Lake News Archive
Deerhurst Proposal: PLA's response to the
Huntsville Planning 2013
Deerhurst Proposal - full report
2012 Regatta Survey
Pen Lake Farms Nature Reserve.. How it came to be
OMB Dismisses House Quarry Motion for Review
July 2007 Letter to Members
OMB News - Updated
President’s Message Spring 2007 – Len Ross
The OMB Rules no Quarry at Pen Lake
Still waiting for OMB Ruling On Quarry
No Further Questions...." Friday, July 21, 2006
Counting down to the OMB 26 June, 2006
Update to Winter WRAFT Report – April 2006
WRAFT Report, Winter 2006, Issue 5
Pen Lake Quarry Hearing Resumes This Summer
Quarry Hearing Re-Scheduled For July 2006
President’s Message December 2005 – Len Ross
September 2005 Peninsula Lake Lake Plan Update
Township Rejects Quarry...Again!
House Quarry Application Township of Lake Bays File: Z39/05
Ontario Municipal Board Hearing Stalled
The “Quarry/OMB” Summary of the Situation (Joe Doyle 11 Nov 05)
Further Background to this Situation (Joe Doyle 11 Nov 05)
Pen Lake Farms Nature Reserve:
How It Came To Be ……
Dan McKeon & Wim Magee
For the past 20 years the Lamon and McCann families have owned the 125+ acres of land between Maplehurst Road and Shaws Road. Their intent has been to keep this property in its natural state, permitting no development.
One evening, about one and a half years ago, Dan McKeon and Chuck Lamon attended a gathering and a conversation ensued – that the Lamons and the McCanns wanted to place this property into a trust. After further discussion it was suggested that the Peninsula Lake Association might like to be involved as the caretaker/steward of this trust, to be called the Pen Lake Farms Nature Preserve. Dan contacted Wim Magee to see if he would work with him to achieve this goal.
We contacted our lawyer, Tom Pinckard, who came up with three or four scenarios as a way to complete the plan. After many meetings with the three of us and the owners, we presented the various possibilities to the P.L.A. Board. The board accepted involvement in the recommended plan. This was to partner with the Muskoka Heritage Trust and proceed, pending the approval of the Lamon and McCann families.
After many further meetings with Tom Pinckard, the donor families, Russ Black of the Muskoka Heritage Trust, the Lake of Bays Council, Janet Peake, Mayor, and Stefan Szczerbak, the Township Planner, the desired format was finalized and enthusiastically accepted by all. The property was surveyed, an appraisal was completed, a technical advisory site visit was conducted, and the information obtained was shared. A review by the working group led to a viable proposal acceptable to the Lamons and McCanns. This plan was presented to the P.L.A. Board. There was unanimous agreement to move forward and complete the process.
A suggestion had been made at the onset that the families might wish to provide ownership of a piece of the property to the P.L.A.; this would be separate from the land owned by the Trust and not subject to the very limited and restricted use of the Nature Reserve. The Lamons and McCanns have now separated and given approximately 2 acres to the Peninsula Lake Association. The remaining 124 acres is owned by the Muskoka Heritage Trust with a 25-year renewable agreement that the P.L.A. will act as the stewards of their land. The property will be a protected private nature reserve, which may be enhanced with trails and tree planting etc. A board, with representatives from the donor families, the Muskoka Heritage Trust, the P.L.A. and the Township will manage, review yearly, and report on the reserve. This has been a win-win for everyone involved!!
On November 20th, 2007 the Lake of Bays Council met and approved the severance, providing the Peninsula Lake Association with 1.8 acres of land. The conditions attached will be resolved very shortly, and this portion of the process will be completed.
We are pleased to have handled this process on behalf of the PLA members. We are overwhelmed at the generosity of the Lamon and McCann families in their vision to protect this area for the benefit of the residents of Peninsula Lake.
A final report will be completed for the Spring Pen Notes. Further information is available from Dan - firstname.lastname@example.org or Wim- email@example.com
We are thrilled to report that the OMB has dismissed the Motion for review and change brought to the OMB by Huntsville Granite Supply Inc. (Kristian House) (the appellant). This motion was heard by OMB Chair, Harold Goldkind, on Sept. 9, Oct. 16, and Oct. 17, 2007.
Mr.Goldkind’s Decision upheld Ms. Karlene Hussey’s Decision, released February 14, 2007. He found that her Decision was “reasonable and provides sufficient analysis and reasons”. Furthermore, Mr. Goldkind stated that “the important issues have been identified, examined and dealt with”.
The Motion for review and change brought forth by the appellant identified three areas which were examined in detail at the Hearing. The appellant submitted that there were errors in fact and in law as well as new evidence.
Mr. Goldkind ruled that there were no errors in fact or law and that Ms. Hussey’s Decision was consistent with both the Provincial Policy Statement and the Official Plan of the Township of Lake of Bays. In addressing the matter of new evidence, Mr. Goldkind stated that “This panel finds that the appellant has not satisfied the terms of Rule 115(e) for the purpose of a change to the Order of the Board or a new hearing.”
Mr. Goldkind concluded with the statement that “The Motion under s.43 of the Ontario Municipal Board Act is therefore dismissed.”
This Decision is a victory for our Association and the Township of Lake of Bays. It affirms our decision to oppose the establishment of a quarry in a most inappropriate location. It affirms the commitment of the Township to uphold their Official Plan, which emphasizes the importance of the character of the area. Most importantly to the members of the association, it affirms the importance of our vision for our community as outlined in the Lake Plan.
We thank the Township of Lake of Bays, the Mayor, Janet Peake, the councillors, their planner, Derrick Hammond, and their lawyer, Michael Fitton, for their unwavering support and dedication to this cause. We are very grateful to our lawyer, Barney Kussner, and our planner, Janet Amos, for their professionalism, hard work and expertise in developing the case and presenting the evidence. We thank the “No Quarry” team who began their struggle to preserve our lakeside environment in 2002, and who have worked tirelessly ever since to coordinate this case.
Above all, we thank all the members of the Association, the Hillside neighbours, the Lake of Bays Association and the other interested citizens who have contributed so generously to help us achieve our goal. Without your support and your donations, this outstanding environmental victory would not have been possible. We stand as an example of community cooperation and environmental advocacy that will be emulated throughout the province. We are proud that the Peninsula Lake Association has worked so diligently to preserve and protect our community.
Jean Fraser (President)
on behalf of the Board of Directors
Peninsula Lake Association
Please take the time to download the OMB decision.
July 15, 2007
Another exciting summer at Peninsula Lake is now under way, and two successful events, the July Ladies’ Luncheon and the Men’s Cocktail Party have kicked off the festivities. Remember to print off your Calendar of Events from your Pen Notes and mark the dates on your calendars, so you won’t miss any of the great events. Regatta weekend and the regatta dance are coming up on August 4. Keep in mind that in order to participate in the sporting events, a waiver must be signed and parents must sign for children under 18.
On the business side of our association, we have a number of ongoing important matters. On July 9, your association held a Special Information Meeting to explain recent developments in the OMB Motion for Review of the quarry Decision. The date for this Review has now been set for Friday September 7. The meeting will be held in the Council Chambers of the Township of Lake of Bays Offices in Dwight. Our legal council and our planner have already been retained and your board has approved a budget of $25,000. We have already raised approximately $7000 and therefore our fundraising team is currently seeking $18,000 to reach our goal. The Township of Lake of Bays plans to vigorously defend the Decision, and will be represented by its lawyer and planner.
The Decision by Ms. K. Hussey of the OMB has been heralded by environmentalists and local councils as a precedent setting case, in which the importance of good planning was taken into prime consideration. We are proud of our members and our response to this cause. Once again, we are asking for your financial support to fund this appeal and hopefully bring this matter to a conclusion. A contribution of $200 or more from each family would ensure that our expenses are covered. Moreover, our bank account would be replenished and monies would be available for other important projects as they develop.
Our Annual General Meeting will take place at the Hidden Valley Ski Club on Monday August 6 at 9:00 a.m. (coffee and donuts at 8:30). We will elect our new executive and discuss current issues and concerns. We are looking forward to seeing you there.
THE O.M.B. REVIEW HAS BEEN SET FOR SEPTEMBER 7TH AT 10:00 AM IN THE TOWNSHIP OF LAKE OF BAYS COUNCIL CHAMBER
The Peninsula Lake Association is proud to be one of the most forward looking community associations in the province. Let us maintain our reputation and status and ensure that this Decision is upheld. Please give generously to support this important cause.
Have a great summer!
President, Peninsula Lake Association
May 7, 2007
Members and Friends,
We were still celebrating the OMB Decision by Ms. K. Hussey, released on February 14, 2007, when we received news that on March, 14, 2007, Mr. D. White, lawyer for Kris House, had filed a request for a review of the Decision to the OMB.
On April 17, 2007, Ms. Marie Hubbard, Chair of the OMB, responded to that request by stating that “the request may meet one or more of the eligible grounds for review” and directed that “a motion hearing to decide whether to review the Decision be scheduled before a different member of the Board.” The date for this one day review hearing has now been set for Wednesday August 8, 2007.
