the process of drafting and implementing a new Clean Fuels Standard targeted at industries and consumers, to meet a global commitment to net-zero emissions.

The Liberal government claims they have consulted with provincial, territorial, and industry stakeholders on the development of the Clean Fuels Standard.

However, recently I received a letter from the Township of Springwater and the Mayor’s office expressing their concern with the implementation and the negative impact new regulations will have on local farmers, including their ability to use their land as well as potential market share loss.

Farmers and agriculture industry associations highlighted the Land Use Biodiversity criteria. When drafted it was suspected that upwards of 90 percent of farms in Ontario could potentially be non-compliant.

This would put local farmers at a severe disadvantage to non-domestic farmers and would result in a drop in market position and significant revenue losses.

Recently, Environment and Climate Change Canada pivoted and is now proposing a “net national land use expansion model”. This implies that if there is no net land use expansion “all Canadian farmers would be deemed eligible and under compliance with the regulations.” Source: Ontario Grain Farmers

While there seems to be movement in the right direction there is still cause for concern with respect to the full development and implementation of the regulations. Environment and Climate Change Canada has indicated they will continue to meet with interested parties to gather additional stakeholder input.

The government is aiming to have regulations drafted by late 2021 with implemented by December 2022.

I encourage farmers, townships and municipal organizations with a vested interested to reach out to Environment and Climate Change Canada and provide feedback and comments on the pending regulations and the impact it will have on farms.  You can reach them by calling: 1-800-668-6767 or emailing: ec.enviroinfo.ec@canada.ca

If you require further assistance please do not hesitate to contact my office, my staff and I will be more than happy to assist you.

Sincerely.

Doug Shipley

Member of Parliament

Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte

Mayor Don’s Update: April 29, 2021

COVID-19 Restrictions

As you are likely aware, the Province imposed stricter Stay-at-Home Restrictions on April 16. As a result, the following municipal services and facilities are affected:

All Township facilities remain closed to the public. Staff are available to provide assistance by phone and email. Contact information is available at www.springwater.ca/contact

All Township of Springwater sports fields, basketball courts, tennis courts, pickleball courts, outdoor fitness equipment and outdoor pavilions are currently closed to the public. Playgrounds will remain open for public use, as per the updated Provincial announcement on Saturday, April 17, 2021. Be advised that playground equipment is not sanitized. Please maintain 2 metres of physical distancing when using playground equipment.

Building inspections that do not meet provincial criteria will be suspended.

The Springwater Public Library will continue to offer curbside service to residents.

For additional information on the provincial Stay-at-Home Order measures and restrictions visit the provincial website at Ontario.ca/covid19

COVID Vaccines

The vaccine eligibility information continues to change quickly. I encourage you to check the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit website(www.smdhu.org/covid19) often to determine if you are eligible for a vaccine at this time.

Shine Green for Children’s Mental Health Week

The week of May 3-9 marks Children’s Mental Health Week in Ontario. In partnership with New Path Youth & Family Services, the Township of Springwater will be ‘shining green’ in support of children’s mental health. The Township Administration Centre will be lit up in green throughout the week as the colour green represents hope, growth and transformation .By raising awareness we can decrease the stigma around mental health and encourage children to access the supports they require.

This year has been especially challenging for many youths, as their routines have been disrupted time and time again. Many do not know where to go for assistance or support when struggling with their mental health.

New Path is currently offering call-in, in-person and virtual mental health services for children, youth and their families in Simcoe County. A range of free mental health services are offered by professional counsellors. Families can access a range of free counselling and therapy services by calling or emailing New Path at 705-725-7656.

Community Garden       

Council has approved a pilot project for an allotment community garden at Bishop Park in Elmvale. Allotment gardens are a type of community gardening where individuals or groups rent a garden plot on a seasonal basis to grow produce.

