‘This is terrifying’: New Tecumseth councillors react to proposed long-term growth targets

New Tecumseth councillors had a lot to say about the preliminary population and housing targets the County of Simcoe is proposing to assign the town as part of the .

The town’s population is proposed to grow to 86,100 people by 2051, which is double the current population of 43,450.

The town is also proposed to add a significant number of housing units and jobs over this same period.

New Tecumseth currently has 15,600 housing units and about 20,570 jobs, but the target calls for 35,320 housing units and 31,650 jobs.

The county has asked the town to provide input on these numbers as it continues to conduct the review.

Here’s what council members had to say about these figures during the :

Alliston Coun. Paul Foster said if you look at the 31 landowner requests to expand the existing settlement boundaries, totalling 8,700 hectares, and multiply it by the 50 persons per hectare target, you come up with a “whopping” number much higher than the 2051 target.

“When I look at the three maps ….it’s not going to be three distinct communities,” he said. “It’s going to be one skateboard road from Beeton through to Tottenham, and all the way up to Alliston.”

Foster wants development to stay off prime agricultural lands, and for the town’s three distinct downtowns to be preserved.

Beeton Coun. Stephanie MacLellan didn’t hold back her feelings.

“This is terrifying for me in a few different ways, because we have our water solution being Collingwood, who up until this point, , because we got surprised with that,” she said.

MacLellan also wants to ensure prime farmland is not lost, and she is also questioning how all of this new development would be serviced, noting it would require “billions” in new infrastructure.

“We don’t even have enough water to fulfil the settlement boundaries we have today,” she said. “, and unless some seriously huge big important decisions are made, we are not in a position to accept this growth.”

Alliston Coun. Fran Sainsbury, who is a former mayor of Whitchurch-Stouffville, talked about the possibility of the county taking over responsibility for water and wastewater services, like other regional governments.

“We are just like the little Dutch boy with his finger in the dike holding back the tide, and that’s what happened when metro came up to the boundary of Durham Region, York Region, Peel Region and so on,” she said. “And they were all farms, too, at one point in time.”

Tottenham Coun. Shira Harrison McIntyre wants to make sure development doesn’t take place in environmentally sensitive areas or on prime farmland.

“I think if we want to create walkable communities, healthy communities, then we have to try and build around existing infrastructure so that everybody can participate in services, and everybody can access services and amenities.”

She also wants to see a mix of housing types, and a transportation system that connects all communities.

Council passed a motion to come up with a list of priorities and forward the responses to the county as it continues to work on the review. Once the county makes a final decision on the growth targets, which may not be until next year, it will be forwarded to the province for approval.