Your executive met as soon as possible after hearing this news. All members present at the meeting were unanimous that we should take all necessary steps to defend the Decision. They agreed that we should retain both our lawyer Barnet Kussner, and our planner Janet Amos to represent our association. Board members also emphasized that it is important that we remain strong partners with the Township of Lake of Bays.
Len Ross immediately contacted Barnet Kussner and Janet Amos, both of whom are more than willing to defend this important Decision. Janet Peake, Mayor of the Township of Lake of Bays, has assured Len that the township intends to vigourously oppose the rezoning of the property in question, and to defend their Official Plan. Ben Boivin, our local councillor, has also been contacted and fully supports our position.
Jean Fraser (Secretary),
Peninsula Lake Association
What is happening at the lake? A few highlights are: Don Henshaw is working towards putting the finishing touches on an amazing social calendar, Tony Moffat is looking forward to discussing shoreline plantings, Paul Hutchinson is keeping our working relationship with the Township of Lake of Bays in excellent shape, Dan Mckeon is doing a similar function with the Huntsville Lakes Council and Wim Magee is looking after the website and trying to make it meaningful for each member of the PLA. Not to just focus on the board; John Brenciaglia is reviewing the Lake Plan for improvement, Bill Wright is getting set to put in the buoys for another season and Jim Marshall will be looking for more ways to keep track of the health of our
Along with the weather the quarry has been playing heavily in our discussions and it promises to be headlined again well into this year. On Feb. 15/07 we received notice that the OMB had ruled against the establishment of a quarry overlooking Peninsula Lake. With that decision many years of hard work by so many loyal and dedicated Penlakers was rewarded and a collective sigh of relief could be heard around the lake. I would like to thank everyone who contributed to this cause, the “no quarry team”, the fundraisers and you the members of our association. Because so many people gave freely of their time and their resources, I would be at a loss to name names; it might just be easier to publish our membership list and let everyone thank their neighbour. However, that said, the unflagging devotion to the cause by the Doyles (Joe & Pat), as well as Cathy Purvis, did keep us focused on the goal. The end result of so many months of hard work was summed up by the OMB as follows: “The Board finds that the character of the rural residential area and the character of the lake and its surroundings would be altered by the presence of the dimensional stone quarry in that location. The Board finds that the proposal does not constitute good planning. Accordingly, the Appeal is hereby dismissed.”
Well, we thought that was the end. I guess one should not say never because the lawyer for the quarry has requested that the decision be reviewed and the OMB has agreed and August 8 has been set aside for that review. In anticipation of this one-day hearing your board has committed itself to vigorously defending our winning position. We have also scheduled June 9 to give as many of you as possible a first hand overview of the OMB’s decision and to share our optimism about the outcome of this review.
Welcome back to the lake for another summer; please feel free to contact myself or any other member of the board regarding how we can improve your association.
President, Peninsula Lake Association
Great news for Peninsula Lake, its area residents and many friends throughout Muskoka and around the world who were part of the effort to prevent industrial development close to its shores. Seven months after the hearing, the OMB has dismissed the landowner’s appeal.
A decision released by the Ontario Municipal Board February 14th, 2007 (Order #0400/Case #PLO50088) has found that a dimensional stone quarry proposed for a site “in close proximity to and overlooking Peninsula Lake” would unacceptably alter the character of the lake, its surroundings and nearby rural residential areas.
The Board has ruled that this quarry proposal in this particular location, does not represent good land use planning and conflicts with Official Plan policies for the Township of Lake of Bays, in particular those dealing with the need to preserve vistas and panoramas, the character and heritage of the area. Further, the Board found that this proposed development would conflict with the vision of the Peninsula Lake Plan requiring preservation of the historical character of the lake and its tranquil ambience.
The Board identified the most contentious issues as visual impact and noise. Much of the Board’s finding flows from testimony regarding the previous unauthorized quarry operations on this site six years ago. In addition to evidence from the Hillside Community, there was extensive evidence from lakeshore residents on noise and visual impacts which convinced the Board that quarrying at this site on the knob of a hill would significantly affect the local community and its residents and could not easily be mitigated. Additionally, the Board distinguished this proposed new quarry operation from several others long-established and operating in the area without such adverse community impacts.
The Chairperson, having considered all the evidence presented in more than three weeks of public hearings (involving 76 exhibits and 36 witnesses, including technical experts but also many area residents who were part of a well-attended evening session), determined that the specific location was more than problematic, it was inappropriate.
Noting that the proposed quarry operation had been significantly amended and adjusted over the years (eg. the extraction area reduced from 11 hectares to just over six, while annual tonnage dropped from 50,000 to 18,000, etc.) with the aim of reducing potential impacts, the Board found that the character of the lake and its surrounding would be altered and that the applicant could not overcome the limitations imposed by this particular site.
This OMB decision appears to be a complete vindication of the many objections to this fundamental change in land use as put forward by various community and other groups as well as local politicians.
In short, all those actively opposed to this quarry development have won. No doubt this has been a long and difficult and costly struggle, but our patience and persistence has been rewarded.
Our heartfelt gratitude goes out to the many hundreds of individuals, families and organizations---especially the Peninsula Lake Association and the Township of Lake of Bays---who could grasp the importance of this cause, and the need for a coordinated, concerted effort to prevent this degrading development while seeking to preserve the natural environment which is the basis for our common future. Thanks to each of you, as well as the caliber and focused resolve of our professional teams, Pen Lake and its surroundings will be spared the “banging and clanging” of a quarry near its shores and the visual blight that would go with it for more than 60 years.
Everyone who contributed to this successful outcome can take genuine pleasure in knowing what has been achieved. This ruling by the OMB means the character of Pen Lake and the surrounding community has been preserved, and also that the vision and planning efforts over many years by waterfront residents as well as the broad community within this Township have borne real fruit. That’s certainly good news for all of us, but most importantly it means future generations will not be strangers to the priceless natural beauty and peaceful ambience it is our privileged to enjoy today.
The Committee for No Quarry @ Pen Lake
16 February, 2007
P.S. If interested, the OMB decision is attached….it makes for interesting reading Additional information will be posted as it develops on the website for the Peninsula Lake Association (www.penlake.ca)
(Issued November 1, 2006)
We all continue to wait very patiently, and with measured optimism, for the final decision on the proposed rock quarry near Pen Lake. However, there have been no significant developments since our July update immediately following the public Hearings. Of course, as soon as we have it we’ll let you know the result.
That ruling could come anytime now, so perhaps its appropriate to reflect a moment on what’s been accomplished.
It was just one year ago this week that the OMB Hearings began into the appeal by Mr. Kris House, a recent purchaser of land in our neighborhood/community wanting to start a new quarry. He was objecting to the unanimous decision by our elected township Council denying rezoning of his property (from rural to industrial), as now required to start any new quarry. This local Lake of Bays decision had been made precisely three years ago this week (November 2003) by our previous Council, as many of the hundreds who attended that session will recall.
Then last winter, following the unexpected adjournment of the OMB Hearings due to a jurisdictional technicality, the current Council again reviewed this proposed quarry application, once again rejecting it unanimously. Now, we are on the cusp of a new Municipal election, which will mean yet another new local Council this month as we continue to wait for the OMB’s final determination in this matter. This has certainlycertainly been a lengthy struggle to prevent an unnecessary encroachment of industrial development and its negative effects into the tourist/recreational and residential community at Pen Lake.
Regardless of the final outcome, the essential point we want to make at this time is that this effort has actually been a remarkable example of solid, focused grass-roots community-based activity on the part of the entire Pen Lake community, its immediate neighbours and the broader community within Muskoka. As such it represents a unique attempt to put meaning into words such as “preserve and enhance” our environment, the very words which guide the activities of your Peninsula Lake Association...and of course, the heart of Pen Lake’s “Plan” for the future.
Our case opposing this new quarry now has been made, and we believe it was made very well. That was possible only because of broadly committed support within this area, for the values outlined in the Pen Lake Plan as well as the Municipal and District Official Plans (to which so many area residents have actively contributed over the years). Most remarkably, given the daunting costs required to resist undesirable development---to preserve and protect our environment---our case was made without resort to any form of debt or any bridge financing at all. And, we’re pleased to say, it was made within budget. In short, whenever case developments (such as the unexpected OMB adjournment one year ago) required additional funding, those funds were provided through many generous donations---large and small---from a broad range of supporters. That says a lot about the tremendous character of Pen Lake, because at the end of the day we think that no lake is stronger than the characters who are prepared to protect it, to actually act to “preserve and enhance” it.
This case has surely been a test of sorts for the Pen Lake community and its neighbours. And it has not always been certain that we could or would fight as well as we have. Its been said that defeat is an orphan, while victory has many parents. At this time, waiting for the OMB ruling, we all can take pride and comfort in a fight well fought for a wonderful and valuable cause. And while we certainly hope to win, of course that was never a certainty. Indeed, that fact alone makes the response by this community, by everyone who helped, even more incredible.
