NB: As a candidate for Deputy Mayor in the upcoming municipal election, I receive questions from residents about my stand on various issues and policies. I will post my responses here for everyone to read. My responses are in italics, below.
One of my main concerns is development in the area. I do understand that development is important for the economic growth of Collingwood and builds a tax base. My concern is the natural area that makes Collingwood beautiful is shrinking especially with the future housing plans.
Is this a priority for you? If yes, what will you do to ensure protected areas remain protected and the natural beauty remains? If not, please explain.
Response: I too am concerned, but there’s not much any municipality can do because planning is controlled predominantly at the provincial level. Collingwood was designated as a growth area several years back, as part of the provincial plan to limit sprawl in more rural areas. The county also supports this, by the way. It means we see more residential growth than most of our neighbours. And yes it means increasing loss of greenspace.
Compounding this is the shift in real estate that has driven many homeowners in the GTA to sell and move outside the city – and with it a demographic change because many of these new residents are older and retired. That has driven up the market for housing and accelerated the growth in some areas.
Although growth brings in new money – and for a council that manages its finances carefully, that helps keep taxes low – it also means more demands on infrastructure and services, which can also raise costs for them. And few if any of the new homes are in the “affordable” range for many of our residents (especially seniors and low-income earners).
The Planning Act, the county’s Official Plan and our own Official Plan lay out what can be developed and where. Since all of this land is in private hands, we can only regulate it according to these documents: things like servicing, density, setbacks, roads, tails, parkland, etc. We can slow growth down through bureaucratic means, but not stop it indefinitely.
We even have little to no control over things like style and design (although last term I did manage to get a change to stop the building of ‘snout houses’ here). Last term I also raised mandatory tree planting in new developments, but it didn’t gain traction (I’ll try again next term).