Mayor Don’s Update: November 26, 2020
This last Monday, 8 new cases of COVID-19 were reported in Springwater – we are not immune to COVID-19. Springwater now has 34 confirmed cases of which 21 have recovered, one death has occurred, and 12 cases are under investigation.
Also as of Monday, November 23, all in the Simcoe-Muskoka District Health Unit area are now in the orange category of the provincial COVID-19 framework. Moving from yellow to orange means some new restrictions for our area, including:
All previous restrictions remain in effect, including gathering limits of 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors. For a full list of restrictions please visit Ontario.ca/covid19
To prevent us moving to the red zone, and incurring further restrictions, we all must do our part. Please refrain from gathering with anyone from outside of your household, only go out for essentials, wear a mask, and wash your hands often. Together we can bring the numbers down and return to a new normal.
Elmvale & District Food Bank Opening
Congratulations to the Elmvale & District Food Bank on theopening of their new location at 62 Yonge St. N. This new facility was constructed to address some of the challenges experienced at their previous location in the Elmvale Community Hall. This new location has ample parking, is close to the Simcoe County LINX transit system, has a private interview room and plenty of storage space.
The Township of Springwater is pleased to support the important work the Food Bank does in our municipality. The volunteers work tirelessly to ensure that no one in our community goes hungry.
The Elmvale & District Food Bank operates Wednesdays from 4:00-6:00 p.m. and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 12 noon. Anyone experiencing food insecurity is urged to contact them for a helping hand.
Backyard Chickens Approved
The backyard chicken’s pilot project has passed the final hurdle and is now active, following Council’s approval of the licensing by-law. All properties, which meet the setback requirements, within the Township of Springwater now can keep a maximum of four (4) hens, in accordance with the Licensing and Temporary Use By-laws.
To be approved to keep backyard chickens, residents must submit a complete application form with the required supporting documents to the Clerk’s Department for approval. Applicants are required to renew their license annually. For further information visit: www.springwater.ca/backyardchickens
Staff has presented the Preliminary 2021 Draft Budget for Council’s consideration. The budget is being deliberated at Special Budget Meetings scheduled for November 23, 25 and 30, as well as December 7 and 9. These meetings will be live streamed online at www.springwater.ca/live. For additional information on the 2021 budget visit www.springwater.ca/budget
Western Mechanical Development
A zoning by-law amendment was approved by Council for property owned by Western Mechanical at 2145 Flos Road Four East in Hillsdale to permit industrial uses and outside storage on the property. Western Mechanical plans to construct a 19,600 square metre industrial facility, creating initially approximately 20 jobs and more in future. There is the potential for further future industrial development on the property as well.
Cannabis Actions to Assist Municipalities
Licenses for Cannabis production facilities are regulated and issued by Health Canada. In addition to the licencing responsibilities, promotions, packaging, labelling and display are also within the federal jurisdiction. The Province, via the Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA), has provided a written opinion that growing cannabis is an agricultural use. Local municipalities are responsible for Building Code compliance, zoning emission/restrictions, site plan control, and local enforcement. The main issues that are reoccurring throughout the lower-tier municipalities are: medical cannabis licenses, odour, noise, drainage, and responding to public inquiries. Simcoe County Council approved sending a letter to Health Canada and the Provincial Ministry of Health requesting the following three improvements to promote appropriate land use planning regarding cannabis:
1. Preparation and implementation of Provincial Planning Guidelines.
It is recommended that policies like those contained in the Ontario Provincial Policy Statement be implemented federally. Health Canada needs to prepare guidelines which consider the noise and odour impacts of cannabis production facilities on surrounding sensitive land uses, like the current minimum distance separation formula that is in place for other agricultural uses.
2. Additional Enforcement Tools
Health Canada needs to amend the existing Cannabis Act and Cannabis Regulations to provide for a stronger and more effective legislation to ensure proper location criteria. It should be made clear that local policy and zoning by-laws at the municipal level do have the authority to regulate where and how cannabis facilities can operate. Health Canada should provide education and training to law enforcement persons and take a more active role in the enforcement of both legal and illegal agricultural cultivation operations.
3. Improved Communication with Health Canada.
Local municipalities have little to no involvement in the licencing process and therefore face challenges responding to the public regarding permissions. Health Canada needs to amend the existing licencing process to include local municipal approvals earlier in the process. Health Canada needs to provide a point of contact to assist with public inquiries as a direct result of the licences issued. The lack of information is leading to a perception of untoward actions being taken by cannabis companies and/or individuals, in cooperation with the government, including local and regional municipalities.
Although COVID-19 is preventing us from hosting our traditional Christmas events or public gatherings, organizations throughout the Township want to make this year as magical as ever and have come up with creative ways to celebrate the holiday season. There will be virtual tree lightings, festive displays, Christmas light tours and more. The details are still being finalized but be sure to visit the Township website at springwater.ca/LightUpSpringwater for updates as they become available.
Make the extra push and take the right steps to stay safe out there!!!