So it’s blatant open season on rural Ontario communities then?: Annexation/destruction via Midhurst Secondary Plan.

May 1, 2014

Goodbye to an independent Township of Springwater, Elmvale and the old Vespra and Flos townships. Hello to the latest Barrie land annexation because it is open season on vulnerable Ontario agricultural communities.

Annexation map 2

It’s called the Midhurst Secondary Plan but its very name is a lie.

As all the other Ontario rural municipality staff and leaders know, it’s a precedent-setting, naked shift of power from rural to urban use that makes all provincial institutional stakeholders into lapdogs.

Problems are solved at the price of independence and a rural way of life if The Regional Municipality of Barrie is formed.

Background: The Harris government amalgamated two great agricultural townships to form Springwater: Vespra in the south (Barrie to Horseshoe Valley Road) and Flos (north of Vespra to include Elmvale). These were self-sustainig and prosperous communities.

County in 1954


Barrie was a little village in 1812 when the Penetanguishene Road was surveyed.

Penetanguishene Road

The last significant northern Barrie annexation required a bald-faced, shocking display of raw political power by the Davis government (Barrie-Vespra Annexation Act).

I was wrong in April 2012 when I suggested a war was been declared on Midhurst:

the spoils of this war are 100% of the former Vespra and Flos lands.

Growth is inevitable. We know that better than anyone. But really: listening to the soulless, BMW-heavy OMB and their pharisees you’d be tricked into thinking agriculture is  a coarse, less sophisticated, stupid 2nd rate industry. That the “city mice” have pulled a fast one.

Premier Kathleen Wynne: please, we’re all adults here. I ask you to exercise your authority, stop the behind-closed-door OMB deals,  and keep the dialogue in the public sphere where it belongs. With our First Nations friends, we’ve been at this agri-business and community work for several thousands of years. We’ve not only built a community of communities but in some tough conditions, attracted and nurtured winners in every field: agronomy, law, engineering, medicine, service, etc. Everyone deserves to be respected, to engage in a vigorous, open exchange of ideas about the future of our communities, to know that the fight isn’t fixed.

Wouldn’t you agree, premier?

In 1984, Barrie officially supports the province’s hostile annexation and financially hollowing-out of Vespra township

May 11, 2012

The William Davis government financially cripples the then-named Vespra (now Springwater) township, while giving more land to Barrie than it had asked for in 10 years of negotiations.

The Corporation of the City of Barrie starts off the resolution to the province with:

 The Corporation of the City of Barrie has unanimously endorsed the following resolution with respect to Bill 142 for the annexation of certain lands from the Township of Vespra…

An accompanying letter to the Honourable William G. Davis, Premier of Ontario states: “This was adopted unanimously by Council and it is intended to show the City’s support of the Province for the introduction of this legislation.

Council is aware of the difficult position that the Province had to make with regard to this dispute and would also like to commend them for their initiative to resolve this long standing dispute between two municipalities.”

Barrie had nothing to lose and everything to gain from a Queens Park unilateral law.

10. AND WHEREAS BE IT RESOLVED that the Premier of the Province of Ontario, The Honourable William Davis, be advised of this resolution and that he be made aware that:

(a) The Council of the Corporation of the City of Barrie fully endorses the actions of The Honourable Claude Bennett, Minister of Municipal Affairs, in introducing Bill 142 into the Ontario Legislature.

(b) We commend the General Government Committee, Chaired by Mr. Allan McLean, MPP for Simcoe East, for conducting a fair and impartial hearing on the annexation issue.

(e) We appreciate the efforts of The Honourable George Taylor, MPP for Simcoe Centre and Solicitor General of Ontario, in trying to bring this dispute to an end without further delay or the expenditure of future tax dollars.

(d) We regret that the Liberal and NDP Members of the Ontario Legislature did not support bill 142 at this time but we do encourage them to reconsider their stand on this issue and recognize that it is the only logical solution to a boundary dispute that has gone on for over 10 years.

(e) We request the Members of the Legislature give speedy passage of the third reading of Bill 142 as soon as possible to facilitate the end of the annexation application by the City and allow both Vespra and Barrie to govern their municipalities under the new boundary changes.

Vespra residents and political insiders would bitterly disagree with much of this resolution. Vespra won at the Supreme Court of Canada (twice) but lost +100% with the passage of Bill 142, the Barrie-Vespra Annexation Act, 1984.

