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Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

To Editor, Please print this letter so people are aware.

To: Anita Moore, Ward 4 Councillor, Springwater Township C.c. Jennifer Coughlin, George Cabral, Matt Garwood, Danielle Alexander, Brad Thompson & Phil Fisher

I have been a resident of Springwater Township (formerly Vespra) since 1963.

I have dealt with councils for both building and development for over 40 years.

We first restored and then developed the old Varcoe Gravel pit located behind the former Chay radio station located south of Findlay Mill Road to Glen Echo across from Currie Trucks.

This land is in excess of 100 acres of abandoned gravel pit which we restored for 5 years before development could occur.  We then went on to develop in excess of a 785 residential lots in Springwater Township.

Currie’s lands were also a gravel pit which has been restored.

Ken O’Brien was a councillor during the time of our first development and he was involved with Vespra at the time of the Barrie annexation.

Our area is in desperate need of industrial serviced lands and employment areas.

A couple of years ago we gave Springwater the opportunity to develop industrial land which it is in desperate need.

At the time, we had approximately 75 acres along Wilson Drive and Sunnidale Road which we had the ability to service immediately.

This would have created in excess of 350 million dollars investment in industrial opportunities along with development charges and tax revenue.  It would also create in excess of 1200 higher income job opportunities.

It is very unfortunate that yourself and 3 other councillors from the previous council voted to change the procedure and we were forced to withdraw our formal deputation.

Before this, yourself, the Deputy Mayor, Mayor and two other councillors were all onboard and enthused with this opportunity.

Before our deputation to council was presented it was indicated to us that Perry Ritchie and yourself were no longer in support which forced us to withdraw our deputation as it couldn’t be presented a second time to council.

It is very unfortunate because Barrie now has no choice but to annex land for industrial development.

You should take a very good read of what Ken O’Brien has to say about Barrie’s previous annexation.

He is 100% correct that the ministry will legislate an expansion and Springwater will lose the negotiating opportunity as to boundaries and compensation.

You need to quit trying to fight something that you’re going to lose along with hundreds of thousands of Springwater tax dollars.

Join the party and get the best for Springwater that you can.

You’ve already lost mega millions of dollars worth of investment in Springwater which includes TNR DOORS which has now located in Oro Medonte.  TNR DOORS waited over 2 years to locate in Springwater and had no choice but to locate elsewhere.  We had 5 other companies who expressed serious interest in locating at our Springwater location.

I am attaching the letter from Ken O’Brien that was in Barrie Today referring to council of the day trying to stop Barrie’s annexation at a horrendous taxpayer cost and valuable time.  As

Mr. O’Brien states, council should have been negotiating for better terms.

Present annexation is inevitable.

The township does not have to hire a consultant to give council a history lesson.  There are people you can consult with, free of charge, without wasting taxpayer dollars.

Why would you spend our taxpayer money on this?

As a side note, our companies are one of the largest taxpayers in Springwater Township.  Please do the right thing and negotiate the best deal possible for Springwater while you’re still able to.

The previous maps that have been presented in Barrie Today are incorrect and do not represent the true scope of the annexation.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

Brian Smith


Dear Springwater News Editor

I am fed up with seeing the antics of Springwater Council appearing as headlines in Barrie Today, the online newspaper and elsewhere. I have several specific concerns to share.

Before I do however, I want to commend my Council Rep, Matt Garwood, who has been professional, supportive of our Mayor and has taken the time to understand the issues that we are concerned about.

Issue #1

Jennifer Coughlin is our Mayor. She won the position handily. As a first term Mayor she deserves the support and understanding of council colleagues. She provided former Mayor Don Allen when she was Deputy Mayor. Sadly that is not what we are seeing.

