The petition calls for the planning of what’s referred to as “15-minute communities,” which aim for all residents to be able to access all of their essential needs by walking no more than 15 minutes.
Other calls to action that were outlined in the petition include protecting and enhancing the county’s natural and cultural heritage, increasing affordable housing, promoting an economy that’s focused on small, local businesses, creating a local food ecosystem and taking climate change into account when making all decisions.
“Sprawl is very costly for municipalities and for residents in reducing quality of life and affordability,” Margaret Prophet, the executive director of the Simcoe County Greenbelt Coalition, said in a statement.
“While the county is considering how it should develop communities, we wanted to ensure that the future health and affordability of Simcoe County is top of mind. With the most severe climate impacts still to come for this region, now is the time to move towards healthier, more sustainable communities — not just more of the same.”
Prophet said the groups she works with and represents are tired of seeing growth unnecessarily remove farmland and greenspaces. She acknowledged that changes won’t happen overnight but said officials can make decisions now that will affect community members for the next 30 years, which coincides with net zero targets by 2050.
Currently, the county is undergoing its first stage of public consultation within the municipal comprehensive review process as part of Ontario’s provincial growth plan. The review process will establish development patterns and environmental management in Simcoe County, providing background to help with local planning.
At present, the county is required by the Province of Ontario to plan for a population of 555,000 and 198,000 jobs by 2051.