If it Doesn’t Jingle, It doesn’t Count: Compensation was paid to Vespra township for 10 years. The amount was unilaterally decided upon by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing (Hon. Claude Bennett). Vespra lost 35% of their assessment revenue when Bill 142 passed. When Springwater township was formed in 1994, the northern area (former Flos township and Elmvale) have a much lower total assessment base compared to the south (former Vespra township, including Midhurst, Snow Valley, etc.)

The first time Barrie and Springwater township can “legally” talk about annexation is 2013.

Linda Collins council will reign until 2015.

Full excerpts of the complete May 1984 Municipal World article, City of Barrie Resolution re Bill 142: Annexation –  Readers Comment,  are available in Word and pdf at


When power collided with Vespra Township (supported by electors, county, law, & OMB), the result was noteworthy.

April 26, 2012

The law got changed. Unilaterally.

Bayfield McDonaldsF

In 1968, a commercial area was forming on Bayfield Street, just outside Barrie’s city limits in the Township of Vespra. Georgian Mall/Cadillac Fairview, a Towers department and Food City mall (where WalMart is now) , and a McDonald’s restaurant (see above)  were some of the early ones.

The Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, via the Barrie-Vespra Annexation Act, 1984, reallocated 35% of Vespra’s total assessment base (representing 90% of its commercial) to the City of Barrie.

The “Money Pump”.


A charming poem from a delightful book on sale at the Springwater Township offices.

The Mouse that Roared
(or Vespra Revamped)
by Anonymous

Once upon a time on the outskirts of a city,
Sat a pleasant little Township, with a special jewel so pretty;
It had everything one dreamed of, but the purpose of this rhyme,
Is to tell of its transition – to angry from sublime.

For the Township, though idyllic, was plagued with something more
In the form of Barrie City planted right outside its door;
And the city’s sights were lowered on that jewel so rare and plump
That all just bow before it – the Township’s “Money Pump”.

The Money Pump was plazas, with stores of every mode,
And spots to eat, or stoke your car when you are on the road;
But Barrie it was envious and reared upon its stump,
To tell the world it must annex that luscious Money Pump.

So it got the nod from Camelot and with fire in its eyes,
It fought a war before the Board to try to steal this prize;
The war went bad for Barrie; without hope to make it better,
But soon they got from Camelot, a most astonishing letter.

Now Darcy was the author, to the Board he did declare,
That soon this pokey City would be flush with people there,
So great this rush of people that the Policy should be,
To annex Township acreage, in perpetuity.

Foul! Yelled the Township voters who decried this blatant play,
How can words within a letter absolutely rule the day?
One might equally pontificate that Spring shall never come,
As dictate in a letter what size Barrie will become.

So the Township ran to Court Land to the Robed Ones from on high,
Who sit on Mount Olympus in their castles in the sky,
Due process was the winner, for as Zeus was quick to say,
“One can’t accept the Letter till the Township has its day”.

This trek to Mount Olympus took up, oh, so many years,
And a pocketful of pesos, and a truckload full of tears.
One might have thought that Barrie’s case would wither on the vine,
“But not”, said they. “Until that luscious Money Pump is mine!”

So back into the Chamber, to the Board mean Barrie sped,
And huddled in a Motion just to see what could be said.
“So here we are again, it seems we wish to forge ahead”,
But it was not a date they got, but the Money Pump, instead!”

Once more to Mount Olympus, the Township quickly ran,
Surely playing so one-sided just is not within the plan,
The Robed Ones told sad Barrie that the prize they had not won,
“You’re going to have to play against, start back at old square one.”

So back into Chamber, the parties once more flew,
And were equally, as quickly, dispatched as Irish Stew,
You’ll have to end this nonsense, the OMB rightly said,
You have your share, Oh, Barrie, so let’s put this goose to bed.

It was thought such admonition would fair well tie a noose
Around the wretched neck-frame of this legendary goose,
But no one lacked temerity like dangerous George Tayloo,
Who on hearing the decision turned a deeper shade of Blue.

So from Camelot, Fair Camelot, strode mighty George Tayloo
With head raised high up in the sky, he saw just what to do.
“You petty, petulant peasants, how dare you thus defy
The wisdom of the Letter that was dropped from up on high.”

With nary a tear and not a fear, George introduced a Bill
To simply take the Money Pump and send it o’er the hill
Right down into the City, and with extra acres too,
“I’ll teach you guys a lesson”, said the Mighty George Tayloo.

