Friday, November 17, 2017

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Canadian Publications Agreement No. 40727545

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Fraser Wetlands decision made

 

October 13, 2017

 

BY TERRY GILLIS

 

As was reported in the July 22 edition of the Lakefield Herald, in 2012, Vancouver-based developer Ronald Dick of Burleigh Bay Corporation made an application to North Kawartha for a 58-unit housing community on the historic 700-acre Fraser Estate on Stony Lake.

Local residents and business owners banded together and formed the group Friends of the Fraser Wetlands (FFW) in order to share information and research and to advocate for the property’s essential wetland features and its significance as a cultural heritage landscape.

After North Kawartha failed to adopt the Applicant’s request to amend the zoning by-law, Burleigh Bay Corporation made an appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB).

On Oct. 1, 2015, Burleigh Bay Corporation appeared before the OMB requesting a review of their Application on the grounds that the County of Peterborough failed to make a decision and that the Township of North Kawartha failed to adopt the requested amendment to the Official Plan.

The application for the draft plan of condominium was to the County. The application for the OPA and the rezoning were to the Township.

During the pre-hearing, the Applicant and the Township were represented by counsel. The County did not take a position.

There were two requests for party status. One was from the Friends of the Fraser Wetlands lnc. The other was from the Curve Lake First Nation.

On September 13, 2016 the four-week OMB Hearing concerning the Burleigh Bay Corporation’s application to develop the Fraser Estate began.

The final OMB decisions was announced on October 6, 2017: The OMB  denied the developer’s application and appeals. The two provincially significant wetlands and Blanding’s turtle habitat are to remain undeveloped.

According to the Friends of Fraser press release of October 6, the Board [OMB] cited the location of the development in and around the PSWs [provincially significant wetlands] as one of the most “compelling” reasons for denying approval. The Decision endorses the testimony of FFW expert Mr. Gord Miller, former Environmental Commissioner of Ontario, who testified that wetland complexes must be afforded a higher degree of protection and cannot be isolated.  The Board held, “As Mr. Miller stated, ‘the stakes are high’ given the significance of endangered species, a complex ecological system of entwined elements and functions and highly sensitive wetlands” on the site.

“Our Elders asked us to save this wilderness and all the species in it, to respect the ancestors and the land they frequented many years ago.  These historic reminders were told at Council and at the hearing, and evidence is still in abundance all along the north shore of Stoney Lake,” said Chief Phyllis Williams of Curve Lake First Nation, a party to the 19-day hearing, supported by the Alderville, Hiawatha and Scugog First Nations. The hearing took place partly on the Reserve, a first for the OMB.

“The decision is a new roadmap for land-use protection for Provincially Significant Wetlands and Blanding’s Turtle habitat,” said David Donnelly, counsel to FFW and Curve Lake First Nation.

 “Given that the Township produced no environmental evidence and there is no Conservation Authority in the area, the decision vividly underscores the necessity and value of citizen group participation in protecting the planet,” Donnelly added.