We will no longer be supporting IE7 and below as a web browser effective June 1st 2020. Click here for more information.

Sign In
Skip Navigation LinksSimcoe County > MCR

Municipal Comprehensive Review

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​MCR small.jpgINTRODUCTION

The County is undertaking a Municipal Comprehensive Review (MCR) in accordance with the Provincial Growth Plan, A Place to Grow: Growth plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe (Office Consolidation 2020)

The MCR is a specific planning process used to bring an Official Plan (OP) into conformity with the Growth Plan. It establishes the ov​erall pattern of development and environmental management in the County and sets the stage for more detailed local planning. The MCR will apply to the 16 Local Area Municipalities in the County, and excludes the Cities of Barrie and Orillia, both of which are separated Cities.

Various policy matters are impacted by the MCR and will result in updates to the County OP. One of these updates will deal with growth management, because the County is required by the Province to plan for a population of 555,000 and 198,000 jobs by 2051.   A key component of the work being undertaken in this regard is a Land Needs Assessment to determine how much growth can be accommodated in the existing settlement areas and whether additional land is needed.

The MCR will also include a review of Provincial policies and plans on the following matters, with the product of the review being the preparation of topic-specific technical reports and recommendations to address:

  • refinements to the provincial natural heritage system;
  • refinements to the provincial agricultural land base;
  • growth management;
  • employment;
  • climate change; and
  • watershed management.

The County awarded the MCR contract to Hemson Consulting (Hemson).

Hemson as the lead consultant has put together a multi-disciplinary team of professionals to address the various components of the MCR as follows:

  1. Provincial Natural Heritage System Review and Refinement – North South Environmental Inc.
  2. Provincial Agricultural System Review and Refinement – DBH Soil Services Inc.
  3. Employment Strategy – Hemson Consulting and Cushman Wakefield
  4. Climate Change Strategy – Hemson Consulting and Laura Taylor Designs
  5. Watershed Management Strategy – Wood Environmental & Infrastructure Solutions Inc.
  6. Growth Management – Hemson Consulting
  7. County Official Plan Amendment(s) - Meridian Planning
  8. Communications Strategy – The Planning Partnership, Meridian Planning, and Nbisiing Consulting

The MCR will be implemented through a County Official Plan Amendment or Amendments, with each having to be approved by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, after first being adopted by County Council. 

The MCR will be completed by working collaboratively with County staff.  Engagement during the MCR process will ensure that the Province, Local Area Municipalities, Indigenous communities, County Council, Conservation Authorities, the general public, and other stakeholders are informed of ongoing work and technical reports and material as it becomes available.  Stakeholders will be involved throughout the MCR to understand and review the mapping and recommendations from the various technical inputs.

The County is committed to respectful, meaningful and collaborative engagement with First Nations, Métis and Indigenous communities throughout this process to understand interests, rights and views. Throughout the process, the County will respect specific your community processes and/or official protocols for engagement, as well as important perspectives and culture in relation to the lands and water to help guide us through this long-range planning project.


​Special Meeting of Council (Virtual)​​

Subscribe to Receive Future Project Updates

If you would like to be kept informed of projects updates, including information on how to provide input and comments on specific components of the MCR, please click the button below to enter your contact information.

Subscribe Button.png



The work includes a number of technical studies. The work for each of the technical studies will be done in three phases. Phase 1 includes the review of existing information, including mapping. Phase 2 includes refinements to mapping and preparing draft recommendations. Phase 3 includes the preparation of the topic specific technical reports that will include final recommendations and mapping. The technical studies will be prepared in collaboration with the local area municipalities, the public and stakeholders.​