But out from pleasant valley, rose up honest folk galore,
They formed a group whose name was RAVE and drummed on every door.
Soon other voices joined them, and became a hearty roar,
‘Till mighty King Bill shuffled in and said, “I’ll hear no more”.

“This tempest in a teapot is creating quite a froth,
And whoever is the cause of it shall reap my tender wrath”;
But the folks were bRAVE and dug the gRAVE of Mighty George Tayloo,
Who lost his war and treads on more amongst the Chosen Few.

After George was put to pasture, City Councillors bit the dust,
But still the folks kept coming, their minds consumed in lust.
They overran the Kingdom, and crowned a brand new King,
Who decked in Christmas colours said, ‘The Township keeps the thing”.

Thus Peace returned to Camelot, like a raccoon to the dump,
And the pleasant little Township got to keep its Money Pump.
And the moral of the story, – one can say it in a thrice –
“Whatever else you do in life, don’t disturb the mice”.

(circa 1983)

p.s…But, nevertheless, ahead lay annexation…

A History of Vespra Township, The Vespra Township Council, p.130 – 1

The Township of Springwater will likely never see its 25th birthday.

April 25, 2012

Vespra Township had a good go at 157 years: 1837 to 1994.

Reeve Harry Adams 001

Progress. Beauty. Prosperity.

Rough and Ready Economic Questions


  1. Was the Township of Vespra economically sustainable before the Barrie-Vespra Annexation Act, 1984?
  2. Was the Township of Vespra economically sustainable after 1984 and before the Harris government amalgamation of 1994?
  3. Was the Township of Springwater be economically sustainable after amalgamation and before the Midhurst Secondary Plan zoning is approved?
  4. Would the Township of Springwater be economically sustainable IF the Midhurst Settlement Area’s tax dollars left?
  5. Would staff be guaranteed equivalent positions, salaries in the City of Barrie along with better career opportunities?
  6. Would Barrie agree to a friendly, negotiated  annexation of all of the Township of Springwater under terms that satisfied everyone’s interests (net the taxpayers’)?
  7. Would there be significant cost savings to the developers?
  8. Would the County of Simcoe approve?
  9. Would the Province of Ontario approve?


  1. Yes.
  2. Yes but barely. The annexation cut 35% of all total tax revenue out, notwithstanding underfunded compensation. Adding all the northern, low tax base land couldn’t have helped.
  3. Yes and no. It depends on how fancy your permanent civil servants want their administration and/or the marketability of converting agricultural land  for insiders.
  4. No.  Roughly, 60% of municipal taxes paid for by those in south Springwater (former Vespra including Midhurst).
  5. Yes.
  6. Yes.
  7. Yes. No need to build stand-alone water water treatment plant ($175 million, net the pipe cost) to hook into Barrie’s system.
  8. Yes. Especially the Wardens keen on government relations consulting.
  9. Yes. This is what a “Made in Simcoe” solution means.

A History of Vespra Township, The Vespra Township Council, Mika Publishing Company, 1987, p. 7.

Realistically, which should your trust more: verbal statments or written and published articles from municipal civil servants?

April 24, 2012

Corruption and conflict of interest laws are grounded on a simple legal principle: an individual cannot serve more than one master.

Excerpt from their website:

Municipal World is the oldest continuously published monthly municipal magazine in the world. Founded in 1891, the magazine is devoted to promoting effective municipal government.

This site features important information about local government, details about Municipal World’s products and services, and links to other local government resources.

A municipal employee owes a a duty of care legally to his or her employer: The Corporation of the Township of Springwater, for example.

They owe no direct or effective legal duty to any citizen.

While many professions have Codes of Ethics and complaint processes, these are often ineffectual. An untruth told by a senior staff person to a taxpayer is much more well insulated than if an elected official misrepresented the same fact.

  • Municipal World: Canada’s Municipal Magazine

Doug Hickling

February 2, 2012

Vespra Township Council, 1982-1985-1988.

Back (l. r.): Douglas Hickling, Councillor; Julian J. Tofts, Clerk Administrator; Robert Sporring, Councillor.

Front: Kenneth O’Brien, Deputy-Reeve, Harry B. Adams, Reeve; Russell Maw, Councillor.

A History of Vespra Township, The Vespra Township Council, Allan Anderson & Betty Tomlinson Anderson, Editors, 1987, p. 109.

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