The County of Simcoe’s Environmental Resource Recovery Centre (ERRC) project will not be granted a minister’s zoning order from the province.
Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Steve Clark was in Oro-Medonte Township on Thursday with Premier Doug Ford for a groundbreaking at the Oro Station Automotive Innovation Park.
Clark was asked by BarrieToday about the minister's zoning order (MZO) process, as two projects in Oro-Medonte have been granted MZOs locally: one for Burl’s Creek and another for the Oro Station Automotive Innovation Park.
There are three more projects in Oro-Medonte currently in the process of obtaining local support to apply for an MZO: a Crestwood Park project, McLean Park, and a new Medical Innovation Park project planned for Line 7.
When asked about criticism that MZOs may be used to circumvent the public consultation process, Clark brought up the ERRC project in neighbouring Springwater Township.
“No projects currently going through the Local Planning and Appeals Tribunal process are being considered,” said Clark, pointing to the county’s ERRC project as an example. “We’re going to let that process run its course at the LPAT, but we are going to work with local communities.
"It has to start with co-operation at the municipal level," he added.
Simcoe County Warden George Cornell told BarrieToday that the province’s denial of an MZO for the ERRC project has not yet been officially communicated to the county, but that he was aware of it through a delegation county representatives had at the recent Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) conference which took place earlier this week.
“Minister Clark told us he was not in a position to deal with us on an MZO as the matter was before the LPAT,” said Cornell. “I think we need to look at that response and better understand it before we’re in a position to make a comment at this time.”
The ERRC waste processing project, to be located in Springwater Township, north of Barrie, has been in a holding pattern while it goes through the LPAT process. The project was first proposed by the county in 2010 as part of its waste-management strategy.
The facility would receive the county’s organics and recycling to be broken down into compost, fertilizer or fuel.
After the county said it considered more than 100 sites for the facility, they applied to the province for permission to build the facility in the middle of the Freele Tract of the Simcoe County Forest after receiving approval on the location from Simcoe County council.
The province approved the county’s request earlier in 2019 and granted an Official Plan amendment to allow the facility in the forest.
Three local groups appealed the decision to LPAT, stating publicly they don’t oppose the ERRC project as a whole; they only oppose the site chosen by the county in the middle of a Simcoe County Forest.
That appeal is still working its way through the process.
For more information on why the County of Simcoe applied for an MZO, click here.