1. Ontario Moving to Next Phase of Reopening
With key health indicators continuing to show signs of improvement, Ontario will move to the next phase of reopening sooner than anticipated. Effective February 17, 2022 at 12:01 a.m., the Province will further ease public health measures, including, but not limited to:
- Increasing social gathering limits to 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors
- Increasing organized public event limits to 50 people indoors, with no limit outdoors
- Removing capacity limits in most indoor public settings where proof of vaccination is required, including restaurants and bars, gyms, meeting and event spaces, and more
- Allowing 50% of the usual seating capacity at sports arenas, concert venues and theatres
- Increasing indoor capacity limits to 25% in the remaining higher-risk settings where proof of vaccination is required, including nightclubs, restaurants where there is dancing, and others
- Increasing capacity limits for indoor weddings, funerals or religious services, rites, or ceremonies with certain restrictions in place
A full list of restrictions can be found online at covid-19.ontario.ca/public-health-measures.
2. Booster Dose Eligibility Expanded to Youth
Effective Friday, February 18, 2022 at 8:00 a.m., Ontario is expanding booster dose eligibility to youth aged 12 to 17. Appointments can be booked by visiting Ontario’s booking portal at ontario.ca/BookVaccine or calling the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre at 1-833-943-3900, or through select pharmacies administering the Pfizer vaccine. Appointments will be booked for approximately six months (168 days) after a second dose. To book an appointment online, individuals must be 12 years old at the time of appointment.
Updates on County Cart Exchange Program
The County of Simcoe’s contractor Solid Waste Management is now in the fourth week of allowing requests for cart exchanges. As of February 6, 4,432 exchange requests have been received, which represents just under 3% of serviced units. The number of requests has been on a downward trend weekly, meaning the County will likely be on the low end of their estimated range of between 5% and 12% of units seeking an exchange. This also means that the anticipated cost of the exchange program will likely be on the low end of their range estimate of $2 to $3.9 million. Deliveries for cart exchanges are anticipated to begin during the week of March 7th. However, it is possible that there will be shipping delays related to the truck driver protests in Canada and the United States.
Rapid Test Kits Available
As of February 9, the Provincial government has expanded public access to free rapid COVID-19 testing kits for at-home use. For the next eight weeks, five million rapid tests will be distributed each week through pharmacy and grocery locations across the province. An additional 500,000 per week will be distributed through community partners in vulnerable communities. Individuals can pick up a testing kit from one of 2,300+ participating locations while supplies last, with a limit of one box per household per visit. The Province has given participating retailers the ability to determine how testing kits are distributed in order to best serve their community, including through appointment bookings, at checkout or through online orders. A list of participating retailers as well as information on how retail locations are distributing rapid test kits can be found at ontario.ca/RapidTest.
Midhurst Heights Subdivision
An information report on this upcoming development was presented this week at Council. The draft plan of subdivision has been approved and implementation is now underway. The plan will develop 1,440 residential units (single detached, semi-detached and townhomes) with lot frontages from 35 feet to 69 feet between Doran Road, Russell Road, Forbes Road and Gill Road. Blocks have been set aside for a park, open space and storm water management space, a future school site, a commercial block, and a water treatment plant.
The developer is working toward site development over a three-to-four-year timeframe with an objective to obtain building permit issuance in the fall of 2023. This requires a significant amount of work to prepare the site and have the requisite services in place to support the planned development.
A tentative work schedule has been submitted by the developer, which is dependent on the developer’s ability to achieve the required approvals from the applicable authorities, the completion of key engineering details (stormwater management, provision of water/sanitary services, transportation requirements, satisfying specific conditions of approval) and weather. The schedule is as follows:
- Tree clearing and grading for the 2022 construction season;
- Internal and external servicing for the 2023 construction season;
- Building permit availability for October 2023, based on starting house construction one year in advance of the wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) being commissioned;
- Occupancy permit availability is planned for October 2024 or early 2025, based on the WWTP being commissioned.
In accordance with the workplan, the developer has submitted a tree clearing request to prepare the site for significant earthworks to be completed over the next year. Tree clearing cannot be carried out during the period of April 15 through October 31, in any given year, due to the Endangered Species Act and Migratory Birds Act. Before earthworks may occur, consultation with the Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority and Council approval are required. This request is expected to be on a Council agenda this March.
I also will want to receive an update on the Craig Road construction from Russell Road to Bayfield Road. It was agreed that the road would be constructed prior to the subdivision construction, with a plan to carry traffic east and west to the north of the development rather than through Midhurst. This construction is included in the Township’s 10-Year Capital Plan as follows:
- 2022 - $2,077,000 – Utilities, Box Culvert & Property Acquisitions
- 2023 - $2,500,000 – Craig Road – County Road 27 to Gill Road (Year 1 Construction
- 2023 - $3,805,000 – Craig Road – Gill Road to West of Russell Road (Year 1 Construction)
- 2024 - $3,018,000 – Craig Road – County Road 27 to Gill Road (Year 2 Construction)
- 2024 - $5,000,000 – Craig Road – Gill Road to West of Russell Road (Year 2 Construction)
Finalization of funding is required and the timing for this needs to be reaffirmed.
Free Simcoe County Agritourism Toolkit
Tourism Simcoe County has created a new Simcoe County Agritourism Toolkit for those looking to plan or develop an agritourism business in the region. The Simcoe County Agritourism Toolkit contains all the information you will need to help you decide whether agritourism is right for you. It outlines the steps you will need to take to add an agritourism component to your existing farm business or to help grow your existing agritourism business. The Toolkit is divided into four components based on a standard business development planning approach. To view Toolkit, visit experience.simcoe.ca or contact firstname.lastname@example.org to request a free print copy.
Ontario COVID-19 Small Business Relief Grant
The application portal for the Ontario COVID-19 Small Business Relief Grant is now open. This grant program provides a one-time payment of $10,000 to eligible small businesses that were required to close their indoor operations as a result of the Province’s modified Step 2 restrictions that came into effect on January 5, 2022. The deadline to apply is Friday, March 11, 2022. To learn more about the eligibility criteria and to apply, visit app.grants.gov.on.ca/osbrg.
Ontario Heritage Week
February 21 to 27 marks Ontario Heritage Week— an opportunity for communities across the province to appreciate and reflect on Ontario's natural and cultural heritage. In celebration of Ontario Heritage Week, the Township of Springwater is pleased to take you on a virtual exploration of three local heritage properties through its “Heritage at Home” initiative. Pulling together digital resources including photo galleries, videos and other documentation, this online platform will allow you to experience these unique properties room-by-room and learn the stories behind their doors. Properties featured include Crossland General Store, Martingrove House and Parker House, all which are officially designated by the Township of Springwater as properties of cultural heritage value or interest under the Ontario Heritage Act. Start your tour by visiting springwater.ca/HeritageAtHome.
These represent my views and not necessarily those of Council. Be well.