Innisfil’s industrial employment land expanded by ministerial order

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innisfil construction
Photo by Robin MacLennan

The Innisfil Heights Strategic Settlement Employment Area is being expanded, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Steve Clark has announced.

Since early 2018, Innisfil has received more than 40 industrial-related inquiries from Toronto-area companies looking to relocate

Development of the Town of Innisfil’s strategic settlement employment area at Innisfil Heights – located at Innisfil Beach Road and Highway 400 – has been held back by the high cost of servicing.

The land has municipal water, but no wastewater servicing. The cost of providing sewage collection and treatment has been prohibitive, based on the number of potential industrial lots within the Innisfil Heights boundaries.

Now, after years of petitioning, Municipal Affairs Minister Steve Clark has announced an expansion of the Innisfil Heights strategic settlement employment area, extending the area north to the boundary with the City of Barrie, and south to Innisfil’s Line 6.

“Under A Place to Grow: Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing has the authority to establish boundaries and permitted uses of the strategic settlement employment areas,” Clark wrote in a letter to the town and County of Simcoe. “I am hereby amending the boundary established by letter dated February 4, 2013 . . . including the additional lands to the north and south of Innisfil Heights as requested.”

The revised boundary will provide additional lands needed by the town to fulfill the vision for the Innisfil Heights Strategic Settlement Employment Area, by providing the large lots and access to Highway 400 needed for the employment uses intended for this area.

“I look forward to continuing our work together on the implementation,” Clark wrote.

The new boundaries expand the development land by an additional 200 hectares, greatly reducing the cost per acre for servicing, but the land is still restricted for large-scale manufacturing, industry and warehousing uses. Retail and commercial uses are still not allowed.

Innisfil Mayor Lynn Dollin thanked the minister, saying it took “years and years and years of going to meetings” to get the consideration and calling the decision a proud moment that diversifies what Innisfil has to offer.

The town first requested an expansion in 2008 and in 2016 a staff report identified the cost of servicing and a planned new interchange at Highway 400 and Line 6 as justifications for expansion. A 2017 County of Simcoe report identified a shortfall in the amount of designated industrial land in Innisfil that the ministry agreed to reconsider.

From a planning policy perspective, the next step will be to implement the new IHSSEA boundary into the Town’s Official Plan and Zoning By-Law. Staff will initiate the process shortly to prepare an Official Plan Amendment (OPA) with community and local stakeholder input. An amendment to the County of Simcoe’s Official Plan will also be required.

Concurrently with these amendments staff will consider the development of a Community Planning Permit System (CPPS) for the IHSSEA to help streamline the planning approvals process and provide a competitive advantage for the economic development team.

The inclusion of additional lands into the IHSSEA provides additional financing considerations for the provision of wastewater servicing to Innisfil Heights. Together with ongoing improvements to Innisfil Beach Road, waste water servicing of the IHSSEA will continue and the town will begin marketing the expansion lands to new businesses.

Since early 2018, Innisfil has received more than 40 industrial-related inquiries from GTA companies looking to relocate. Original boundaries were confirmed in the 2012 Provincial Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe. Permitted uses were set by the ministry.

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