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Norcross says County planning on hold pending provincial changes

Posted May 1, 2019

New Tecumseth Deputy Mayor Richard Norcross told council Monday night his first meeting as chair of the Simcoe County Planning Advisory Committee (PAC) was suspended early last week after members were told the provincial Conservative government directed work cease on the upper tier led Municipal Comprehensive Review (MCR) as it continues undoing the previous government's planning policies.

The MCR is the key piece in drafting an Official Plan, and until 2017, it was conducted at the local level. The former Liberal government uploaded the MCR process to the County tasked with taking a regional approach to growth.

A County MCR, underway since 2018 and staged over three phases would dictate among other policies:
  • Settlement Area boundary expansions or alterations;
  • Employment Lands conversions;
  • Designate land beyond the needs for 2031; and
  • Agricultural System and Natural Heritage System mapping conformity.
Mr. Norcross said PAC is made up of five County councillors and two public members appointed at-large (former New Tecumseth mayor Mike MacEachern is one). Its mandate "essentially is to investigate future growth policies in Simcoe County" based on the 2017 Growth Plan. But the "legislation that was put forward has now been reversed, or as they call it, walking back."

"We had our first meeting we were advised of that, that new legislation will come out in six to eight months as to what the Conservative provincial government will be looking for," said the deputy mayor. "So we adjurned the meeting and we'll have to wait for this new legislation to come back."

It's expected the updated proposals will be components of the regional government review nearing completion.

David Parks, Simcoe County's Director of Planning, Economic Development and Transit County of Simcoe, confirmed the MCR process has been suspended.

"The County's Planning Department has adjusted its work program accordantly and awaits further direction and information from the Province," said Mr. Parks via email. "While we anticipate that the Province may make some changes to the Municipal Comprehensive Review process, as well as the Planning Act and Growth Plan, at this point in time we have not heard anything official from the Province regarding their new direction. While we have not received confirmation, it is anticipated that the changes will be announced by the Province in late May."

All stories, unless otherwise noted,
by Tony Veltri