Congratulations and Thank You
We are most pleased and proud to congratulate our Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Jeff Schmidt on his recent award by the Ontario Municipal Administrators’ Association (OMAA). Jeff has been recognized by his peers with a special OMAA achievement award for his commitment to the Simcoe Muskoka CAOs and District Health Unit Team in responding to the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic with exemplary leadership, innovation, and professionalism. Jeff was humble as usual in receiving congratulations for this and emphasized the hard work and dedication of Township staff over the past year contributed to his winning this award. Great work and thank you ALL for your contributions and making Springwater great.
There has been a lot of information coming out about vaccines lately and the number one question on everyone’s mind seems to be, when will I get one?
The province has launched a new online booking system to help people schedule their appointments. Currently, anyone over the age of 80 is able to book an appointment online. To book an appointment you will need a green photo health (OHIP) card, an email address and an updated web browser. To book your online appointment visit https://covid-19.ontario.ca/book-vaccine/. Eligible residents are also able to call 1-888-999-6488 to register. If you are not 80+ please avoid accessing the online booking portal or call desk to allow those that are eligible the opportunity to book an appointment.
Primary care physicians in Simcoe-Muskoka will also be contacting anyone aged 60-64 years of age to book an appointment. These recipients will receive the Astra-Zeneca vaccine. This vaccine is not recommended for anyone over the age of 65 and that is why the age category of 60-64 was selected.
For the month of March, Ontario is expecting to receive 870,480 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and 483,700 doses of the Moderna vaccine. Ontario also received 194,500 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine the week of March 8.
Last week Prime Minister Trudeau announced that increased shipments of Pfizer are expected in the coming months, with 1 million doses of the vaccine being delivered each week from March 22 – May 10. These numbers do not include any vaccines from Moderna, Johnson and Johnson or Astra Zeneca. This expedited delivery schedule is welcomed news, as more vaccines become available, additional appointments can be booked and further eligibility will open up. It is expected that some Phase 2 recipients will be able to register for their vaccine appointment beginning in April.
Cannabis Production Facility Review Study
WSP Group were retained by the Township to do this study and their final report came to Council this week. This is a culmination of notification, studies, a public survey and draft report presentation which occurred throughout 2020. On June 3, 2020, Township Council initiated an Interim Control By-law (ICBL) which placed a 1-year temporary moratorium on the establishment of new Cannabis Production Facilities within Springwater. The purpose of the ICBL was to provide the municipality with time to review land use matters associated with cannabis production facilities and to prepare a recommendation report to guide future planning processes/policy.
Staff are recommending that the Cannabis Production Review Study (“Study”) prepared by WSP Group be received by Council and that staff be directed to initiate a process to amend the Township Official Plan, Zoning By-law and Site Plan Control By-law in line with the findings of the Cannabis Study over the coming months. The process will require public meetings as per the statutory requirements of the Ontario Planning Act.
The recommendations of the Study include:
Official Plan Amendment
Cannabis cultivation and processing should be defined and considered as an agricultural use. I do not agree with this and feel that Springwater needs more control over where cannabis production occurs. Oro-Medonte is working to permit it in only Economic Development and Rural Industrial Zones and has further specified that “An Agricultural Use (Specialized) does not include a Cannabis Production and Processing Facility or outdoor growing of Cannabis”. This is currently being reviewed by them with the Local Planning Appeal tribunal (LPAT). Barrie currently permits a cannabis production facility only within its General Industrial Zones. The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs considers cannabis as an agricultural crop but the Provincial Policy states that “Agricultural Resources are to be managed for food and fibre production” and cannabis is neither of these. Although the Study claims that some of the municipalities they reviewed regard cannabis cultivation as an agricultural use, some don’t. I believe doing something similar to Oro-Medonte or Barrie would provide more control over ensuring that undesirable results do not occur with cannabis production.
Indoor cultivation could be permitted as an industrial or agricultural use. Should it be permitted indoors as an industrial use, the facility would need to accommodate a smaller yield and include the processing of everything grown on-site. This should also be determined on a case-by-case basis, through a rezoning, which gives the Township control over where facilities may be permitted as an industrial use.
