The Orbit development plan threatens Lake Simcoe: Rescue Lake Simcoe Coalition

Subscribe to the OCN Daily Newsletter!

Receive a free update of the latest Ontario Construction News each morning

Ontario Construction News staff writer

Issuing an MZO for the Innisfil Orbit development ignores the impact on Lake Simcoe and allows private interests to build a GO station in exchange for extra density permissions, says a local advocacy group.

“Despite the Rescue Lake Simcoe Coalition and then the Town’s request that the MZO say that the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan must be followed, the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan does not appear in the MZO,” Claire Malcolmson, executive director at Rescue Lake Simcoe Coalition, said in a statement.

The coalition is also concerned that the province released a plan on Aug. 8 to “get around” a Conservation Authority permit.

“Until recently, provincial policy allowed Conservation Authorities to deny the destruction of natural features like forests and wetlands. The government of Ontario has changed the rules and now can order CA’s to allow the destruction of natural features,” Malcolmson said.

“Because there are no details or maps associated with the ERO notice, we do not know which natural feature, protected by policy, will be destroyed through this regulation. Councillors are on record saying the green spaces would be protected. The fact that staff and Councillors do not yet know which natural feature this refers to is a telling example of the “black box” nature of MZOs.”

She called the missing details glaring omissions in transparency and accountability.

In advance of expected changes to the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan by the province this summer, the coalition released a report, Lake Simcoe Under Pressure in 2021.

The Orbit is a massive development proposal on the outskirts of existing communities in Innisfil, between two small towns, less than 1 km from the shores of Lake Simcoe, centred on building a new GO train station in the middle of farm fields. The Orbit is a massive development proposal on the outskirts of existing communities in Innisfil, between two small towns, less than 1 km from the shores of Lake Simcoe, centred on building a new GO train station in the middle of farm fields.

Calling The Orbit “a massive development proposal between two small towns, less than a kilometre from the shores of Lake Simcoe, centred on building a new GO train station in the middle of farm fields.

“Innisfil Council has not addressed the public’s concerns about using an MZO and has mischaracterized a frenzy of interest (actually alarm) as public support despite the absolute lack of evidence to support this claim.”

The report identifies several concerns, including:

  • There are no details about water and wastewater servicing, nor how this project would affect water quality and Lake Simcoe.
  • The request is for a new town of up to 150,000 people ‘over a generation’, in a rural municipality of just 36,000 should go through the normal planning process.
  • While the MZO includes references to sustainability measures, there is absolutely nothing that compels confidence among environmentalists – no targets or benchmarks or even references to credible programs like LEED.
  • MZOs do not have to comply with the policies of the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan nor many of the provincial policies that ensure prudent planning and protection of the environment.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

I accept the Privacy Policy

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.