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Innisfil’s new Orbit transit hub receives MZO approval from Ontario government

Dubbed the Orbit, the community will combine "small town and rural lifestyles" with the "benefits of urban living," with a new Go station at its centre. Town of Innisfil

The Ontario government has created a ministerial zoning order (MZO) to designate land in Innisfil for the town’s future transit hub called the Orbit, which will see a new GO station surrounded by a more urban-looking community.

On Monday, Innisfil officials said the MZO will help expedite the construction of the new GO station, in addition to the planning for the surrounding Orbit neighbourhood, and will help stakeholders to secure private investment for the project. The town also said the MZO will support economic recovery as Ontario begins to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read more: Innisfil, Ont., looks to speed up planning, construction for new transit hub

“Our government is proud to work with our municipal partners to get one step closer to building a new Innisfil Go Station that will provide convenient transit to this growing community — at a lower cost to taxpayers,” Ontario’s associate transportation minister Stan Cho said in a statement.

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“Through the transit-oriented communities program, we are building critical, reliable transit that is connected to vibrant, live-work-play communities that benefit individuals, families and businesses.”

However, on Tuesday, the Ontario NDP caucus criticized the province for granting an MZO for the Orbit.

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Jeff Burch, the NDP critic for municipal affairs, said Innisfil residents and all Ontarians “will pay the price” if wetlands and farmlands are built on and infrastructure costs rise.

“Ford is granting this MZO on environmentally-sensitive land,” Burch said in a statement. “There is no way to justify bypassing the standard environmental planning process for a development proposal of this scale.”

The provincial NDPs said the MZO effectively allows for a new city that’s roughly the size of Barrie —  about 150,000 people — to be built on rural farmland that’s home to fewer than 40,000 people.

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Read more: Innisfil has plans for a futuristic development

Toronto-based architecture firm Partisans is the consultant on the project. Vaughan-based Cortel Group is the developer.

The new transit hub and surrounding Orbit community will be built around the area of 6th Line and the Metrolinx Rail line.

The development is aimed at incorporating the principles of sustainability, placemaking and culture, technology and economics.

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