Citizen Action Monitor

Midhurst Ontario residents fighting to save prime farmland from mega housing development

Residents petition Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne to close Midhurst-only loophole

Famed Canadian novelist Margaret Atwood joins the fight

No 1091 Posted by fw, July 08, 2014

Note: The content of this post is drawn from several sources, none of which is specifically credited.

The people of Midhurst Village, a community of 3,500 in Ontario, are fighting to save their prime farmland and the rare Minesing Wetland from the looming spectre of a mega housing development.

Midhurst marked by red dot

Midhurst marked by black dot with white bulls-eye

A petition by the Midhurst Ratepayers’ Association demands that the Ontario Government close a Midhurst-only loophole and save Midhurst from being transformed from a rural community of 3,500 into a small city of 30,000. Margaret Atwood found out about the petition and was inspired to lend her support! Check out this video of her visit to Midhurst and hear her explain in her own words what is at stake and why you should sign too.

VIDEO – Margaret Atwood on the Save Midhurst Campaign, published July 2, 2014 (2:55 minutes)

JOIN ALMOST 41,000 OTHERS WHO HAVE SIGNED THIS PETITION

Midhurst, Ontario is a small community in Springwater, Ontario, Canada, near Barrie, Ontario.

The Midhurst Secondary Plan proposes to turn a small, rural community of 3,500 people into a small city of almost 30,000! At stake are the local farms on prime agricultural land that will be sacrificed for development land (up to almost 1,900 acres). Moreover, the health of a small local creek and the nearby, internationally significant Minesing Wetlands are threatened by 10.6 million litres of effluent that will be pumped in daily from the proposed sewage treatment facility. These wetlands contain fragile ecosystems and in some parts, rare or sensitive species of flora and fauna.  Based on what we stand to lose or destroy, failure to stop this massive over-development is NOT an option.

In addition, the people of Midhurst have overwhelmingly shown their disapproval of such a massive development through several actions including a petition and high attendance during a recent township meeting. Still, this rural community, its farms and water are under threat. Also, the municipality has provided little factual evidence that this development will bring any benefit to the citizens (e.g. local jobs, lower taxes).

This fight is about ensuring that people of a community have a right to be heard by their government, that they have a right to choose to preserve their natural resources and farms and that even when faced against formidable opposition, small voices can be turned into thunderous roars.

During the Ontario Provincial Election, Premier Wynne met with a few members of the Midhurst community. She appeared concerned and promised that if elected she would review the development plan. Residents now plan to hold Premier Wynne to her promise, and with the support of tens of thousands of people we hope she will be convinced to close the loophole. 

Here’s a copy of the petition letter to Ontario Premier Wynne. Sign it here.

To:
Premier Kathleen Wynne, Premier of Ontario
Mayor Collins and Springwater Council, Springwater Township
Glen Murray, Minister of the Environment and Climate Change
Ted McMeekin, Minister of the Municipal Affairs and Housing

Dear Premier Wynne, Ministers, Mayor Collins and Springwater Council,

RE: STOP THE MIDHURST SECONDARY PLAN 

I have recently signed a petition to put a stop to the Midhurst Secondary Plan (MSP). Let me explain my reasons for opposing this development.

In 2012, the Midhurst residents presented a petition against this plan with 1,456 signatures. This petition seemed to have little impact on Springwater Council. At a recent council meeting, it was clear that the local residents are still fully opposed to this plan as outlined in the Barrie Examiner. I hope that this new petition provides further evidence to Council that this issue is growing in concern.

There are several reasons why I am requesting that you repeal the MSP:

• The MSP will cause a loss of 1,880 acres of prime farmland – enough to feed almost 2,000 people! This loss will happen at a time when we are losing farmland at an atrocious rate. With projects such as this, local food will soon no longer be an option.

• At full build-out the MSP will dump 10.6 million litres of sewage effluent into the tiny Willow Creek and this could have a major detrimental environmental impact on the internationally recognized Minesing Wetlands. These ecosystems are fragile – the impact may be irreversible!

• The Township has not done a comprehensive evaluation of the financial impacts of the MSP. Is this plan what is best for taxpayers? Will this plan leave the community financially stable or potentially bankrupt it? In such hard economic times, prudence is key.

• There is little support that this plan will benefit the community. The Township has claimed that the MSP will bring jobs and stimulate the local economy but doesn’t have the facts to support this claim. It seems like these benefits are based on speculation and wishful thinking.

• The MSP will eradicate an easy-living rural community and change it to a fast-paced, high density city. The citizens of this community are rural by choice, not urban by force.

I recognize that intelligent growth which preserves the character of Midhurst is necessary. Consequently, Midhurst village has long planned to add up to 6,500 residents by 2031; however, to quadruple the population increase for no apparent reason to potentially 30,000 people at the expense of so much does not indicate to me responsible growth planning.

I urge you to put a stop to the Midhurst Secondary Plan and find a better way to grow Springwater communities that doesn’t threaten the landscape of a small, rural community, the farms that feed us all and the fresh water that deserves our protection. I’m calling on you to do the right thing- listen to the people and represent the wishes of those who elected you. Stop the Midhurst Secondary Plan.

Sincerely,
[Your name]

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This entry was posted on July 8, 2014 by in community action, environmental activism, political action and tagged , , .
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