Agricultural System Review and Refinement UpdateAgricultural System Review and Refinement Update<p>​<span style="font-size:1em;">​​​​​​O</span><span style="font-size:1em;">ne of the c</span><span style="font-size:1em;">omponents of the County's Municipal Comprehensive Review (MCR) is a review of the location of the prime agricultural area in the County. Prime agricultural areas are characterized by fertile soils where most of Ontario's crops are produced which support the broader agricultural system.</span></p><p>The Growth Plan further indicates that the responsibility for the mapping of prime agricultural areas rests solely with the Province.  Provincial mapping locates a continuous and productive land base comprised of prime agricultural areas, including specialty crop areas and rural lands, as well as a complementary agri-food network that together enable the agri-food sector to thrive.  Further information on the work completed by the Province can be accessed through this <a href="http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/landuse/agsys-ggh.htm" target="_blank">link</a>.  <br></p><p>It is the Province's expectation that their mapping of prime agricultural areas in Simcoe County be implemented in the County Official Plan.  Until then, the current mapping showing prime agricultural areas in the County Official Plan continues to apply.  However, before the Provincial mapping is implemented, the Province allows for a one-time opportunity to refine the Provincial mapping at the time of a MCR based on implementation procedures issued by the Province.  These implementation procedures can be accessedthrough this <a href="http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/landuse/imp2019.pdf" target="_blank">link​</a>.  <br></p><p>The Agricultural System Review and Refinement Update will identify the differences between the Provincial mapping and the current mapping of prime agricultural areas included within the Simcoe County Official Plan and local Official Plans.  Once the extent of the differences is known, the Consulting Team will conduct an assessment to determine whether changes are required to the Provincial mapping and why. The product of this work will be updated prime agricultural mapping that will be incorporated by a future Official Plan Amendment into the Simcoe County Official Plan.</p><p>Included in this Amendment will be updated policies on agricultural uses, agriculture-related uses and on-farm diversified uses as well. Given that the boundaries of prime agricultural areas in an Official Plan can only be modified at the time of the MCR, it is anticipated that there will be interest on the part of landowners and others in this process. Consultation will be a key component of this project and opportunities to review the work completed and ask questions will be identified through this process. ​<br><br></p>
Natural Heritage System Review and Refinement UpdateNatural Heritage System Review and Refinement Update<p>​​​​The refinement of the Provincially mapped Growth Plan NHS is part of Simcoe County's MCR. In support of the policies of the Growth Plan, the Province has mapped a Natural Heritage System (NHS) as a long-term approach to planning for the protection of the Greater Golden Horseshoe's natural heritage and biodiversity. The provincial NHS mapping can be accessed through this <a href="https://can01.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https://geohub.lio.gov.on.ca/datasets/natural-heritage-system-area&data=04%7c01%7cIshan.Maggo%40simcoe.ca%7c0fe73ab4acee47fd7e9608d8d9c9a880%7cbaae52565a7340f28c4d76f3ae971463%7c1%7c0%7c637498807422263299%7cUnknown%7cTWFpbGZsb3d8eyJWIjoiMC4wLjAwMDAiLCJQIjoiV2luMzIiLCJBTiI6Ik1haWwiLCJXVCI6Mn0%3D%7c1000&sdata=9uZLPdqDuYfYPaQOTTYmgKZNBVOSJ3Hio8dTgJqN7xI%3D&reserved=0" target="_blank">link</a>.<br></p><p>The NHS is made up of core areas which are comprised of natural heritage features and areas. These core areas are linked by natural corridors (linkages) intended to provide connectivity (at the regional or site level) and support natural processes which are necessary to maintain the long-term viability of ecological systems.<br></p><p>According to policies of the Growth Plan, municipalities are required to incorporate the Growth Plan NHS mapping and policies within Official Plans. However, there is an opportunity to refine the Growth Plan NHS at the time of initial implementation. The Technical Report on Criteria, Rationale and Methods for the Growth Plan NHS provides guidance to municipalities to make minor, technical refinements to the Growth Plan NHS, in a manner that is consistent with the Growth Plan. The Technical Report can be accessed through this <a href="https://can01.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https://www.sdc.gov.on.ca/sites/MNRF-PublicDocs/EN/CMID/GrowthPlan_NaturalHeritageSystem_TechnicalReport.pdf&data=04%7c01%7cIshan.Maggo%40simcoe.ca%7c0fe73ab4acee47fd7e9608d8d9c9a880%7cbaae52565a7340f28c4d76f3ae971463%7c1%7c0%7c637498807422273296%7cUnknown%7cTWFpbGZsb3d8eyJWIjoiMC4wLjAwMDAiLCJQIjoiV2luMzIiLCJBTiI6Ik1haWwiLCJXVCI6Mn0%3D%7c1000&sdata=NuAoArGBFfmOD0FP0ujNbG85P1hVLjZP7cmS47sfXmg%3D&reserved=0" target="_blank">link​</a>.​<span style="font-size:1em;">​</span></p>
Watershed Plan EquivalentWatershed Plan Equivalent<p>​​​One of the components of the County's Municipal Comprehensive Review (MCR), is a Watershed Planning (WP) component to inform growth planning, which will include formulation of the Water Resource System (WRS). A Natural Heritage System (NHS) Review will be concurrently conducted and integrated with the WP and WRS.<br></p><p>The Draft Provincial Watershed Planning guidance document “Watershed Planning in Ontario – Guidance for Land-use Planning Authorities", 2018, as well as the Growth Plan and Greenbelt Plan, acknowledge the concept of information in existing documents being deemed to be “equivalent" and thereby offering the opportunity for re-use in supporting growth planning.  As such, the WP for the Simcoe MCR will be considered an “equivalent" document building upon existing databases and knowledge, particularly from area Conservation Authorities and Local Area Municipalities (LAMs).<br></p><p>Information from the past studies and other on-going work will be reviewed to support the area characterization and used to inform growth scenarios, leading to management guidance at the tertiary and quaternary watershed scales. <br></p><p>The Watershed Plan Equivalent will provide insights into high-level constraints, best practices, management requirements and future studies. Furthermore, through the study's overall consultation program, the Watershed Plan Equivalent document will summarize stakeholder-driven issues, particularly in priority growth areas, as defined by Simcoe and the Local Area Municipalities. ​<span style="font-size:1em;">​</span></p>
