Here is my submission to the June 28, 2022, statutory MCR meeting, thank you for the opportunity.
(For those unfamiliar with the MCR process, let me explain what it is and how I view it. The MCR or Municipal Comprehensive Review is a process in Ontario, mandated by the province of Ontario, to delegate minimum population growth for municipalities in Ontario. It is a response to population growth that is premised on unprecedented levels of immigration into Canada and Ontario.
This submission is to the County of Simcoe and its Official Plan Growth Projections. My submission clearly rejects the acceptance of the premises fueling the growth plan and the planning tools that the County of Simcoe envision. Although I do concur with the notion that keeping new population growth in the towns and cities (settlement areas) is a good idea, after that I cannot accept the levels of growth envisioned.
I have read the original Hemson report and observed the special Council meeting back in December 2021. As well I have talked to senior planning staff at the county and two planners at the lower tier municipalities. I was a county councillor and understand the planning process and what is at stake by adopting the MCR plan in its current form.
The two greatest challenges confronting humankind are
- Climate change and
- Loss of biodiversity.
Increasing our population in Simcoe County and indeed in all of Ontario and Canada ignores the reality of these two challenges.
The destruction of woodlands, wetlands, and other natural heritage features within settlement areas to accommodate the unrealistic population increase envisioned by the MCR plan and the province will mean more greenhouse gases and less biodiversity. Witness recent developments in Penetanguishene and Midland where, as we speak, forests are destroyed, and wetlands infringed upon.
This process will only accelerate climate change and biodiversity loss. Clearly, if the county and its consultants want to be responsible then population growth would not be allowed or at the very least any new population growth should be directed to settlement lands that are not covered with forests or wetlands or other natural heritage features. That would mean more vertical development in the settlement areas, i.e., towers.
I am not advocating towers, I am not advocating population growth; it is the County Council, the province and the federal governments that are advocating population growth.
The next line of questioning involves servicing of the new population. We all know that our health care systems, long term care, home care, public transport, social services, affordable housing are inadequate. In a word hard and soft services do not meet the needs of our current population.
How can you expect that by increasing our population so dramatically that this situation can improve? The answer; going forward the service provision for Simcoe County residents will decline, from in most instances, an already poor to fair level.
The consultants and the County Councillors must be aware of this, and you cannot abrogate your responsibilities to your residents by ignoring this.
And even if you think that the services required to meet the rapid growth can be met, then I can only say to you who is going to pay for the services, as we all know the province and federal governments who mandate the population growth are not reliable funding partners and you should not expect that to change in the future.
We are in a game of perpetual catch up.
So clearly, I reject the planned population growth for Simcoe County as envisioned by the MCR and indeed for Canada and Ontario. My reasoning is based on science and what we all know to be true, most service delivery is fair to poor in our county and province, and I expect to decline as the population growth increases.
I encourage the Simcoe County Council to reject this plan and challenge the Ontario governments directive.
I welcome your response.