Now, with our battle essentially over and before the verdict is in, we simply say again to each of you on behalf of the Committee for No Quarry@Pen Lake: “Thank you so much for your care, your concern for our common cause, your encouragement and for all of your contributions that have taken us to where a we are today….patiently waiting for the OMB ruling.”
Pat and Joe Doyle, Jean Fraser, Tom Jeruzalski, Catherine Moffat, Dick Morse, Cathy Purvis, Len Ross
With words to that effect, yesterday afternoon both sides in the Quarry case before the Ontario Municipal Board left the matter in the hands of OMB Chair Karlene Hussey, who indicated “it will take some time to make a decision” following a review of all evidence presented. While these hearings concluded one day ahead of schedule, they have lasted two and a half weeks (in two sittings spanning nine months due to a previous adjournment for technical reasons).
In that time, the appellant (Kris House, aka #1497039 Ontario Ltd., o/a Huntsville Granite Supply, etc.) had his specialists from the aggregate industry vigorously make the case that provincial policy protects aggregate resource development above all other interests, and therefore he should be permitted rezoning of his property from rural to an industrial classification…so he can begin a new operation supplying ornamental stone to meet local demand.
Throughout these hearings various adjustments in the scope of proposed quarry operations were presented to the Board. These were presented as an attempt to reduce adverse impacts, overcome community concerns (including Pen Lake Association and Lake of Bays Association) and objections by the Township. Some instances amounted to a “nip” here and a “tuck” there, while others were potentially significant (eg. elimination of a rock “crusher” and a “guillotine” splitter on-site, abandonment of retail activities, etc.).
Certainly the proposal now before the OMB is somewhat better than the one Mr. House presented to the Township Council as a “model for the quarry industry”. As you’ll recall, it was the unanimous rejection of his original application by our elected officials as well as planning staff in 2003, which led to Mr. House’s OMB appeal. In the current proposal now being considered by the Board, for example, extraction areas have been radically altered---the hilltop knoll remains intact, tree buffer zones added, tonnage more than halved, retailing eliminated, etc. Additionally, at long last, in the course of this hearing, many “unanswered questions” first raised when this quarry operation began without authorization during the summer of 2002 (eg. noise effects on Pen Lake due to sound movement over water, etc.) have been considered. Our experts have confirmed the concerns of ordinary eyes and ears. So, after four years, many but far from all operational questions regarding this proposed quarry have been clarified if not precisely answered.
However, while many of the proposed adjustments can be construed as concessions favourable to our position, from our perspective they simply do not go to the heart of the matter. In simplest terms, as you know, our basic argument is that this is an inappropriate location for a rock quarry (and related activities) within sight and sound of a recreational lake due to fundamental and irreconcilable incompatibility. It would be seen, and it would be heard in an unreasonably intrusive way. It would impair and diminish interests, which were here long before this quarry concept. So, it would be “bad planning”.
This Township, this District, and our own Lake Plan, have all identified the pre-requisites of “good planning”, among them the protection of the natural environment---in particular, the panorama of skylines and vistas near the water---as well tranquility, the peace and quiet we all value so highly. Those values, and their defense, were the very core of our case. In that sense, our own Lake Plan was before the OMB along with the Official Plans for the District of Muskoka and the Township of Lake of Bays.
We have no objection to responsible aggregate development or use, however the specific property for this proposed rezoning, given its elevated topography oriented towards Peninsula Lake as well as its proximity to Hillside’s residents, should not be permitted to operate as a rock quarry.
In a much more detailed and sophisticated form, this position was articulated comprehensively and in a highly coordinated manner by the Township, the Pen Lake Association, the Lake of Bays Association, the Hillside Neighbours, the Walkers. We are very pleased and proud of the overall case that has been made on behalf of all of us. And so, for us, the only unanswered question that truly matters at the moment is the one now before the OMB: will a rezoning be allowed and a quarry operation permitted to begin?
Of course, in the context of an OMB hearing, it is the complex evidence of experts on a host of issues and concerns, focused on highly technical aspects that make up the bulk of any case such as this. It would be inappropriate and imprudent to attempt to summarize the evidence presented during these hearings, except to say there was a great deal of it---dozens of photos, maps, diagrams, drawings, letters and legislation, along with an array of policies and plans, rules and regulations. All set out in seventy-five exhibits and reams of testimony. But we do want to highlight the fact that our expert consultants and witnesses were, in a word, excellent in making our case. Those for the other side were, in our view, expert in the realm of aggregates. One telling indication of the relative merits of our case, we suggest, is the fact that the appellant felt compelled to recall a number of his witnesses in rebuttal to evidence from ours. That extended these hearings beyond our anticipation, but it also gave us a strong impression that our case had made a considerable immediate impact.
As the OMB Chair has indicated, there is a lot of evidence to review. We leave that to her now. Frankly we would be surprised if any decision will be rendered before the end of summer. That’s merely a guess on our part, and an uneducated one. A decision could well come much sooner or much later. We really don’t know, except to say there have been many points of law raised and other aspects which we believe will require time and study we believe, prior a decision. In the interim we remain cautiously optimistic, and extremely grateful that our case has now been made as thoroughly as we believe it has, and as effectively as we hope and trust the result will ultimately prove.
To conclude this Update marking the end of the formal OMB public process, we want to briefly mention two highlights from these hearings, which stand out in our minds amidst the vast crop of technical evidence and often testy debate over the past few weeks.
First, we had a good turnout of at least one hundred folks for the “Special Public Forum” on the evening of July 13th where twenty individuals spoke passionately about this quarry and its impact. Two of these were local landscapers wanting easier access to stone for step-making, not wanting to keep customers waiting, and suggesting it was “us” creating a need for this quarry. Every other speaker opposed this quarry development. Their views ranged widely, from those who had felt a very direct impact from the previous illegal quarry operations during summer of 2002 (when windows were shut, bedrooms relocated, patios vacated and trips taken to escape “at home” noise effects) to eloquent reflections on Muskoka’s natural beauty and the particular character of Pen Lake’s special qualities. Throughout a powerful theme was evident: a need to preserve and enhance these features because of historic and well established importance in the fabric of family, community and social life as well as attractions for tourists.
At that evening session the OMB also heard from planner Randy French on the background for development of our Lake Plan which has since become replicated in many waterfront communities throughout Ontario. As well, representatives of the Huntsville Lakes Council and the Muskoka Watershed Council addressed the OMB, each of whom managed to raise these issues and concerns beyond “the NIMBY” syndrome to a broader context of lake living in Muskoka, as did the presentation by Lake of Bays Association to the OMB yesterday, during closing arguments for the final minutes of these hearings. Cumulatively these remarks underlined the significance of this case, not just for Peninsula Lake but for all of Muskoka’s future and indeed lake living throughout the province.
We feel very gratified by this broad public expression of support and want to sincerely thank everyone who made the effort to attend that night as well as any of the daytime hearings. But particular “thanks” must go to each of those making presentations on our behalf, including all witnesses and other participants at these hearings. It was most encouraging to have friends with us. We should point out that a number of our Councillors and our Mayor and planning staff have been with us as well, especially Ben Boivin. In advance of any decision, we are extremely grateful to anyone and everyone who assisted our cause, but in particular Barney Kussner and Janet Amos who have been there for us and with us throughout, in thick and thin, providing strong leadership always.
The second highlight came last Monday (July 17th.) when the OMB Chair accompanied by representatives from both sides of this dispute toured the proposed quarry site (where, among other things, a year-round cold water creek flowing into Pen Lake---not properly identified on the original proposal--- could be seen, along with predominately deciduous tree cover which will leave the property exposed for much of the year). A lengthy boat ride on the lake followed that, where various “homes” and “cottages” (identified in technical reports as mere “receptors”) were pointed out in relation to the proposed rock quarry site. We hope the OMB Chair was able to get a reasonable sense of our lake, however, those of you who were on the water that afternoon will recall no doubt the windy turbulence and unusual choppy waves that preceded a very stormy night which knocked out trees and power for miles around. Not the storm of the century, but less than a perfect day for a lake tour for sure. Everyone aboard, including the OMB Chair, made it to shore a little damper than when we took off. We trust that those weather effects won’t be held against us.
That’s where we will leave this matter until the decision. Our case has been made now, and it wouldn’t have been without your backing. We continue to believe that our objections to this quarry development were necessary, and are correct. And we strongly feel that the outcome will be important, not only to Pen Lake but well beyond.
With your help and support our team has done its best. Each of us involved in the effort to stop this quarry---and there are too many helpers to name---are most grateful to each of you. Feel free to contact any of us or your board for further information if you have any further questions.
And now, while our case rests with the OMB, let’s all enjoy summer.
Click here for the Quarry Committee for the Peninsula Lake Association.
Moving swiftly into the “Dog Days” of summer, it is hard to realize that in just two weeks the Peninsula Lake Association will again join other interested parties and participants in concert with the Township of Lake of Bays to oppose the permitting of a new large rock quarry near Pen Lake.
Five long years after our first introduction to this unwelcome proposed development, the scheduled ten day OMB Public Hearing, so crucial to the future character of Pen Lake, begins in Dwight at the Community Centre at noon Monday July 10th, concluding by July 21st.