Interested in participating? The Township oversees the administration and registration of the garden plots. The Community Garden will be open from May 1 to October 31 each year. The plot preparation, extra soil or manure materials, tools, operation and maintenance of the community garden will be the responsibility of the applicant. A single plot is $10 +HST / annually and residents are encouraged to apply for a plot online at www.springwater.ca/CommunityGarden

The Township is also seeking individuals interested in operating and maintaining the community garden. For more information visit www.springwater.ca/CommunityGarden

Cannabis Production Facility Study Update

Staff presented a working session on April 21 to provide information on the draft Cannabis Production Facility policy and obtain comments from Council prior to a public meeting scheduled for May 31 at 6:30 p.m. The proposed amendments would update the Official Plan and Zoning By-law with policies regarding permissions and regulations for Cannabis Production Facilities.

The proposed Official Plan Amendment (OPA) would permit federally licensed cannabis cultivation and processing on lands designated ‘Agricultural’; require licensed Cannabis Production Facilities to be subject to Site Plan Approval; and identify the criteria to be met for the approval of Cannabis Production Facilities

The proposed Zoning By-law Amendment (ZBA) would permit federally licensed cannabis cultivation and processing as-of-right within the Agricultural (A) Zone. In addition, to permit federally licensed indoor cannabis cultivation and processing by way of site-specific rezoning in the General Industrial/ Inside Storage (MI), and General Industrial/ Outside Storage (MO) Zones, subject to meeting the applicable zoning provisions.

Comments on the proposed OPA and ZBA are welcome. Written submissions are recommended and can be made by e-mailing planning@springwater.ca; by regular mail  to Township of Springwater, Planning Department, 2231 Nursery Road, Minesing, ON L9X 1A8 or by the drop box located at the Administration Centre.

Federal Gas Tax and Top-Up Funding

To assist municipalities in preparing for the economic recovery from the pandemic, the Federal government has announced additional one-time top-up of Federal Gas Tax Funding. The Township of Springwater received an additional top-up allocation of $581,084.

The top-up will be allocated towards the following road reconstruction projects:

Golf Course Road              $187,000;

Old Orchard Road              $75,000;

Portage Trail                                   $75,000;

Pineview Avenue               $15,000;

Peacher Street                    $15,000;

Lawrence Road                  $75,000;

Dobson Road South           $45,000

Staff will review the Road Needs Study and provide options to Council at a later date for the remaining $94,084.

Federal Grant for Student Positions

The Township received the good news from MP Doug Shipley, that we have been federally funded for 32 student positions this summer. The total grant the Township has received this year is $95,782.20, which is one of the largest amounts granted. The funding will cover positions in Roads and Fleet, Parks and Facilities, Day Camps, By-law Enforcement, and Building Services.

Additional Residential Units

Council approved a Zoning By-law Amendment regarding additional residential units within the Township of Springwater. The new policies are consistent with the Provincial Policy Statement, the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe and complies with the Official Plans for the County of Simcoe and Township of Springwater. Allowing for additional residential (second suites) will increase the supply of affordable living accommodations within the Township.

Please contact the Planning Department at planning@springwater.ca for information regarding zone provisions and permissions for additional residential units.

These comments reflect my thoughts and not necessarily those of council.

Stay safe.

My View – Bill French

Springwater Secondary Residential units – Approved!

I congratulate Council on the approval of secondary residential units on most properties. With the high cost of housing today, this is an opportunity for new or retiring families to remain on properties that have been owned by families for many years. Each lot, assuming it can meet the conditions, such as servicing and setbacks, can have two additional residential units. One has to be part of the main residential unit and the other in an accessory building. In either case the secondary units cannot be more than 40% of floor space of the primary residential unit. If you have a larger home on a large lot, you can effectively have two units if I stayed under the 1200 square foot limit in each. However, before getting too excited, if you live in one of the new subdivisions, there is a 90% chance this new bylaw won’t apply as many new residential units, being larger in size in new developments, are at the lot coverage limit. For those that can accommodate these units, remember, down the road you cannot sever the extra unit at some time and cash in. I have fully supported this concept and it will provide some much needed housing.