Issue #2

Tony Guergis. I am so stunned by this development. Counsellor Anita Moore presented a motion to hire former Mayor Tony Guergis to provide the current Council with some history. There is no one else who could fill this role as advisor? Guergis earned the Worst Municipal Councillor in Canada Award in 2009 “for flip-flopping on the issue (of Site 41), then ignoring overwhelming public sentiment and attempting to force the construction of a landfill, Site 41, on top of a watershed that supplies fresh drinking water for as many as four million people”.  Guergis had his chance to be a leader in Springwater Township and he failed miserably. The motion to hire Guergis was then supported by Deputy Mayor Cabral and Councillors Phil Fisher, and Danielle Alexander. Whether or not Mr Guergis has experience in annexation or boundary projects (and it appears he does not) he should never have been considered for any role unless he wants to run in an election. Approving this motion is the ultimate insult to the people of Springwater, some of whom gave their hear and soul to protect our water supply and were then betrayed by Guergis. These councillors should be ashamed.

Issue #3

The ongoing attacks on the Springwater Library, Library Board, staff and users. Here are some facts:

  1. Springwater Council appoints Library Board members including a member of Council
  2. Springwater Council approves the Library Budget
  3. Public libraries in Ontario are governed by the Ontario Public Libraries Act which lays out how libraries are to be operated. A copy of the Act is available online and the Bylaws the board follows are found on the Library website. The information can be accessed easily.

The statements that some council members have made about the Library being fiscally irresponsible are laughable. If the last ten years of headlines regarding Ontario municipalities and libraries are any indication, it is elected officials and occasionally municipal staff, who play fast and loose with taxpayers money, not library staff.

So, with all the control Springwater Council holds over library matters, what could Council possibly want? Are they still struggling with the fact that the Library aims to be a safe, open space for all citizens?

Interestingly, Springwater Council has decided to support a dead end motion that Simcoe County Council passed two years ago in a fit of pique when they made a bad financial decision regarding cooperative library services and then mistakenly posted a confidential report on their own website for all to see.  Clearly the Province saw the County motion for the absolute nonsense it was and chose not to entertain the motion. But now Springwater Council, with a motion from Counselor Alexander has decided to waste staff time flogging this dead horse.

Please, please Councillors Moore, Cabral, Fisher and Alexander, turn your attention to the many issues that matter in our township. If you have forgotten what those are, find out.

Katherine Wallis, Elmvale


We do not need a consultant. We simply need to provide direction to the Mayor and Staff.

Springwater Staff do not have direction from Council that would provide information pertaining to any sort of counteroffer or negotiation to the City of Barrie’s initial proposal. Springwater CAO, and previous CFO, who has been with the township for over a decade – does not have direction to provide a path forward to Council. Instead of relying on relevant knowledge and expertise – which we have inhouse, we have hired a consultant who is going to tell us what? To direct Staff to provide Council with information pertaining to negotiations with the City of Barrie?

The current direction from Council states: “That Council hereby terminate discussions between the City of Barrie regarding the City’s proposal for boundary adjustments, and they be so advised”.

As Mayor – my hands are tied. I cannot discuss boundary adjustments with Mayor Nuttall without breaching my Oath of Office. Council has affirmed the commitment to NOT discuss – and therefore not be at the table, and I have a duty to uphold the decisions of Council.

September 13, 2023 – Deputy Cabral, Springwater CAO and myself met with Mayor Nuttall and City of Barrie and requested they present to Council as a whole.

September 28, 2023 – Council received a closed session presentation.

November 7, 2023 – “Township of Springwater staff and Council will continue to perform a rigorous evaluation on the proposal to ensure that the interests of Springwater residents are considered and remain the highest priority. To ensure transparency regarding this matter, Springwater Council will be deliberating this matter further during the November 15, 2023 regular meeting of Council in open session”

November 15, 2023 – “That Council hereby terminate discussions between the City of Barrie regarding the City’s proposal for boundary adjustments and cross border servicing, and they be so advised.”

January 18, 2023 – Meeting with Minister Calandra, who advised that a local solution is desired by the Province.

March 6, 2024 – Council was asked to reconsider the decision from four months ago and to get back to negotiations with the City of Barrie. The direction I received was that negotiations regarding cross border servicing are permitted, however boundary adjustments cannot be discussed.

March 19, 2024 – Deputy Cabral, Springwater CAO and myself met with Mayor Nuttall and the City of Barrie to determine a path forward that involves servicing from the City of Barrie, with no adjustments to the boundary of Springwater. Mayor Nuttall assured us that without boundary adjustments there would be no cross border servicing.