All members of the community are welcome to attend at any time. It would be wonderful to see you there since an audience provides a tangible and often helpful display of broad public concern. In particular, and very important to our cause, is the Public Forum which has now been firmly scheduled for the evening of Thursday July 13th (time TBA) in Dwight. This special session will give individuals and organizations with views on the proposed quarry development a chance to convey them directly to the OMB, much as was done for the Council of Lake of Bays Township in 2003
when more than two hundred turned out. Please mark the evening of July 13th on your calendar, and if possible plan to attend. For further detail or information about this special Public Forum or the daily OMB sessions, please contact Pat & Joe Doyle at 705-635-2656 or firstname.lastname@example.org .
As a result of your on-going financial support we’re very pleased our team of expert consultants is again in place, committed and coordinated as they gear up to provide relevant, focused and strong evidence about the adverse impact of the proposed quarry development.
We want to acknowledge again the unprecedented and most generous support received to date. These many, many donations---large and small, from over four hundred individuals, families and groups---provide the basis for our communal defense of the lake. Your contributions, along with those of your family, friends and neighbours, give real meaning to preserving our recreational heritage and protecting our natural environment. Thank you all.
Indeed, we wish it were possible to provide appropriate recognition for every donor at this point; however, that will come very soon. We can tell you, as we move closer to the OMB Hearing, that there is no bigger thrill for us than visiting the Pen Lake Association’s mailbox and finding not only contributions to the cause but also some very kind words of encouragement. We have been not just encouraged, but truly amazed to find substantial donations from families very new to our lake. And of course, given our need for additional funding due to the false start at the OMB last year, we have been especially gratified that many of our early supporters are making additional contributions at this time. (One who did suggested that if all previous donors made an additional gift amounting to 20% of their original offering we would easily make our target.)
As we “count down”, we are getting closer everyday to meeting our fundraising goal. It is within sight. We are almost there, but not quite. More help is needed now. We must come up with approximately $10,000 more between now and the end of these OMB Hearings.
If you haven’t yet contributed, or would once again, it is not too late and we can assure you that the last dollar raised will be just as important as the first. Our most recent campaign could certainly use additional support if you are so inclined, and we remind you that donor forms are available at the Pen Lake Association’s website at www.penlake.ca . (These forms must be completed in order to provide appropriate acknowledgement and public recognition as well as a valuable income tax receipt).
Now is a critical time, one last chance to make our case. With your continuing interest and support we’ll make it. We’re counting on you.
The Quarry Committee for the Peninsula Lake Association
- A few weeks ago the Ombudsman issued his scathing report on the assessment procedures at MPAC. For details of the report go to www.ombudsman.on.ca/english.asp. WRAFT put out a press release following the issue of the report calling for the shelving of the 2005 assessment. It is posted on our website. While, as expected, the Ombudsman’s report does not deal with the underlying inequities in the present property tax system, it does seriously discredit the whole assessment methodology, providing yet more ammunition for an overhaul of the basis for distributing property taxes in Ontario.
- In the winter WRAFT report, we described PC Finance Critic Tim Hudak’s private member’s bill to cap assessment increases. On April 13, this bill gets second reading. There will be a press conference at 10:00 am at Queen’s Park and the bill will be debated in the House at 11:00 am. We encourage representatives of members to attend both of these events. Please let us know if you can attend. (email@example.com) WRAFT supports the Hudak bill which limits future assessment increases to 5% per year.
- We keep asking our members to write their MPPs, and many have done so. Whether you have or have not sent a letter or email, please follow up with email to the Finance Minister with copies to Tim Hudak and to WRAFT. The pressure for reform is building. You can do your part to help.
- Most municipalities set their tax rates based on financial needs. If total assessments in the municipality are up, then the municipal tax rate should decline accordingly. The education tax rate has already been reduced to offset the provincial assessment increase. If your municipality is taking advantage of higher assessment to simply hold the tax rate rather than lower it, you should take action locally. Also, please let us know, because it is further ammunition in our fight for capping assessment increases.
Our apologies for being a little late with our Winter WRAFT Report. While its late it does bring some good news, unlike the report drafted a month ago. On March 1, MPP Tim Hudak, PC Finance Critic, introduced a private members bill to the legislature, proposing to cap future assessment increases at 5% per annum until there is an arms length change of ownership. While it does not provide any relief for tax increases experienced to date, including those resulting from the 2005 assessment, it brings the system under control for the future. If the bill became law and your 2006 assessment was up 30%, for tax purposes it could only go up by 5%. This makes future tax levels more predictable. WRAFT strongly supports the PC initiative and will work hard to help move it forward. For details of the bill go to www.ontla.on.ca/documents/Bills/38_Parliament/session2/b075_e.htm
What follows is a summary of what we’ve been up to since we reported to members in the fall.
Downloading and Uploading
- We’ve continued to press Queen’s Park to set aside the 2005 assessment and do a serious study of reform alternatives as proposed by WRAFT last April.
- In October the Ontario Ombudsman responding to thousands of complaints from property owners announced an investigation of MPAC, focusing on “the alleged lack of transparency in the property assessment system and the integrity and efficiency of the decision making process”. We have met twice with members of the investigating team, provided evidence of wide disparities in the assessment process and encouraged a broadening of the investigation. The Ombudsman’s report is expected in mid March.
- In December we met with the ten members of the PC caucus including the leader John Tory and Finance critic Tim Hudak. We had a good hearing and a useful exchange of ideas. A number of PC MPPs represent areas that have been hard hit by assessment increases. We believe this meeting helped encourage development of MPP Hudak’s capping proposal.
- We have obtained a breakdown of 2005 average increases in assessment by municipality for waterfront and non-waterfront properties. We have also learned that, on a province-wide basis, of the 8% of residential properties up over 30%, two thirds were on waterfront. To put it another way, 38% of waterfront properties were up over 30% while only 2% of all other residential properties were up over 30%. This strikes us as a rather startling statistic and clearly highlights the massive impact of the 2005 assessment on the waterfront share of property taxes. We also looked at the impact on specific lakes in the Districts of Parry Sound and Haliburton. The assessment hit smaller lakes in particular, in many cases with average increases exceeding 50%.
- We continue to get copies of letters you have sent to your MPPs but not enough of them. Please write to your MPP if you haven’t already. Its critical in our effort to raise understanding of the issues among the politicians and the public.
A large chunk of social service costs were downloaded by the previous provincial government onto municipalities a number of years ago. Those costs include public health, ambulance, social assistance, senior services, child care and social housing. The Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) estimated that the cost, net of municipal subsidies, amounted to $3.2 billion in 2003. If this $3.2 billion was uploaded back to the province, where it belongs, this could reduce the municipal taxes province-wide by 18%.
There is growing support across the province for these social service costs to be transferred to the province and paid out of income tax revenues. WRAFT clearly backs such a move but if it occurred tomorrow and if municipal taxes were reduced accordingly, the fundamental issue of distributing taxes based on assessment still remains.
A broader alliance
A couple of things have become clear in the past few months. On the one hand the Ontario Liberal government believes the present assessment-based property tax system works and, despite promises to the contrary in the 2004 Liberal budget, they’re not planning to change it because of pressure from what are considered an “elite” bunch of waterfront property owners. On the other hand it is increasingly evident that unhappiness among property owners, with the volatility of assessments and with the performance of MPAC, is becoming much more widespread, in particular since the issuance of the 2005 assessment.
Two years ago we made the decision to go from a Muskoka-based group to a province-wide coalition of waterfront associations. As we indicated at the WRAFT Annual Meeting last November, it’s time to take the next step. WRAFT is now involved, along with some urban ratepayer coalitions, in building a new and broader alliance to fight for property tax reform and it will invite all interested ratepayer groups, municipalities and others to join us in our effort. We will keep members informed of progress. We have retained Jim Maclean of Tactical Advice/Strategic Communications to help get our message out and on the lobbying side George Boddington of government relations firm Policy Concepts has donated the resources of his firm to our efforts.
Actions you can take to reduce your taxes
Challenging your assessment
If you feel you have any kind of a case, we recommend you file a Request for Reconsideration (R for R) and/or an Appeal. Go to www.wraft.com for guidance on the process. We can provide you with some encouraging statistics for the 2003 assessment in Muskoka. Three percent of residents filed an R for R and 51% of those got some reduction in assessment. Less than 1% of residents filed an appeal and one third of those were successful. In other words, the effort can be well worth while.
Getting Tax Relief
Section 365. (1) of the Ontario Municipal Act reads as follows:
365. (1) The council of a local municipality may, in any year, pass a by-law to provide for the cancellation, reduction or refund of taxes levied for local municipal and school purposes in the year by the council in respect of an eligible property of any person who makes an application in that year to the municipality for that relief and whose taxes are considered by the council to be unduly burdensome, as defined in the by-law. 2001, c.25, s.365 (1).
We don’t believe this section has been used frequently but if a 60% assessment increase in 2005, for example, leads to a 40% tax increase in 2006, this could for many residents be considered “unduly burdensome”. Applications for relief would also help draw attention to the serious inequity being imposed by our present assessment-based property tax system. You could certainly start by enquiring of your municipality how they would treat such an application.
