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Oro-Medonte, Barrie commit to finding 'amicable' boundary solution

Oro-Medonte planner says two municipalities should be working from a regional focus to meet area's employment needs
Oro-Medonte Mayor Randy Greenlaw, left, and Barrie Mayor Alex Nuttall have agreed to continue talks in an effort to solve Barrie's boundary expansion issues.

Oro-Medonte is officially extending an olive branch to the City of Barrie to find a solution to its boundary expansion issue.

Oro-Medonte council voted unanimously Wednesday night to support a report from the township’s planner which calls for increased co-operation between the two municipalities and presented alternatives to Barrie’s initial proposal. 

“I think it’s an excellent report and gives us definitely a path forward to a sustainable and amicable solution,” said Oro-Medonte Township Mayor Randy Greenlaw. “We will continue discussions with the City of Barrie.”

In the report, Oro-Medonte planner George Vadeboncoeur said township staff do not support the proposed municipal boundary expansion, because the planning justification has not been completed to demonstrate that the proposed expansion satisfies provincial interests and represents good planning. 

But, he said, the township is prepared to work with the City of Barrie to find a solution to address its employment-land needs based on a comprehensive planning process that works for Oro-Medonte, Barrie, Simcoe County and the province. 

He also requested that staff be authorized to prepare additional background documentation in support of the ongoing discussions with the Barrie.

Vadeboncoeur said the township has almost 860 hectares (approximately 2,100 acres) of employment land designated in its Official Plan along the Highway 11 corridor, minutes away from the Barrie boundary, that could accommodate the city’s requested land needs and be developed by almost any interested party seeking employment land.

For clarity, Oro-Medonte Coun. John Bard asked Vadeboncoeur if there were any issues with the township not having municipal water and sewers available in its development/employment land area.

“Those lands can be developed on well and septic, there’s not an issue,” Vadeboncoeur told council. “However, there are some types of industries that do use a lot of water and those types of industries tend to use quantities of water that go beyond just what a well can provide. They also discharge wastewater more than what a typical septic system can handle.”

Those types of industries and businesses should locate in municipalities that have full water and sewer services, Vadeboncoeur added.

If Barrie and Oro-Medonte worked collaboratively, he said they could identify businesses that only need well and septic to locate in Oro-Medonte’s designated employment land, and industries that require municipal water and sewers to locate on land designated within the City of Barrie.

He said the two municipalities should be working from a regional focus in terms of meeting employment needs of the area.

Barrie Mayor Alex Nuttall said discussions are ongoing with Oro-Medonte, some of which are confidential.

“The Township of Oro-Medonte and City of Barrie continue to have discussions focused on the future prosperity of the Greater Barrie Area, the Township of Oro-Medonte, and the County of Simcoe,” Nuttall said in response to Oro-Medonte council’s decision to continue to discuss Barrie’s boundary expansion. 

“We remain committed to finding a multi-municipal solution in the best interests of the entire region,” Nuttall added.

Oro-Medonte Deputy Mayor Peter Lavoie said there are a lot of matters to take under consideration and he's looking forward to further talks.

“We’ll have conversations with Barrie, some of which will be private and some of which will evolve, and some of them will become public as necessary when they ought to evolve,” he said.

“We look forward to coming up with solutions that are the best solutions for all of our communities," Lavoie added.

Following council’s discussion of Vadeboncoeur’s report, Greenlaw provided council with an update to his Jan. 18 meeting with Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Paul Calandra.

“Minister Calandra was very open and transparent and when I followed up with him at ROMA (Rural Ontario Municipal Association), he said he is very confident that the parties themselves will find a solution without him engaging, which is a positive thing,” Greenlaw said.

“We hope to get this as far along the path as possible in order to find a solution," he added. “If not, at that point, we will implement a facilitator."

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Wayne Doyle, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

About the Author: Wayne Doyle, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Wayne Doyle covers the townships of Springwater, Oro-Medonte and Essa for BarrieToday under the Local Journalism Initiative (LJI), which is funded by the Government of Canada
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