Below are excerpts from a note we sent to the Mayor of Midland, the town planner and CAO, outlining our position with respect to the urban node opportunity. Please send along your comments.
“Hi Ted. Wes suggested I connect with you on the urban node status opportunity. We read with great interest and optimism the amendment to the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, which contemplates the proposed urban node designation for Midland- Penetanguishene. As you know, interested parties are encouraged to write submissions and forward same to the Ontario Growth Secretariat, which we plan to do. We’re big believers of working together and exploring alignment, so we decided to write the town first to understand possible positioning. We also note, both towns by way of media announcements, have requested copies of submissions be sent to their CAO’s, Walker and Rath respectively. It is clear from previous positioning and our recent readings, that Midland-Pentanguishene were cohesive in their approach to secure urban node status and for the most part, are now viewed as one entity. I quote from the amendment, “Urban nodes are the settlement areas of the city of Barrie, ……, the Town of Midland TOGETHER with the Town of Penetanguishene”. This language certainly motivates both communities to explore those things in common with an appreciation of our uniqueness as it relates to language and heritage. When it comes to infrastructure and sharing costs to provide ongoing services, we believe a commitment/agreement needs to be in place between the two towns and should be a pre-cursor for moving forward. The timing could not be better considering we have two newly elected Mayors and common taxation challenges. We’ll call it out again, services like Fire, Police, Ambulatory, Hospitals, Libraries, Waste management, Recreation centers, etc, could and should have more synergies. We will most certainly struggle to support the plan if the concept of shared services providing greater efficiencies is not embraced upfront by both towns; and we certainly cannot support the plan, if both towns fail to get serious about run-a-way taxes. Fundamental to attracting new business and new residents is a tax friendly and policy friendly local government. Midland needs to aspire to a passing grade on these two fronts. Both towns have taxes in excess of where they should be and given the recent budget process we witnessed several weeks ago here in Midland, town leadership simply struggle with the discipline around making tough choices”.
In summary, we want to be involved. To this end, please let us know if you plan to involve business/residents in your deliberations and in the crafting of your response. Again, we have members with capability in the areas of planning, process, communications, etc, and remain available to support.
In the event the timeline for submissions is not extended, might I suggest a team be formed to do some early work, under the heading of finding some common agreement. The team could comprise of the two Mayor’s, a councillor from each municipality, interested town staff (Planner & CAO), and business and non-business representatives from the community.
Food for thought