As you now know, our long struggle to prevent a new rock quarry near Pen Lake will finally be decided when the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) resumes public hearings in Dwight for two weeks beginning Monday July 10th. 2006. It is expected that one evening session, possibly Monday July 17th. will be scheduled for comments from community members. As always, your attendance and participation is encouraged.
Thanks to many generous donations from families within the Pen Lake community and beyond we were well funded ($175,000) and prepared for the initial round of OMB hearings which began last fall.
Unfortunately, those hearings ended unexpectedly after three days when the OMB realized that the Lake of Bays Township zoning by-laws to control such industrial operations had been repealed and replaced by new legislation. While evidence previously submitted remains on record this unexpected “technicality” disrupted the OMB process and has had a serious negative impact on our financial base. We will require an additional $35,000 when the hearings resume. Why?
Briefly, four reasons:
We are assured that no further issues or other adjustments detrimental to our case are expected, and our consultant team remains committed to our cause.
- On-going adjustments to the proposed quarry have required additional re-assessment by our expert consultants;
- Repeal of the relevant zoning by-law has required a re-assessment of our case in terms of its replacement, and an additional presentation to local council;
- Duplication of case preparations by our experts and witnesses stemming from the adjournment and re-scheduling of OMB hearings;
- Significantly higher accommodation expense for expert witnesses attributable to a summer hearing (High Season).
Our concerns of vulnerability and jeopardy with respect to quarry development are increasingly shared by similar communities in areas throughout Muskoka District as well as other parts of Ontario.
In a recent (Spring 2006) newsletter to the membership of the Lake of Bays Association, lawyer Karl Jaffary explained why LOBA remains committed to supporting the Township and the Pen Lake Association in opposing this quarry development:
“A problem identified at the hearing is that most quarry operations in Ontario are governed by a statute called the Aggregate Resources Act, but that Act does not apply to Lake of Bays Township. Under that Act, when a permit is issued for the extraction of aggregate, various “notes” on the approved plans become binding regulations of the quarry operator. These notes include such things as hours of operation, and the quantities of extraction proposed…It is far from clear how any of those matters could be regulated in an area where the Act does not apply; certainly they go far beyond the Township’s ability to regulate under a site plan agreement….(LOBA) intends to at least present arguments in support of the position that the Township Official Plan is a good reason to reject the quarry proposal.”
Recently letters asking for individual donations (tax-deductible) were mailed directly to all members of the Pen Lake community. Those who have not yet supported this cause were asked to help, while the majority who had already contributed were asked to consider giving more if they could.
With the case before the OMB looming, our pressing need is for donations now to conclude the presentation of our case. We will have to meet our objective of $35,000 by the start of summer (Canada Day) at latest, and so we are again asking for your help.
The quarry proposed for the hills near Pen Lake has proven to be a major challenge. Efforts to protect and preserve our environment in today’s world of rapid change and development pressures are never easy and seldom inexpensive. But, as our Lake Plan documented, they are important to us all. At the end of the day, the defense of our lake falls to us.
Soon, this struggle will be over and done. By the end of this summer we will know whether or not Pen Lake will have a new industrial quarry within sight and sound of its shores.
For all your support and encouragement, we are most grateful.
The Quarry Committee for the Peninsula Lake Association
(Pat & Joe Doyle, Jean Fraser, Catherine Moffat, Cathy Purvis, Len Ross)
Article Date March 8, 2006
Following adjournment of the OMB Hearings last November, there was another unanimous rejection of a revised quarry application in December by Lake of Bays Township. In response the property owner filed another appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB). The OMB has now scheduled resumption of the public Hearing into this matter for two weeks next summer, starting Monday July 10th. in Dwight and concluding on or before Friday July 21st.
While public attendance is invited for every day of these Hearings, we fully expect there will be one evening session available to provide an opportunity for direct input on this topic from lake residents, cottagers and others in our community. Although that hasn’t been scheduled yet, one possibility is the night of Monday July 17th. Certainly, we will advise you as soon as we have confirmation. Public attendance and participation at that time will be a vital aspect of our effort to prevent this new industrialization of our community.
The issues and concerns for consideration by the OMB will be the same as previously raised, and the question of whether a new rock quarry within sight and sound of our shores is appropriate will finally be decided.
We are pleased to indicate that our team of expert consultants has now been confirmed for the conclusion of this Hearing. John Coulter on acoustical aspects, Janet Amos on environmental planning issues, the hydro-geological team of William Stiebel and Michael Lord from the firm of Jacques Whitford Associates will again be helping us make our case under the direction of land use legal specialist Barnet H. Kussner of the firm Weir-Foulds LLP.
And, of course, we expect to continue our close coordination with the Township of Lake of Bays through these Hearings as they defend the decision by our elected Council to deny this industrial re-zoning.
Regrettably however there have been unfortunate consequences arising from the unexpected adjournment of the Hearings last fall. Among them, on-going revisions to the proposed quarry application through the proceedings to date, as well as a need to take into consideration recent changes in the local comprehensive zoning by-law. These have meant not simply delays for our case but additional costs as well, despite our best efforts to minimize all negative impacts.
We are now preparing a revised budget for this important cause, and will be consulting with the Board of Directors of the Peninsula Lake Association to develop the necessary steps to properly prepare for these July Hearings.
Incidentally, we are assured that tax receipts for charitable donations during 2005 have now been mailed. If you have questions about yours please contact the Association’s Treasurer Tom Jeruzalski (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Finally, some of you are aware of recently proposed legislation in Ontario which could significantly alter the operation and approach of the OMB if passed. We have been asked whether these changes might assist our case in some way. As we understand it, this matter must proceed under the current law and so unfortunately we can expect no relief from these new proposals for reform of the OMB process.
Of course, whenever there are further developments in this case we will be emailing updates as well as posting them on the Pen Lake Association’s website (www.penlake.ca).
Thanks again for all your help, keen interest and tremendous support with this. We are deeply grateful and remain confident that with your continued backing we can win in July.
The Quarry Committee for the Peninsula Lake Association
(Pat and Joe Doyle; Jean Fraser, Catherine Moffat; Cathy Purvis; Len Ross)
The Township of Lake of Bays has once again rejected the application for the establishment of a quarry overlooking Peninsula Lake. This rejection bodes well for the Peninsula Lake Association, however, that doesn’t end it because it is expected that the applicant will once again appeal this decision at the Ontario Municipal Board. This “No Quarry” fight is difficult and complex, but in an attempt to keep all of you in the picture, please see the new information that has been posted on this Web site. In particular, I am referring to the latest news from the “No Quarry Team” and a copy of a letter that our planning consultant Janet Amos sent to the Township of Lake of Bays. Together, these two documents provide the most up to date information regarding the quarry situation. Should you have any questions please feel free to contact any board member or any member of the “No Quarry Team.”
Regarding the “No Quarry Team,” the efforts of Joe Doyle, Pat Doyle and Cathy Purvis deserve a vote of thanks from all members of our Association. Their tireless work has been instrumental in preserving the tranquility that we all have come to expect within our lakeside community.
In closing, I thank all of you for the support that you have given to the Association, and wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
This report is to update the status of those projects specified in the Lake Plan that have been initiated. Many more could be started if new members would be willing to lead them.
The projects are listed with the numbering used in the Lake Plan.
Update Official Plans
The Township of Lake of Bays has approved and adopted into the Official Plan those policies of the Peninsula Lake Plan that are to guide development and redevelopment on the lake. The reference to the Peninsula Lake Plan in the Official Plan will also ensure that the character of the Lake that its residents want protected is officially documented.
The Town of Huntsville has just issued a draft Official Plan. The Association has commented on the policies of the draft and urged a prompt inclusion of our Lake Plan in a manner similar to that followed by the Lake of Bays Township.
Site Plan Control
The Association has worked with the planners of Lake of Bays and Huntsville to implement Site Plan Control Agreements on two redevelopments that were critical to the protection of our lake, in North Portage and Morgan’s Bay.
Pen Notes continues to be our main way of informing the membership on activities and concerns around our lake. A website has been under development for a long time. It is finally implemented and our directors and members are learning how best to use it for two ways communication and education on issues.
We have found that workshops and specific activities (both social and stewardship) have been enjoyed as a means of updating specific sectors of our membership on the status of our knowledge of the lake and the impact that we have on the lake. However, many of the members that we would like to reach with these activities do not participate in them. An excellent suggestion of developing a network of street captains to maintain contact with their neighbours is still hindered by lack of enough volunteers.
A committee has set criteria for awards, published them in Pen Notes and asked for nominations. Three have been awarded to recognize good stewards in the preservation of our natural heritage, the protection of the lake from damaging development, and the careful management of redevelopment impacts. Much remains to be done to increase the number of nominations and expand them to contractors and real estate agents. To this purpose the awards have been presented at our AGMs and published in articles on local papers.
We have distributed and planted 600 seedlings a year on the shores of our lake. Young members of our families have been encourage to participate in this activity and soon we will be able to judge and reward those that have been most successful in nurturing the growing trees.
