COLLINGWOOD, ONT. -- The Town of Collingwood decided to expand the water filtration plant after concerns over a potential water shortage.

Mayor Brian Saunderson said the plant expansion would take years to complete. "With increased growth demands over recent years, we found that we will have water capacity issues to stretch out over the three years until the plant comes on line."

The town reports a 53 per cent population increase, most of that over the past five years alone.

At Monday evening's meeting, the town council took the unprecedented step of passing an Interim Control Bylaw (ICBL), effectively freezing all development for up to one year while solutions are considered. The bylaw aims to ease the pressures of the town's water supply amid an exploding population.

Robert Voigt, president of the Georgian Triangle Development Institute, said the impact of the town's decision on attainable housing would be staggering. Voigt added he was dumbfounded by the decision. "It relates to people's jobs - if you happen to know an electrician, a plumber or somebody involved in the trades in the region. This will impact them.

It also affects the town's ability to build infrastructure because they won't be receiving development charges that pays for all of this," he concluded.

Saunderson noted exemptions could be put in place to allow specific development permits to go forward while the ICBL is in place.

Meanwhile, the development institute said the bylaw jeopardizes the construction of more than 300 homes, many of which are already sold.