Cannabis processing independent from any growing operation should be defined and considered as an industrial use.
Complete application requirements should be updated, as needed and applicable, to require details relating to lighting, fencing and security, and odour control/ventilation to address nuisance issues, which are atypical of an agricultural use. These uses should be subject to site plan control to mitigate the potential non-agricultural issues like lighting and fencing.
Official Plan Amendment
New definitions related to Cannabis cultivation and processing should be added to the Zoning By-law.
Cannabis cultivation and processing should not be permitted as-of-right in Industrial zones; however, it may be considered on a case-by-case basis through a rezoning depending on the scope and scale of the proposed facility.
Cannabis cultivation should be permitted as-of-right in the Agricultural Zone and processing should be permitted as-of-right in the Agricultural Zone provided it is associated with cultivation. Again, I do not agree with this for the reasons stated above and feel there should be designation in only Economic Development and Rural Industrial Zones. If there is required adjustment to zoning, that can be accommodated in the Official Plan Review presently ongoing.
Specific lot and building requirements, such as minimum lot area, setbacks, separation distances, security, fencing, parking, and loading spaces specific to Cannabis facilities are recommended.
New and Existing By-laws
Nuisance By-law to regulate potential odour, light or noise impacts of existing facilities and establish penalties for non-compliance. It is within the authority of a municipality to enforce such a by-law for legally licensed cannabis facilities.
Property Standards By-law is another option to address the issues of odour, light or noise impacts.
Amend existing Site Plan Control By-law to introduce provisions that would address issues that are specific to all new cannabis production facilities, which are generally atypical of an agricultural use, including, lighting, fencing, landscaping, and location of certain infrastructure, as needed, associated within these facilities.
Amend existing Site Plan Control By-law to apply to Cannabis production facilities within the agreed upon zones.
Staff will seek to prepare amendments to the Township Official Plan, Zoning By-law and Site Plan Control By-law as well as schedule a Statutory Public Meeting prior to the June 3, 2021 Interim Control By-law (ICBL) lapse date.
Hillsdale Intersection Pedestrian Signal and Yonge Street Pedestrian Crossover
In 2020, Council approved the installation of an Intersection Pedestrian Signal (IPS) in Hillsdale at the intersection of Albert Street and Highway 93, as well as a Pedestrian Crossover (PXO) for Yonge Street North at George Street in Elmvale. These locations were proposed due to residents voicing concerns regarding crossing safely at these intersections.
At the March 17 meeting, Council will receive a report recommending the tender be awarded to Guild Electric Limited in the amount of $222,569.22 including HST. The approved 2021 Capital Budget includes funds to cover these projects.
Small Business Webinars
Dimensions of Diversity: Keys to Building a Thriving Workforce
On March 24 from 8:30-10:30 a.m., the County of Simcoe will be hosting Dimensions of Diversity: Keys to Building a Thriving Workforce, a virtual event highlighting how cultural awareness and diversity helps enrich workplaces, increases productivity, and attracts and retains talent.
Participants will learn practical tips and gain new insights on how workplaces can effectively leverage the dimensions of diversity.
This is a free event, however pre-registration is required. To register, visit https://keystobuildingathrivingworkforce.eventbrite.ca
Ask an Expert: Navigating the 2021 Tax Season
Navigating the 2021 tax season may be more complicated for many small businesses and employed and self-employed individuals that had had to pivot employment, shut down for periods of time, or alter operations in 2021 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. There may also be different forms of income for 2020 depending on subsidies received.
On March 25th, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., the “Ask an Expert" webinar series invites interested parties to join Allen Lloyd, Tax Advisor, Consultant and founder of Lloyd Management Services (LMS) for a free virtual webinar that will help individuals and small businesses prepare to file a tax return.
This is a free event, however pre-registration is required. To register, visit https://askanexpert_2021taxes.eventbrite.ca
These are my views and not necessarily those of other Council members.