We have held a workshop on this specific topic, led by a researcher who had studied the health of some of our streams . As a follow-up to the workshop we have carried out a benthic monitoring event on the McCredie Creek that flows from the massive development at Woodland Heights. Repeated annual events will enable us to judge the impact of deveolopment on the wetland head of this stream.
For a few years we have recorded sightings of loons on our lake. We were quite happy to see that the loon population seems to be self-sustaining, with an adequate number of young chicks reported.
Members have been encouraged to participate in safe boating training by holding one session on our lake. Awareness of the environmental impact of motor boats has been promoted by a motor free day advertised on Pen Notes and at AGM’s every summer.
An annual regatta for canoes, row boats and sail boats is a strong tradition on our lake and it has been enhanced with a long canoe race that includes a portage.
The traditional assessment of water quality by turbidity and nutrient monitoring has been expanded to bacterial level monitoring for several years, and to benthic monitoring in the last two years. We now have enough data to assess the effectiveness of this monitoring and target the monitoring to more specific evaluation techniques sometime this Fall. We have shared thie data collected with the District of Muskoka and the provincial ministries (MNR & MOE), so that we should be able to compare the trends in our lake with that of similar lakes. This effort will need much more volunteering than currently available.
Articles on Pen Notes and a presentation at a workshop have been used to increase our members’ awareness of the risks of invasion by both water and land non-native species. Precautions to be used to manage the risk have been identified through the distribution of literature at our meetings, workshops and newsletters.
An active committee has developed signage at entry points into the lake and contacts with the agencies responsible for enforcement of safety, environmental and land use regulations. They have also responded to complaints and observations by members concerned but unsure on how to respond to abuses seen.
19. Site Specific Stewardship
The site that has absorbed most resources (volunteer time and money) has been the proposed quarry overlooking Hill’s Bay. Because of the importance of stopping this development for the quality of life on the lake, the other potential projects like the Canal and the Hidden Valley Creek restoration have been neglected. A successful conclusion of the no-quarry activities should re-energize these other site specific stewardship programs.
The no-quarry battle has brought together our lake community to an incredible extent: overflowing passionate meetings, volumes of letters, special funds raised amounting to more than ten times our annual budget. We have high expectation that all this effort will eliminate the threat of similarly located quarry once and for all times.
20. Working with Partners
We have educated our elected municipal leaders and their planning staff through boat tours of the lake, invitations to our meetings and presentations to committees. The reputation we have gained has been helpful in several cases requiring planning or enforcement decisions. We have also shared the results of our reviews of ofiicial plans and bylaws with other Lake Associations and supported them in activities where our experience could be of help (lake plan implementation, specific development comments, educational events).
Lake Plan Downloads
You can download the entire lake plan in PDF format by clicking here. [3.1 MB PDF]
The September 2005 Lake Plan Implementation update is available for dowload for here. [32 KB]
A revised rezoning application to allow a large scale rock quarry on a hillside facing Peninsula Lake--- the first officially sanctioned aggregate industry for this municipality---was presented to the Mayor and Council for the Township of Lake of Bays on December 6th, 2005. Their verdict was a clear and unanimous denial.
At the meeting in Dwight this week a broad range of concerns and objections to this proposed new quarry were expressed by Mayor Peake, Councillors, planning staff, as well as Janet Amos, environmental planner for the Peninsula Lake Association. These boil down to inevitable, serious, negative effects that would impact areas surrounding this site, most particularly Pen Lake. Summarizing, it was Council’s position that a quarry would be inappropriate for this location because it’s operations would be seen, heard and otherwise felt in ways that are inconsistent with provisions of the Official Plans for both the Township and the District of Muskoka, as well as the Provincial Policy Statement and the Pen Lake Plan.
This meeting was necessary to remedy a technical situation that emerged during the OMB (Ontario Municipal Board) hearing into the quarry issue. As previously indicated, recent changes in the Township’s Bylaws without a transitional provision nullified the legal basis for the OMB appeal that was underway until adjourned on November 3rd, 2005. This week’s decision allows this matter to resume at the OMB, but only after it is appealed by the quarry applicant.
We expect that will happen soon, and that another OMB hearing will be scheduled to begin sometime in the first half of 2006. More importantly, we also anticipate the focus will remain on the same issues previously raised at the OMB and the matter will be finally settled then.
If interested in more detail on these issues you can view Janet Amos’ letter outlining objections of the Peninsula Lake Association at the website www.penlake.ca
Minutes from this most recent Council meeting will soon be posted on the website for the Township of Lake of Bays at www.lakeofbays.on.ca/council. If you have questions in reference to the House Quarry you can contact the Planning Department at 1-877-566-0005 or 705-635-2272.
Currently we are assessing the impact of this delay on our case and its prospects. We have made good progress to this point, but obviously more will be necessary to stop this quarry. We will continue monitoring the situation, and of course, will update you whenever there are significant developments such as re-scheduling of the OMB hearing.
As always, donations to assist this important environmental cause are necessary and most welcome at anytime…this year or next! Despite the amazingly generous support from so many in our community, we still have some distance to go to meet our needs and effectively oppose this quarry. Information is available at www.penlake.ca
While we now expect a period of relative quiet from this disturbing development proposal in coming weeks, please feel free to contact us if you require any further information.
The Quarry Committee for the Peninsula Lake Association
7 December, 2005
I act as independent planning consultant to the Peninsula Lake Association. As you know, the Association is one of a number of parties to the hearing before the Ontario Municipal Board concerning the proposed zoning by-law amendment and site plan respecting the House Quarry application. The portion of the hearing relating to the zoning appeal by Mr. House was dismissed by the OMB for jurisdictional reasons relating to the Township's previous comprehensive zoning by-law, which was repealed in its entirety prior to the OMB hearing. The balance of the hearing was adjourned by the OMB to provide an opportunity for Mr. House to make an application for an amendment to the Township of Lake of Bays Comprehensive Zoning Bylaw 04-181. My understanding is that if this new application is refused by Township Council like the previous one was, it will likely be appealed by Mr. House to the OMB, where it would be consolidated with the pending site plan appeal and the two matters would proceed together upon the resumption of the OMB hearing.
On November 4, 2003 I addressed Township Council during its consideration of Mr. House's previous zoning amendment application. That application was refused by Council at that time. Since then, there has been no substantive change in the proposed application which would cause me to revise my planning opinion. In my professional planning opinion, the House Quarry application does not conform to the governing policies of the Lake of Bays Official Plan, does not represent good planning for the site and the surrounding communities, and should be refused once again.
The current zoning amendment application proposes the establishment of three zones on the subject property. These can be characterized as follows:
• A stone quarry extraction area is located at the south end of the property on a treed slope facing Peninsula Lake. This slope is clearly visible from a large portion of the lake. Likewise, the area from which was cleared on the property back in 2001-2002, as part of the quarry operations which took place prior to the Township obtaining an injunction to stop the quarrying, is also visible from the lake;
The subject property is designated Rural and is located in the vicinity of numerous established rural residences and cottages on Peninsula Lake, as well as rural residences fronting along Highway #60 adjacent to the property. Immediately to the west of the property is a 192 acre historic farm which is home to horses, cattle, sheep, hens and turkeys. There are other quarry uses in the area, none of which are of recent vintage, and none of which have any noticeable impacts on their neighbours due to their location further away from the residential area and topography. It is acknowledged by all concerned that the proposed House quarry seeks to become the first new quarry operation to be permitted by the Township in this area in many decades.
• The bulk of the property is proposed to be re-zoned from Rural to Restricted Rural, with an accessory driveway / haul route for the proposed quarry;
• Two small portions of the property are proposed to be re-zoned to Environmental Protection to recognize unevaluated wetlands; and
• The rock splitting and processing area and landscaping business fronting onto Highway #60 are proposed to be zoned for Restricted Rural (with an exemption to permit rock processing and wholesaling of rock products).
Proposed setback dimensions are not shown on the zoning by-law schedules provided by the applicant. From my knowledge of the site plan application, it would appear that the setbacks to neighbouring rural residential properties range as low as 30 metres (100 feet). Approximate distances from the rock processing area to the neighbouring residential property are in the order of 70 metres (229 feet).
As you are aware, the Provincial Aggregate Resources Act does not apply within the Township of Lake of Bays. Accordingly, controls over the establishment, use and monitoring of quarries are the responsibility of the Township, to be regulated through zoning and site plan controls as well as the Township's Pits and Quarries By-law. As part of the review process for any proposed new quarry within the Township, an assessment must be made respecting the extent to which the application conforms or does not conform to the Official Plans of the Township and of the District of Muskoka.
In my professional opinion, the House Quarry application does not conform to either Official Plan, for the reasons that follow.
District of Muskoka Official Plan
The District Official Plan contains clear policies to guide applicants and landowners to achieve compatibility between existing and new uses in the District of Muskoka. Key features of the rural and waterfront areas of the community are to be preserved.
The District Official Plan anticipates that aggregate uses may be located in the Rural area of the District, provided that they "should not conflict with the tourism base of Muskoka" (Policy E-3). Moreover, Policy E-12 states in part as follows:
“stone quarrying shall not be permitted to occur where it would require the elimination of significant landscape features. Significant landscape features include any combination of topography and vegetation, which create scenic vistas vital to the tourism industry and will be defined through local policy.”
