On the coast of Georgian Bay, an Ontario boom city stops a sudden development. Why? It says it is running out of water


Collingwood, ONT. — Developer Thomas Vincent’s still-progress adult lifestyle village, just five minutes’ walk from Georgian Bay.

Not ironic on that: Despite the proximity to the “Sixth Great Lake”, this cottage draws most of the water of the Boom City, the council says, soon there won’t be enough treated water to flow through everyone’s taps in the area. New condos and houses are being built.

Therefore, development has to be stopped now.

This means that there is no shovel in the ground for projects that do not already have construction permits, such as the next phase of Balorel village in Vincent. Instead of condos for the Medical Center and Seniors, two large dirt-filled lots will remain – at least for now.

“I’m at a loss for words about how I feel, apart from disappointment,” Vincent said while surveying the barren landscape. “We are stuck with a ton of registrations, people have deposited money, waiting for deposits.”

The city had no choice, Mayor Brian Saunderson said Monday night at a virtual council meeting. “In my opinion, inaction is not an option,” he said for at least a year before endorsing an interim control bylaw (ICBL) to block new construction, which passed 6-3.

Since 2001, the population has exceeded 50 percent of this population in two hours northwest of Toronto, about 20,000, which has occurred much in the last five years.

According to city staff, the modeling suggests that this rapid development will compromise the water treatment plant’s capacity to meet forecasted demand before the planned $ 65 million expansion is completed in 2025.

Employees identified various “opportunities” that the city could explore, such as increasing the amount of chlorine during the winter, and reducing the amount of water sold to nearby communities. But those alone were dismissed as inadequate, and staff recommended ICBL.

“The statement said there are long-lasting effects on the community, although it is necessary to protect residents and ensure long-term stability.”

Collingwood now joins other Ontario communities who are waving red flags about the scale of development and problems associated with the planning and management of water and infrastructure.

The ICBL is an increasingly popular response, even as a Bay Street lawyer told Collingwood Council earlier this week the move is the “atomic bomb” of the plan.

They are a tool under Ontario Planning act It allows a city to impose a temporary freeze on certain land uses when reviewing or reviewing municipal planning policies. ICBL can be levied for one year, with a maximum extension of one additional year.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing said that the government does not take into account how often they are used. Conrad Spazovka wrote in an email to The Star, “The ministry is not involved in the municipal decision to issue one and they are not required to give this information to the ministry.”

In 2004, the Toronto city council passed an ICBL to prevent McDonald’s from putting a drive-through on St. Clair Avenue West, and again in 2013 to keep Walmart and other big box retailers out of the Kensington Market.

In 2018, Burlington passed the ICBL to close the new building in the downtown core for a year, after which the Ontario Municipal Board now approved a highrise with “exorbitant height,” justifying it. Happened “because we were designated as a major transit area. Burlington Mayor Marian Mad Ward explained to the Star.

At the time, “construction applications were coming in thick and fast, and each one was more than the next.” It was 17 (storey), then it was 22 and then it was 26, we came in 29. The official plan calls for four to eight storeys.

“It was the Wild West Downtown, and we were losing control of our ability to carefully plan and manage development.”

Local developers said the move was politically motivated and made serious predictions about the impact on the local economy. He predicted that it would raise housing prices in an already hot market and suggested that it would ruin the city’s reputation.

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A similar claim was made in Collingwood this week. One of the Bay Street attorneys representing the developers warned the council that passing the ICBL would result in the city “black sheep in Ontario where people are afraid of doing business.” Like Burlington, elected officials were blasted for lack of transparency and potential secret agendas.

Years after the ICBL was implemented by Burlington, Med Ward said the move was effective because it led to changes in Burlington’s official plan, which are now subject to appeal by developers. “The council is now in the driver’s seat, and that means the public is in the driver’s seat” and applications matching “our vision” get approved, she said.

He called ICBL a “critically important tool” for councils and communities that are losing their ability to properly plan infrastructure and community services, when “suddenly you are getting applications that meet the expectations of your population.” Are wildly related to “what really happened to Burlington.”

Niagara-on-the-Lake, a popular tourist destination, has made good use of the ICBL to buy some time for careful reflection, said Betty DiCero, the city’s lord mayor and a former Toronto councilor.

In 2018, the city passed an ICBL to prevent any marijuana production from being established in the agricultural sector “until we had the opportunity to review and make the best plans to deal with them,” she said.

The council also passed an ICBL to curb the development in the old town section. It was removed a year ago – and DiCero wouldn’t say more than that as the city is embroiled in litigation with a developer, Rainer Sheep, who sued, alleging that ICBL was enacted in bad faith.

A few weeks ago, a superior court judge, James Ramsay, rejected his argument.

“I think the council wanted to preserve the heritage of the old city and consider the matter urgently necessary,” Ramsay wrote in a judgment issued on 15 April. He considered the study and public input, amended the official plan and then repealed the Interim Control Act. It is inevitable what they were about to do. “

Hummel told the Star that he would definitely appeal the decision. He declined to comment further.

In addition to stopping most of the new construction in Collingwood – there are some exemptions such as small-scale residential projects – ICBL has initiated several measures, including hiring an external planning consultant to conduct a study that focuses on the “implications” do. Water and wastewater barriers

“The city does not need another planning study,” says Vincent, a transplanted Torontonian.

Developers and local engineers are ready to sit down with the city for “free” and come up with solutions to the water issue, he insists.

“Developers embrace, because we want to help, we want everyone to succeed,” he says. “We can make this a great destination and the city will shed this tears in a year. The developers are saying that they are fed up, they are not going to deal with it. “

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