Residential Planning & Development Update

The HVPOA will be presenting a deputation to Township Council On Wednesday, November 8 at 10:00 a.m. in Council Chambers.  The deputation will be posted to this website following the presentation.
HVPOA Deputation to Council on September 13, 2017 Regarding “HVPOA’s Initial Recommendations on Planning and Development Matters”
The HVPOA had a very successful and thorough “proactive” deputation to Council on September 13th, which was well supported by Councillor Coutanche and Mayor Hughes, and met with very favourable accolades from Council, and those in attendance. Our HVPOA board member and planning lead, Ian Veitch, introduced the deputation with opening remarks, followed by our main professional planning speaker, Mr. Bob Lehman. Trish Campbell, our HVPOA president provided closing remarks.
Our HVPOA professional planning consultant Mr. Bob Lehman was the key speaker on the subject. Mr. Lehman was introduced as a very well known and respected registered professional planner across Ontario and beyond. His experience is recognized for bringing exceptional high quality to community planning, and it was acknowledged that we will all benefit from his sage advice in land use planning decisions.
The main theme of the deputation was that the HVPOA, on behalf of our members and our community, seeks Council’s leadership, support, and partnership in ensuring that “good community planning” occurs well in advance of “expedited development approvals”. The HVPOA supports “responsible” development guided by good community planning up front.
The significance of the Horseshoe Valley/Highlands area was re-emphasized to Council as a natural “jewel” in Oro-Medonte and across Ontario, for its geography of wonderful woodlands, rolling hills, and linked green spaces, that is essential for supporting our unique active, outdoor recreational “lifestyle”.
This is the very reason so many of us were attracted to Horseshoe in the first place.
The main problem is that our unique recreational lifestyle and those supporting natural features, including our championship Highlands golf course, are under imminent threat from premature, unjustified developments. Such new development has neither the permanent sewage, water and roads infrastructure, nor the protections to prevent observed inappropriate clear cutting of our woodlands, nor the necessary amenities needed for a growing diverse community (eg. linked green spaces and trails, recreational facilities, schools, commercial uses, etc.), to name a few. Hundreds of potential development lots are already in various stages of the planning process here from conceptual to draft approved plans of subdivision, and are likely decades away from completion. So why not defer consideration of any Highlands golf course decisions, our main linked green space throughout the community, into the 2031-40 “land budget” for orderly staging purposes? On average only about 35 houses are sold in the Horseshoe area every year.
One of the key reasons why this situation is such a threat today is that land use planning and development decisions are guided by an Oro-Medonte Official Plan that is outdated, incomplete, and has not fully involved our citizens in our Horseshoe Valley Settlement Area in a meaningful way. We understand that this has been due primarily to awaiting the upper tier Simcoe County Plan approval.
The main solution presented to Council was to adopt the prudent, good business practice of taking a “pause” in approving any “new” and “renewed” subdivision development proposals, until the proper permanent and affordable municipal sewage, water and roads infrastructure were approved and in place, and a new “community master plan” for our Horseshoe Valley Settlement Area was in place, requiring amending and approving a new Oro-Medonte Official Plan, likely more than 3 years away.
In the “interim” period, proper growth-related studies, and strengthened development approval criteria and controls could be put in place to protect and improve our natural features and needed infrastructure and amenities.
The key mechanism to “pause” development approvals at Horseshoe, as strongly recommended to Council by Mr. Lehman, was to adopt an “interim control by-law”, under the Planning Act. This would provide a temporary freezing of “new” subdivision development lot approvals over a 1-2 year period, while the necessary growth-related studies were completed. Proper and better guidance would be able to be provided for all future major new development subdivision lot decisions in the Horseshoe Valley Settlement Area, and allow other related planning measures to be put in place. The HVPOA, through Mr. Lehman, requested Council act quickly to put these measures into place, and noted that our Horseshoe residents are looking forward to being a part of the upcoming Oro-Medonte Official Plan Review.
The full text of the HVPOA summary deputation of 1 page to Council and Mr. Lehman’s 3 page deputation presentation to Council are available with more detailed supporting background information on Oro-Medonte Township’s website under Sept.13/17 HVPOA deputation agenda item 8. b). Click Here to link to the Township website and scroll down to agenda 8. b) to read the documents.
The next steps are outlined mainly in the Council motions, which confirmed receiving the full HVPOA deputation, and that it is being directed to staff for review and return to Council for recommendations. Mayor Hughes requested that this be undertaken expeditiously.
We want to thank again all of our wonderful members and Horseshoe residents who came out in support of the HVPOA’s deputation. It was a standing room only session. Much effort and many meetings by our community members, a focus group, volunteers, our board of directors, Mayor Hughes, Councillor Coutanche, their staff and others, helped to bring focus to our deputation. For this we are very thankful.
We are very appreciative of Council for allowing us the opportunity to make this important deputation for our community. We are hopeful they will quickly act on these recommendations.
For those of you unable to attend this deputation, we have invited our professional planning consultant, Mr. Bob Lehman, to be a guest speaker at our Annual General Meeting (AGM), as well as Mayor Hughes, and Councillor Coutanche. It is scheduled for Thursday October 19th, at 6:30 pm., at The Heights Ski & Country Club, so please plan to attend, as it will be very informative for all of us. More information to follow regarding the AGM.
We will keep you posted on the results of our HVPOA planning and development deputation as it unfolds in this eNews.