Policy E-16 of the District Official Plan sets out the requirements for a proposed new pit or quarry operation. The matters to be considered include: the appropriateness of the location; quality and quantity of the resources; location and size of stockpiles; and impacts on surrounding land uses, especially residential. These study requirements must be met to the satisfaction of the local municipality, with input from the District. To my knowledge, the submissions by the applicant to date have failed to satisfactorily address any of these matters and, in particular, the potential impacts on surrounding land uses, especially residential.
District Official Plan Policy F4 (in particular 4c) addresses the need to preserve scenic views, and Policy 4e) specifically addresses the waterfront landscape. To date, no information has been provided by the applicant to demonstrate conformity with these specific policies.
Lake of Bays Official Plan
The Township's Official Plan contains numerous policies addressing proposed new quarry operations. For example, it stipulates that “resource industrial will only be permitted in a manner which will be environmentally sound and prevent land use conflicts” (Section F.20). The “matters to be addressed to the satisfaction of the Township” for a proposed new pit or quarry are found in Section F.28.
Section I of the Township's Official Plan expressly notes that resource related industries require a rural and remote location (Sections I.3 and I.12). In my
professional opinion, given its proximity to existing established residential and farm uses, the site of the House Quarry application can in no way be characterized as "remote".
Sections D.2, D.128 and E.24 of the Township Official Plan set out overarching responsibilities for new development to prove their compatibility with existing land uses – especially established residential uses. While recognizing the need for industrial and aggregate uses in the Township, the Official Plan stipulates that the conservation of the natural environment will take precedence over development when the two are in conflict and where mitigation measures are unable to protect environmentally sensitive or significant features and functions. Moreover, noxious uses shall not be permitted without mitigation.
In addition to compatibility issues, the Township Official Plan contains clear policy direction emphasizing the need to preserve vistas and panoramas (Section D-9). Section D-10 further states that visual, vegetative impact should be minimal and that ridgelines and skylines should be protected.
Sections E.27 and E28 of the Township Official Plan address compatibility of new uses. E.27 states that:
“new development or use of land will be compatible with:
a) the type and character of the area in which the use is being proposed, and
This policy contemplates the impact which an incompatible use can have on the ability of existing lands uses to continue to operate and to expand. This policy speaks to the concerns addressed by the Ministry of the Environment Land Use Compatibility Guidelines.
b) other legal conforming land uses in the vicinity so as to ensure protection of public investment and the continued operation and expansion of such uses, where feasible and appropriate”.
In summary, to date I have seen little from the applicant which demonstrates compliance with these and other applicable policies enshrined in the Township Official Plan.
Ministry of Environment Guidelines
The Ministry of the Environment has two guidelines that are to be used by approval authorities (such as municipalities) when considering changes in land use, and particularly when determining the compatibility between different land uses - more specifically, between industrial and sensitive land uses such as residential. They are as follows:
• D-1 Land Use Compatibility
• D-6 Compatibility between Industrial Facilities and Sensitive Land Uses
By letter dated October 9, 2003 Mr. Frank Wilson, Director, Northern Region of the Ministry of the Environment (MOE), wrote the following to members of the Peninsula Lake Association:
“Since 1996, local planning authorities, such as municipalities or planning boards, have been delegated increased decision-making authority under the Planning Act. To assist these planning authorities in exercising their new decision-making responsibilities, provincial ministries have been transferring relevant data and information for their use, including the D Series Guidelines.
With respect to your question regarding rezoning applications to permit the development of new quarry operations, the MOE Procedure D-1-2 "Land Use Compatibility: Specific Applications" recommends that for new pits and quarry operations, the influence area is to be determined by appropriate studies (e.g., noise, dust, vibration, hydrogeological) carried out in support of the land use approvals. Under Municipal Plan Review, the approval authority is responsible for requesting these studies and determining the zone of influence. In organized areas, the approval authority rests with the municipality or planning board. In unorganized areas, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing in partnership with the MOE and the Ministry of Natural Resources is the approval authority.”
Ministry of Environment Land Use Guideline D-6 advises the Township to determine the minimum separation distance and potential area of influence for a Class III industrial use (such as a quarry) in the vicinity of sensitive land uses (such as homes and farms). It establishes the following parameters:
• 300 metres minimum separation distance to avoid incompatible uses; and,
• 1,000 metres potential area of influence for any adverse effects “to be identified, mitigation proposed and an assessment made on the acceptability of the proposal” (MOE, D-6, Appendix C).
It is noteworthy that these distances apply regardless of whether it is a new sensitive land use proposed in the vicinity of an existing Class III Industrial Use such as a quarry, or whether it is a new quarry proposed in the vicinity of existing sensitive land uses. As a matter of good planning, the primary consideration should be to minimize conflicts between incompatible land uses, regardless of which is exists and which is proposed.
The Ministry of the Environment also requires that the developer enter into a binding legal agreement for any mitigation prior to the approval of the use (Ministry of the Environment Guidelines D-1-1, D-6).
I would note that Section E.38 of the Lake of Bays Official Plan specifies that a 300 metre setback from a pit or a 500 metre setback from a quarry use is required, subject to studies, when considering new sensitive land uses. If a sensitive use is proposed to be located within the stated setbacks, then an “impact assessment” should be prepared to evaluate the presence and impact of any adverse effects. It appears that the intent of this policy is to be consistent with the Ministry of the Environment D-6 Guidelines. However, because Policy E.38 applies only where new sensitive land uses are proposed near an existing quarry, and not in the opposite scenario, in my opinion the policy is in fact inconsistent with the MOE Guidelines to that extent, and the Township’s Official Plan policy should be amended accordingly as soon as possible.
Section E.32 of the Township Official Plan states that an acoustical study may be required to determine if provincial guidelines can be achieved for developments within 50 metres of a provincial highway or for stationary noise generators such as aggregate operations. The Lake of Bays Pits and Quarries By-law further states that noise “shall be controlled in accordance with applicable federal, provincial and local legislation” (Section 4.4).
The Environmental Protection Act defines "contaminant" as “any solid, liquid, gas, odour, heat, sound, vibration, radiation or combination of any of them resulting directly or indirectly from human activities that may cause an adverse effect”. The Act stipulates that “no person shall discharge into the natural environment any contaminant, and no person responsible for a source of contaminant shall permit the discharge into the natural environment of any contaminant from the source of contaminant, in an amount, concentration or level in excess of that prescribed by the regulations.”
The Ministry of the Environment Guideline entitled LU-131 Noise Assessment Criteria in Land Use Planning, which supports the D-1 Land Use Compatibility series of guidelines for planning sensitive of land uses near aggregate facilities, introduces three classes of sensitive land use. These are 1-urban, 2-mixture and 3-rural. The Ministry of the Environment Guideline entitled, NPC-205 Sound Level Limits for Stationary Sources in Class 1 & 2 Areas, NPC-232 Sound Level Limits for Stationary Sources in Class 3 Areas and NPC-233 Information to be Submitted for Approval of Stationary Source of Sound are designed for use with the Guide for Applying for Approval (Air); Noise and Vibration.
Adverse effects as defined in the Environmental Protection Act, means one or more of:
• impairment of the quality of the natural environment for any use that can be made of it;
The Environmental Protection Act states that Certificates of Approval are required for the following:
• injury or damage to property or plant and animal life;
• harm or material discomfort to any person;
• an adverse effect on the health of any person;
• impairment of the safety of any person;
• rendering any property or plant or animal life unfit for use by humans;
• loss of enjoyment of normal use of property; and,
• interference with normal conduct of business.
• Portable crusher (per O. Reg. 524/98, 13[iv]);
The Ministry of Environment Guidelines NPC-232 and NPC-205, Sound Level Limits for Stationary Sources (for both Rural and Urban areas) note that stationary sources of noise “encompass all the activities taking place within the property boundary of the facility”.
• Emissions from the extraction area (per clause 9 (1) (a) which states that without a Certificate of Approval, no person may, “construct, alter, extend or replace any plant, structure, equipment, apparatus, mechanism or thing that may discharge or from which may be discharged a contaminant into any part of the natural environment other than water”;
• Any discharge of a contaminant to the environment that might cause an adverse effect. (Sub-section 14(1) states that “despite any other provision of this Act or the regulations, no person shall discharge a contaminant or cause or permit the discharge of a contaminant into the natural environment that causes or is likely to cause an adverse effect”).
In my opinion, the “processing operations” of this quarry must include the extraction area and its related truck haul route as well as the proposed stone cutting and stockpiling activities in the proposed Rural (Ru2-Eaa zone). Any consideration of setbacks should be based on the all parts of the property used for extractive or industrial purposes and these should be in accordance with the minimum standards established by the Ministry of Environment for such purposes.
In summary, to date insufficient information has been provided by the applicant to demonstrate how the proposed quarry operation addresses any of these Ministry of Environment Guidelines.
