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Mayor Column April 2017

Council recognizes that growth is a topic of significant interest among East Gwillimbury residents. We are often asked why there seems to be so much growth at once and how, as a Council, we are ensuring that growth happens in a responsible manner.  I can assure you that, Council and staff have been preparing for many years to ensure measures are in place to control the construction process and preserve the history and culture that make EG so special.

As you look around our community and see new developments, you are looking at over 25 years of history and planning come to life.  Many of the approvals for the new subdivisions being built date back to the late 1980’s. In fact, the Sharon Community plan was adopted in 1988, the Mount Albert Community Plan in 1989, the Queensville Community Plan  in 1990, and the Holland Landing Community Plan in 1996.

The development process is long-term and takes many shapes before a builder is able to put a shovel in the ground. Many of the first steps began in 1971 when Council approved the Town’s Official Plan and then approved its update in 1997. The Plan designates lands in a number of ways such as green space, residential, commercial or mixed-use. Although, specific lands were designated for development, much of the construction was placed on hold as there was not enough water and wastewater servicing to accommodate the developments at that time. Because of this, the developments which received approvals in the 80’s, 90’s and 2000’s were subject to Holding Symbols under the Zoning By-law. The Holding Symbol restricts building permits from being issued until the appropriate allocation of water and waste water is available. The necessary allocation would only come with the extension of “the big pipe” known as the York Durham Sewer System.

Once the pipe was in place, many developers began to move forward and submit building permits for the developments that had been approved many years prior. This is why you see a significant amount of development happening now.

Planning for and monitoring the new developments are key priorities for Council. To ensure that development is managed responsibly, the Town’s subdivision agreements were updated in 2014 with new stringent regulations. The updates included a requirement for phasing plans, and regulations on where construction can take place.  Generally, construction now starts adjacent to existing development and then moves away from the existing homes in order to reduce the length of time residents are impacted by construction activities. Construction sites are also monitored by Town inspectors. We take this issue seriously and have included two new inspectors in part of the growth-related budget for 2017.

To put the growth into perspective since 2015, the Town has currently issued more than 2300 permits for new home construction and we expect to see up to another 2000 permits issued by 2018. These occupancies are all expected to be in place by 2020.

As a resident of more than 35 years, I know that growth can be a challenge, but it is also one of our greatest opportunities. It affords us the opportunity to build new community infrastructure and provide additional services to residents such as our own aquatics facility. It is also an opportunity to attract businesses and jobs for residents that are closer to home.

As a whole, Council is working with staff to embrace the change and diversity that growth brings, while ensuring that we are taking care of our existing residents and businesses and building a balanced community.