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City needs to annex 380 hectares of land from neighbours: report

Orillia doesn't have any existing land to accommodate growth as required by the province, posing 'a certain challenge' for the city
2021-10-27 Orillia growth plan annexation
This map shows the preliminary focused study area of potential land to be annexed from surrounding townships, shown in orange.

The city will be looking to its neighbours to annex about 380 hectares (939 acres) of land.

Council was updated on the boundary review process during a strategic planning meeting recently.

Under the province’s growth plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, the city must plan to accommodate a minimum population total of 49,000 as well as 26,000 jobs by 2051.

Orillia’s current settlement boundary is the same as its municipal boundary.

“It poses a certain challenge for municipalities like yourselves to accommodate growth to 2051 when you actually have no land to accommodate that within your actual corporate boundary,” said Gregory Bender, senior manager with WSP, the consulting firm retained by the city.

To expand the settlement boundary, annexation is needed, he said.

A report to council noted, “without additional land, the city’s current land supply for housing will be exhausted by 2030.”

There is a need for 257 hectares of community land and 124 hectares of employment land, meaning 381 hectares in total will need to be added via annexation.

A preliminary focused study area has been determined and includes land in Oro-Medonte, Ramara and Severn townships. The total area of land being looked at in the study area is 14,660 hectares.

WSP is undertaking a technical land evaluation and will eventually narrow down the study area and make recommendations to council about annexation. Those recommendations won’t be made before consultations with the public and stakeholders have taken place. That process is expected to begin in November.

Coun. David Campbell asked about the likelihood of the city annexing one area or a variety of areas from neighbouring townships.

“It’s whatever makes the most sense. You don’t necessarily want to create an expansion area, a pod of uses, adjacent to your existing boundary and just lump a bunch of uses in there. It has to be contiguous and appropriate based on your existing land-use policies,” Bender said.

“In theory, I doubt it will be one particular area, but we haven’t gone there yet. We’re not limited to any one or two particular areas.”

Coun. Jay Fallis noted the townships have some areas near Orillia’s borders that already include settlement. He wanted to know if they would be considered when looking at annexation.

“We are not looking to impact the adjacent municipalities’ existing settlement areas,” Bender responded.

“We’re also looking to avoid lands that have been developed.”

During the meeting, council authorized Mayor Steve Clarke to ask the province for more time to bring the city’s Official Plan into conformity with the province’s Places to Grow Act.

The province amended that act in 2020, requiring all municipalities within the Greater Golden Horseshoe area to bring their Official Plans into conformity with the growth plan by July 1, 2022. The city is asking for an extension to July 1, 2024.