There are significant limitations on access to the subject property as noted by the applicant's own traffic information. The Skelton Brumwell & Associates Inc. report dated April 1, 2003 (pages 12-13) noted that the access to the subject property is deficient in regards to both minimum decision sight distances at 100 km/hour and the minimum sight distance for a left or right turning vehicle at 80 km/hour on Highway #60.
The report noted that the actual minimum decision sight distance at 100 km/hour is 300 metres while the desired minimum decision sight distance at 100 km/hour is 400 metres. Thus, the available sight decision distance is “below this limit”. The report noted that the desired minimum sight distance for a left or right turning vehicle to attain operating speed before being overtaken at 80 km/hour is 270 metres. However, the available or actual minimum sight distance is “below this requirement”. Nevertheless, the report concluded that since the “turning volume is so small relative to the background volume, the entrance location and sight distances are acceptable.”
In my opinion, without the “necessary physical improvements” to the access having been completed, it cannot be assumed that there will be minimal adverse impacts to traffic flows, road safety and sight distances as a result of quarrying and related operations at this site. The impact of the quarry and its associated operations must be assessed in light of the District of Muskoka policies for entrances on Highway #60 and the Ministry of Transportation requirements. Accordingly, in my opinion, the appropriate improvements to the site access based on a detailed transportation study with measurement of the impacts of the traffic on Highway #60 from the proposed operations must be completed and evaluated prior to any consideration of a change to the land use for the subject lands.
For all of these reasons, it is my professional opinion that the proposal for the proposed House quarry zoning by-law amendment and the related site plan application continues not to represent good planning for the site and the surrounding community. The introduction of this proposed industrial land use would be incompatible with existing, established neighbouring land uses. Moreover, it has not been satisfactorily demonstrated by the applicant that the proposed quarrying, rock processing and wholesaling operations would result in minimal adverse impacts on the surrounding community.
Janet E. Amos, MCIP, RPP
Ontario Municipal Board Hearing Stalled
The Ontario Municipal Board hearing dealing with the proposed House quarry application has been adjourned temporarily. This decision was given by the Board on the fourth day of the fourteen day hearing. It is likely that the Board will schedule the completion of the hearing in spring 2006.
The legal counsel for Peninsula Lake Association raised the complex legal matter with the Board after it became apparent that the Board did not have the appropriate jurisdiction to address the applicant’s zoning bylaw amendment. The other parties agreed without argument. The zoning application was made under the old comprehensive zoning bylaw (1986). While the site plan application remains valid, that application cannot proceed without a corresponding zoning application.
After some discussion amongst the parties, it was determined that the applicant must apply for a zoning bylaw amendment pursuant to the Township’s new comprehensive zoning bylaw(2004).
If as a result of the new zoning application and a decision by Township Council this new application is appealed to the Board, that appeal would provide the Board sufficient jurisdiction to address the proposed change in land use. Then the hearing can resume. The Board’s hearing officer resolved to stay with the file if the case resume.
The parties agreed that this is an unfortunate circumstance for all since all were at the table and ready to proceed.
Janet E. Amos
Amos Environment + Planning
November 3, 2005
If you have not donated yet, please join your neighbours, family and/or friends in supporting this campaign. You will also receive a tax receipt for 2005.
It is amazing to think that over one hundred members from another lake have donated to this campaign. If you live in the Penlake watershed, this proposed quarry will overlook Penlake for generations to come and would directly affect you. You have a vested interest in helping to preserve the character of this lake, and you will directly benefit by any steps that are taken to limit or close down this proposed quarry.
Over 99 percent of the money raised is being used to hire the best experts and lawyers to ensure we achieve the best possible results at the OMB hearing. Our administrative costs are less than 1% because the fundraising campaign is organized 100% by volunteers.
More than 2,000 collective volunteer hours have been donated to this campaign. Thanks for all the hard work to the volunteers on the fundraising team which consists of : John Brenciaglia, Joe and Pat Doyle, Cathy Hurst, Tom & Jacqui Jeruzalski, Jean Fraser, Carolyn Fraser, Rudy Koehler & Catherine Moffat, Bob Moffat, Eva Marie Moffat, Dick Morse, Cathy Purvis and Len Ross. Several other individuals have also played a supportive role in working on this fundraising campaign. .
If you see them in your travels, please express your appreciation for all the VOLUNTEER work hours they have dedicated to this campaign, to protect all our collective interests.
1. The OMB currently lacks authority to deal with the existing appeal to allow a quarry on the property.
2. This lack of jurisdiction stems from a change in the Township of Lake of Bays Zoning By-Laws in the course of the appeal to the OMB by House.
3. Normally a case would go to the OMB under the same law that applied when it was heard and decided locally.
4. The By-Law in effect when Council rejected the quarry proposal no longer exists.
5. To proceed, and presuming the appellant remains determined to establish a quarry on this property. the case now must go back to local Council,
6. If an application is filed appropriately and conforms to existing laws, it would likely be scheduled for hearing and decision by the local Council.
7. If rejected again by Council, the quarry proponent would then have to appeal again to the OMB for a decision.
8. Hearings into this matter would then be rescheduled and resume at the OMB.
9. The OMB would make the final decision.
On November 3rd 2005, there was an unexpected adjournment of a scheduled three week public hearing by the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB Case #Z050019 and #M050016) into an appeal to allow establishment and on-going operation of a new rock on rural property near Pen Lake and neighbouring residences. The site (#2480 Highway 60, or
Pt. Lot 18, Con 14, Franklin) was acquired by a company (#1497039 Ontario Ltd. aka Kris House) in November 2001.
This temporary postponement resulted from a shared recognition (among all interests present) that there was no basis in law for a conclusive decision. That is, the OMB determined that it lacked jurisdiction (or authority to interpret and apply the law) in one major and crucial aspect of this case.
In simple terms, as I understand it, the appeal had two aspects: one relating to the necessary re-zoning, and a second relating to the mandatory site plan agreement. The jurisdictional issue affects only the re-zoning aspect. Briefly, to outline what apparently produced this extremely unusual situation:
On November 4th, 2003 The Township of Lake of Bays (through elected Council, supported by its planning staff recommendation, and under the authority of the Municipal Act and the Planning Act, as well as local By-Laws and Official Plans) voted unanimously to deny the applicants proposal for re-zoning of this property and its related site plan proposal (which would be the control mechanism for any quarry operation).
This was the first proposal for a new quarry within the Township of Lake of Bays under its new Official Plan and its Comprehensive Zoning By-Law (which dated from 1986, and included provisions dealing with “Pits and Quarries”). Unlike much of the province, District of Muskoka generally, and Lake of Bays Township in particular, are not governed by provisions of the Ontario Aggregate Resources Act.
At the time of this quarry decision by the Township, its Comprehensive Zoning By-Law had been under extensive draft revision and review for several years at least, but was not yet enacted. So, this proposal for re-zoning (filed in April 2003, and its subsequent rejection in November 2003) was based on the Zoning By-Laws in place since 1986.
More than a year after this quarry rejection by Council, in December of 2004 the provisions of the new Comprehensive Zoning By-Law (2004-181) were adopted by the Township, replacing the previous 1986 document. However, a number of contentious provisions in the new Zoning By-Law were immediately appealed to the OMB, and those issues were not resolved until August 2005.
I am uncertain what those provisions under appeal were, or by whom. Also, it is unclear
(to me at least) what the status of this new Zoning By-Law was during the lengthy period of this appeal process (which I understand lasted well beyond a year and a half).
During this critical period, in February 2005 (some 16 months after Council’s strong rejection) the applicant filed his appeal of the Township’s quarry decision to the OMB.
The OMB is the appropriate body (administrative tribunal with final authority for review of such matters in Ontario under the Ontario Municipal Board Act). The appeal as filed correctly cited the decision of Council and the applicable 1986 Zoning By-Law.
At that time, however, the appeal(s) relating to enactment of the new 2004 Zoning By-Law were en route to the OMB as well. These were finally decided in August 2005 (prior to the October 31st 2005 start of hearings into quarry appeal, but after the June 2005 Pre-Hearing). As a result of the August OMB hearings, all provisions of the new Zoning By-Law took effect immediately and retro-actively to December 2004. This in itself, as I understand it, is highly unusual since no phasing or transition period was provided. The result was in effect to wipe out the former 1986 Zoning By-law. In effect, this meant the quarry appeal in February 2005 (of Council’s 2003 decision) had no legal basis in regard to re-zoning, and therefore there was no jurisdictional support for the OMB hearing into this critical aspect. Imperfect as it may be, that is my understanding of the mechanism behind the situation we now find ourselves.
The result is that the whole process must begin anew. The quarry applicant is expected to prepare a completely new re-zoning application for a quarry under the terms of the new Comprehensive Zoning By-Law. Once submitted, it is expected that this will go to Council for a decision and if rejected, it is expected the quarry proponent will immediately appeal to the OMB and a hearing to determine this and the related issues will again be scheduled. Several months (at least) will likely pass before such hearings resume. Meanwhile, the OMB and the Chairperson conducting this appeal remains “seized” of the matter, and all evidence presented to date remains part of the record.
That is my understanding of the situation at the moment.