April 3, 2019 – Council hired a consultant.

Hiring a consultant does not change the current direction of Council.

We do not need a consultant, we need to give transparent direction and get back to the table.

Jennifer Coughlin, Mayor, Township of Springwater


The province has been clear, a local solution is preferred. I believe it is our responsibility to ensure that the interests of Springwater residents remain the highest priority. The highlighted need for employment land is growing and we cannot wait for the province to step in and decide for us.

Matt Garwood, Ward 1 Councillor, Township of Springwater


From the start of these conversations, I have stated we should be at the discussion table when the future of our township is being discussed. These discussions should be open, transparent and should include public consultation.

I am aware of three significant benefits to our Township from Barrie’s proposal. 1. Cross border servicing for some of our upcoming projects and servicing for our industrial lands. 2. Environmental protection of Little lake and headwater of Willow Creek. 3. Revenue sharing. Described as the largest compensation plan from one municipality to another in the history of our province. Barrie has offered 10% tax revenue sharing of any new taxes created from this endeavor and has estimated the cross-border servicing agreement they are offering will add an additional 8 million dollars annually to our coffers.  I can see away forward with this discussion where both the City of Barrie and The Township of Springwater WIN.

Brad Thompson, Ward 3 Councillor, Township of Springwater


As I was not on Council last term when your questions below were addressed, I cannot speak to those. I did however, speak to Mr. Smith letter during last week’s meeting and I will stand by what I said about the direct quotes from Mr. Smith’s letter:

“Present annexation is inevitable” – Annexation is not inevitable. It is our job as a Council to develop a plan of how we move forward and fight for Springwater.

“The previous maps that have been presented in Barrie Today are incorrect and do not represent the true scope of the annexation.” – I do question how Mr. Smith is aware of another map, while this Council is not. If there are other maps Mr. Smith is aware of, I would hope he would be bringing those to Council to ensure we understand the true scope.

Speaking for myself, this conversation is 100% about how we consolidate our efforts and fight to keep Springwater lands in Springwater.

Danielle Alexander, Ward 2 Councillor, Township of Springwater


The people of Springwater need to be highly alarmed when it comes to talk of a Barrie boundary conversation.

Loss of significant tax revenue, both presently, and in the future should also be of concern. We are undertaking some large projects in our municipality, and we have present infrastructure to maintain. Examples of this are the Craig Road the new recreation center. Even the arena in Elmvale could be a questionable expense if tax revenues drop and expenses rise. We will need the tax revenue to support this infrastructure, and we will need the continued growth in Springwater to support them into the future.

Many people are not aware that Springwater is boundary extended to Cundles Road in Barrie at one time. What we are experiencing now is the further erosion of our municipality. My justifiable fear is that once our municipality is no longer economically viable, we will cease to exist.

When large portions of our municipality disappear, and no longer pay taxes, we will also lose the ability to develop areas that are of importance to us. We will lose planning and site control over properties that once were ours. There will be large, environmental concerns, and the guaranteed loss of agricultural lands.

There are some in Springwater, who believe that a Barrie land grab is inevitable and that we have no sovereignty. I am completely opposed to this view. Just this last summer we saw strong opposition to our present provincial government building in the Greenbelt. With that strong opposition, we saw a complete reversal from our provincial government’s plans. This just goes to show that people who show concerned can enact change. This change, of course was for the better and we can do the same here in Springwater. Barrie presently has many acres of industrial land ready to be developed in the south end of Barrie. There is no justifiable need for them to expand into our municipality.

I am becoming increasingly concerned that those in Barrie who want to acreage don’t care about with the loss of prime agricultural land. I am not opposed to logical development, however, losing agricultural land simply because it benefits, land speculators, and developers is not a position I am willing to take. In the case of TNR doors, the discussion last term was whether or not to allow them to build on agricultural lands when we have industrial lands in Springwater already set aside.

I respect the opinions of Mr. Smith, and I also recognize his abilities as a businessman. That being said, I know that businesses can make their home in Springwater in our designated industrial lands, rather than redesignating lands via an MZO.

Springwater stands to lose out. We stand to lose Springwater as a whole if this land grab moves forward.