Extreme Off-Road Vehicles on Roads?

Just over a year ago Council approved a pilot program to allow Side by Side UTV’s and ATV’s on Township Roads. When I was on Council there was a request to do that and we had a number of open houses on the subject as it is both a blessing for the riders and a curse for those that live close by well travelled roads near trail heads.

I had suggested a “toe in the water” approach which was to allow riders to travel from their homes to the closest trail head, travel to restaurants and gas stations close to trails, but this Council decided to open it up. I am not sure how it has worked out but I know there are a lot more ATV’s and dirt bikes on my road than ever before and most have no plates, travel well over the speed limit and are definitely not sporting stock muffler systems. What complicated the matter more is there are very few police patrols in the Township as Policing, except for some speed monitoring from time to time, is non existent. I know the bylaw amendment is meant to grant dirt bikes and 6 and 8 wheel Argo type vehicles with the same privileges as ATV’s, UTV’s and Side by Sides. I think the definition opens a can of worms.

(“Extreme terrain vehicle” means an off-road vehicle, that,

(a) Has six or eight wheels, the tires of which are all in contact with the ground,

(b) Has no tracks that are in contact with the ground,

(c) Has seats that are not designed to be straddled, and

(d) Has a minimum cargo capacity of 159 kilograms).

Is not a dually pickup or an old army vehicle with 6 or more wheels an extreme vehicle by the bylaw’s definition? This bylaw needs a maximum weight, width and length definition or it will be a nightmare. The local clubs do a great job at monitoring and policing their members, but the influx of GTA riders is becoming its own pandemic when it comes to riding these vehicles on our roads and trails. I guess we will see what happens.

Federal Budget-Where is the Budget Fairy?

As I predicted a year ago, by the end of this year we will have in fact almost doubled the National Debt in a short time period to just shy of $1.5 Trillion dollars. We have also went from a “Debt to GDP” ratio of around 45% in a slow growing economy to over 100% in a recessed economy. Canada now rivals the USA in debt ratios.

Discussing concern about debts seems to fall on deaf ears regardless of political stripes. In two years we will have accumulated what took us 154 years to create in the past. In modern terms we are taking on roughly 100 years of a typical annual operating deficit in two fiscal years. I have found no one to explain how this will all work out in the end and how we can recover. I am shocked at the short sightedness of all of us in these times of COVID-19. It appears that we are all waiting for the budget fairy to solve our monetary crisis, because our Federal and Provincial Leaders seem to have no idea how to do it. I have an idea that stems from the good old days, before the budget fairy, when you ran out of money. Tighten your belt, cut your spending, don’t commit to any new spending you can’t afford (paid sick days, paid babysitting and environmental programs such as a carbon tax), and then see what happens. I guess that is too complicated! I have a lot more to say with the changing status of COVID-19, but will save it for another article. However, I have a question. Why has New Zealand and Australia been able to control COVID-19 so well? Do some reading and you will be shocked at the simple approach they took from the beginning.  In the meantime, lets do what we can by Wearing a Mask, Keeping Physical Distance and Sanitizing and consider seriously taking the vaccine if you are able.  I have followed the Barrie Meridian Place lockdown protests. I fully support their right to protest and the peaceful nature in which they have conducted themselves so far. However, if you want to be credible, at least follow the three aforementioned COVID health safety practices and more people will support you. By not doing so you become part of a problem rather than part of a solution.  Again, please remember these are my thoughts and I am not asking you to agree. I respect your freedom of expression and encourage you to SPEAK UP, before that freedom is taken from us!! This is already happening in Social Media and is worsening each day!

Bill French is a seasoned business leader with over 40 years experience and served in senior positions of International Enterprises. Bill served as Mayor of Springwater and a County of Simcoe Councillor from 2014 to 2018 and has taught business at the college level for over 15 years. You can also read these articles on line at http://springwatercitizens.blogspot.com/