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  • OMB decision on Fraser Proposal

OMB dismisses Fraser Development appeal

It was worth the wait!

On October 6, a year after the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) concluded its hearing into the proposed “Fraser Property” development east of Burleigh Falls, the Board issued its decision.

The OMB ordered that Burleigh Bay Corporation’s (BBC) applications to amend North Kawartha Township’s Official Plan and Zoning Bylaw be denied and that BBC’s appeal to the OMB be dismissed.

The decision protects the 6.2-kilometer undeveloped shoreline and two Provincially Significant Wetlands (PSWs) from a 58-unit housing development and 72-slip marina, with extensive recreational facilities, road network and parking areas.

The development was proposed on 273 hectares (675 acres) of mostly forest and wetlands, containing an estimated 450 different species of flora and fauna. A number of these are endangered or threatened.

The Board cited the location of the development “in and around” the PSWs as one of the most compelling reasons for denying approval, and noted many issues relating directly or indirectly to water quality.

The OMB found that the development was not consistent with the policies of the Provincial Policy Statement (PPS) and the County Official Plan as they relate to the protection of natural heritage resources, and especially the PSW Complex.

These were key points addressed during the hearing by expert witnesses on behalf of the Friends of the Fraser Wetlands (FFW), by the Environment Council for Clear, Ston(e)y and White Lakes and by other individual participants.

It is clear from the OMB’s findings that the proposal did not pass the “no negative impacts” requirement set out in the PPS. In summary, the Board found that the proposal did not represent good planning, nor was it in the public interest.

The Board noted the “consistently large contingent of concerned local residents of the Stony Lake area” and individual participant’s concerns about issues such as increased boat traffic and its impact on water quality, aquatic species and safety.

We believe the OMB’s findings in this case are extremely important, not only because they protect a large and irreplaceable natural area on our lakes, but also because they provide clear reference points for decision-making on other possible developments in sensitive areas.

The future of the “Fraser Property” is unknown, but we are hopeful that a way will be found to preserve it in perpetuity, and that no new development proposal will be put forward.

We are encouraged by the OMB’s finding that only two of the 58 proposed lots were not adjacent to at least one PSW “pocket” or part of a PSW, and the fact that the protection of PSWs was so central to the Board’s decision-making.

The Environment Council is deeply thankful for the work of the FFW Board of Directors, Curve Lake First Nation, FFW’s legal counsel, who were very helpful to us, and FFW’s amazing team of tireless volunteers, all of whom were critical to achieving this wonderful positive result.

Thanks also to the many donors who contributed to FFW, and to the other lake associations and individual participants for their support.

The OMB decision is an important victory for protection of our lake water quality, wetlands and natural shore lands and the wildlife they nurture – and for our lake community. It shows what can be achieved when many people become informed and actively involved.

 

 


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