Thank you, Phil Fisher, Ward 5 Councillor, Township of Springwater

Letter to the Editor

“If you don’t make a decision soon, the Province will step in and make it for you!”

Premier Ford stated “I don’t know why they are not being co-operative”

Doug Downey said “Best to try to find a local solution”

Some have said “Need to be back at the table”

The best was “what is wrong with Springwater Council?”    and I agree

Those statements are alarming to say the least. Council is scrambling and struggling to try and find a path forward with no organization and little to no information. We have no financial viability and impact study, no cost analysis, no vision of what Springwater will look like, no strategy and most importantly no unity in our approach. It would be irresponsible of me as your Councillor for me to make decisions without enough information or input. It is time to get to work. With a new senior management team and 4 new Councillors to consider, we need to start learning, and quickly. In our short 30 years, there has been painful conflict and lasting carnage in the north and the south end, despite this we still created the most beautiful Township to live in with so much to offer and we need to go back and learn from those mistakes and successes – the good, the bad and the ugly. We need to learn as a whole, at the same time, all receiving the same information and as soon as possible. We need to start at the beginning and hear from past Council members that lived through those tough years and the lessons they learned, how decisions were arrived at and ask for their input and opinion on what is happening today. We need to hear from the public on how supportive or not supportive you are and how does this affect you. Politics aside, this is by far, the biggest decision this Council will ever have to make and it will have repercussions, could be good for some, could be bad for some, I don’t know.  There will be more consultants and professional advisors I’m sure of that and a possible Provincial mediator. If it moves in this direction, the mediator will also need to be provided a desired outcome and strategic approach. The most important thing is that we show the Province that we are working hard on a plan, in a cohesive manner. For when the day comes and if we get to the table, it will be critical that we are well informed and prepared with a vision and outcome for Springwater everyone can be proud of.

One thing is for certain, the pressure is on !

Anita responses to Brian Smith

To:  Brian Smith

I am grateful for finally having the opportunity to speak the truth. We do nothing by ourselves – I am one of 7 who vote. This was 2 ½ yrs ago – why the outrage now? Thank goodness for YouTube –  Springwater Council Regular Meeting

Please take the time to watch these meetings, I said all along that this was a great project – the location had policy challenges!!   Not once did I vote NO.  At the time MZOs were for extraordinary circumstances.

Sept 01/21 – Item 5.1  Delegation (41:45)   Decision to move to Simcoe County to include within        Municipal Comprehensive Review – later denied by the County and sent back to the Township to sort out. Motion Amendment Passed – Unanimously  (Allen, Coughlin, Hanna, Ritchie, Cabral, Maw Chapman, Moore)

April 06/22 – Item:  9.5  (2:30-3:06) Delegation was pulled prior to  meeting. I was not present for this session of Council   Info Report 9.5  – full discussion had by  Council where Motion to defer the Info Report related to this matter was defeated

For/Deferral:  Allen, Coughlin, Maw Chapman

Against/Deferral: Hanna, Cabral, Ritchie

April 20/22 – Delegation was pulled prior to meeting. I did not have a conversation with Mr Smith on this day nor did he call me at anytime

Item:  10.2   (51:32)  Motion to discuss the green belt buffer zone

For:  Moore, Cabral, Perry, Hanna                                                                                                                                                      Against:   Maw Chapman, Allen, Coughlin

Item: 10.3  (1:30-1:58) MZO Applications – We in fact created an MZO Policy (Finalized 3 months later) because of this application. You never brought it back to us for reconsideration. We have had several large projects  come before us using this exact process successfully which is easy, open and transparent – the province has since adopted a similar process

Motion passed unanimously – Allen, Coughlin, Hanna, Perry, Cabral, Maw Chapman, Moore

Anita Moore, Ward 4 Councillor, Springwater Township


Ms. Belcourt, I want to thank you for your questions. As your questions are specific to Mr. Smith’s letter, that was read out by the Township clerk at the regular meeting of council held on 3 April 2024, my response will be in context to that letter. To be frank however, I’m surprised that the far more urgent and significant issue at hand impacting our residents that of a potential boundary adjustment or annexation, as referenced in Mr. Smith’s letter, of thousands of acres of Springwater land was not the focus of your enquiry.