Growth Management and Land Needs AssessmentGrowth Management and Land Needs Assessment<p>​​​​In conjunction with the release of the updated Growth Plan, the Province published the final version of a revised Land Needs Assessment (LNA) Methodology that upper-tier and single-tier municipalities are required to use in determining future land needs. The objective of the work will be to determine how much future growth can be accommodated within the existing settlement areas and then to identify how much additional land will be needed to accommodate the remaining amount of growth. Close coordination with local municipalities, who will be providing key information on the feasibility and most appropriate location for settlement boundary expansion, is a must.<br></p><p>Developing the new LNA is a key element of Simcoe's Municipal Comprehensive Review (MCR) process and, in keeping with the Province's new Methodology, will be organized according to two broad land use categories: land for community needs, mainly focused around housing, and land for employment uses.<br></p><p>The Growth Management and Land Needs Assessment will be an important technical background study for other elements of the MCR. In particular, the Employment Land Strategy will be closely integrated with the LNA work. <br></p><p>A number of relevant policies and targets that affect land budgeting have changed as a result of the recent Growth Plan amendments:</p><ul><li>The time horizon for growth planning has been extended from 2041 to 2051.<br></li><li>The Growth Plan now requires that the County use the newly prescribed Provincial Land Needs Assessment Methodology for the Greater Golden Horseshoe. Of great importance to the County MCR is that the new Methodology requires that land needs be assessed with reference to “market demand" in Simcoe.</li><li>Schedule 7 to the previous Growth Plan, which established population and employment forecasts to 2031 for lower-tier municipalities, has been removed from the current Plan.​​</li></ul>
Climate Change StrategyClimate Change Strategy<p>​​​​​​The existing land use planning framework in Ontario has undergone significant changes in the past decade to include climate change mitigation and adaptation. Increasing awareness of the role local governments can play in climate action is now clearly reflected in provincial legislation and policy. The County and its local municipalities are now tasked in the Municipal Comprehensive Review (MCR) with updating their own policies and plans to guide development and change in a changing climate. The Climate Change Strategy will be a key document providing the background and context for climate change policies appropriate to Simcoe's planning and development challenges.<br></p><p>The Strategy will assess provincial climate change policies and policy conformity requirements including the <em>Planning Act </em>and Provincial Policy Statement (updated with climate change policies in 2014) and with the Growth Plan, Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan and Greenbelt Plan, all updated in 2017 to address climate change as a result of the coordinated plan review. As appropriate, other provincial guidance will be addressed, such as the Made in Ontario Environment Plan (2018) and forthcoming work on climate change impact assessments, as appropriate. Changes to the Green Energy Act also have had implications for local decision-making about the siting of renewable energy. Also, the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan review is reportedly about to be underway, with climate change adaptation already a major concern of the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority (LSRCA), providing additional information and guidance tailored to issues facing Simcoe.<br></p><p>Existing County and local municipal plans and policies related to climate change will be reviewed and integrated into the analysis. Official plan policy can set the stage for a County's approach to climate action. The opportunity here is for climate action to be integrated from the beginning as future expansion areas are planned providing the opportunity to encourage lower emissions at all scales of development.​<span style="font-size:1em;">​</span></p>
Employment StrategyEmployment Strategy<p>​​​​An important component of the Municipal Comprehensive Review (MCR) is the preparation of an employment strategy for the County and its 16 local municipalities. The major focus of the work will be on determining the adequacy of the existing amount land in the Employment Areas and the need, if necessary, to identify additional land for designation and other suitable land for the longer term.​<br></p><p>A number of special considerations will play a role in the study. Firstly, Simcoe, with Barrie and to a lesser extent Orillia, will experience a level of growth second only to the Region of Waterloo in terms of the Outer Ring municipalities located within the Greater Golden Horseshoe. A considerable amount of the growth will congregate around Highway 400 but smaller communities may also accommodate a significant share of growth. Secondly, while not necessarily sources of major employment growth, the County contains several large unique facilities that collectively account for a significant proportion of the County's employment base: the Honda plant in Alliston; Canadian Forces Base Borden in Essa; the maximum security jail and the Provincial psychiatric hospital in Penetanguishene; and Casino Rama in Ramara.​​<span style="font-size:1em;">​</span></p>