Mr. Smith is a valued resident of Springwater Township and a business owner who has contributed immensely through his extraordinary business acumen in his business developments and creating employment opportunities. I recognize those contributions and applaud them.

In respect of Mr. Smith’s letter wherein he references employment opportunities lost, I agree, employment opportunities in fact were lost. However I disagree that the employment opportunities were lost due to council making an error. The employment opportunities were lost because the lands in question were agricultural and located within a greenbelt buffer zone. I have no problem using this term as the definition of a greenbelt buffer zone include policy, and land-use zone designations used in land planning for areas of largely undeveloped, wild or agricultural land surrounding or neighboring urban areas, and includes an area of open land around a city, on which building is restricted.

It’s important to note that the 75 acres identified in the letter fall within the Township’s identified buffer zone, was/is zoned as agricultural farm land, with nothing more than residential properties and the ongoing residential developments per the Midhurst Secondary Plan (Midhurst Special Rule ONT Reg 311/06). It’s important to note that the Township’s consultant report by McSweeney & Associates identifies a 25% decrease in farming employment between 2011-2021. Frankly this is an alarming stat, especially as the same report shows a 10% average decrease province wide.

All municipalities in Ontario must follow Ontario’s Planning Act, provincial policy guidelines and statements, their own Official Plans, and recognize their own planning staff’s role. It’s true that TNR door manufacturer did relocate to Oro-Medonte, but it’s very important to note that TNR relocated their business to appropriately zoned industrial lands within Oro-Medonte. Springwater township recently did review our Official Plan and there are clear areas defined within the Official Plan that identify adequate employment lands, that are properly zoned and located appropriately in close proximity to major provincial highways.

The letter speaks to a formal deputation with support and enthusiasm from many members of council. It also speaks to the withdrawal of their presentation as it couldn’t be presented a second time. To my recollection the presentation appeared on the council agenda on more than one occasion during 2022, and I do believe it was in the month of April. However it was struck from the agendas where it appeared a number of times.

The initial presentation to council regarding this proposal was actually in Sept 2021. On the council agenda at that time was listed a Delegation requesting council support of a Ministerial Zoning Order for Snow Valley Yorkwood for these same lands.  A Minister’s Zoning Order is an extremely powerful tool that is meant for situations of extraordinary urgency and it overrides local planning authority to approve development without expert analysis, public input, or chance of appeal *www.yourstoprotect.ca. Council at that time did not endorse or support the MZO request, however did forward it as information to the County of Simcoe. Residents should look into the MZO process and understand when, why, and where an MZO is the correct tool to be used.

Mr. Smith is also correct that the delegation could not be presented to council a second time, however that’s exactly what happened when the delegation request appeared on the April 2022 council agenda. In fact this re-appearance of the delegation was questioned at the time, but still was put onto the agenda on more than one occasion.

The result, because MZO requests could come before council and be endorsed with little to absolutely no public input or review was that  Councillor Moore, to her credit, proposed a motion to make MZO applications part of a transparent and completely accountable process that would move through township’s planning department just as other similar planning matters do.

There have since been more than one MZO request that followed this newly implemented process and I would suggest that it works well, particularly for our residents in keeping them informed throughout the entire process, and engaging them for input and comment prior to any decision being made by council.

I do lament the loss of employment, and it is my hope that going forward there will be no need of any annexation or boundary adjustment, and that council welcomes enthusiastically any opportunity to attract business and employment through respectful partnerships with any business or our neighbouring municipalities. One objective identified by Springwater is the implementation of policies of Smart Growth Management in all future planning for Springwater to manage sprawl and to protect farmland for future generations.

I would end by expressing to Mr. Smith that I believe his heart and mind are clearly focused on bettering Springwater Township in both his business and personal life and nothing would please me more than to help bring employment to Springwater, however it needs to be directed appropriately to properly zoned employment lands already identified within our Official Plan. I will also point out the fact that this particular parcel of land may be included in any annexation, or boundary adjustment, and that is not lost.

Respectfully George Cabral, Deputy Mayor, Township of Springwater

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