Lake Waseosa Ratepayers’ Association
c/o 21 Cottage Lane, RR#3
August 8, 2018
This proposal creates 3 new lots immediately with the unexpressed but obvious opportunity to create a 4th new lot in the future, on a lake where the carrying capacity has been exceeded and where the applicable Lake Plan stipulates that the future of development is to be redevelopment of existing lots, not new lot creation.
Back in 2001, the LWRA and other Lake Associations in Huntsville were approached by the Town and asked to prepare a Lake Plan. We were tasked, in the Huntsville Official Plan, to determine the limits to and nature of future development in this area.
The District of Muskoka Official Plan supports policies to ensure the carrying capacity is not significantly affected and development proceeds in a socially sound manner. The Huntsville Official Plan recognizes that factors other than water quality present limits to the desirable amount of development on a particular lake, directing Lake Associations to address these matters on an individual lake basis.
With these Official Plan policies in mind, we examined the recreational carrying capacity of the lake, the potential for environmental damage and both the existing and future character of the lake. The LWRA commissioned a study of the Recreational Carrying Capacity of the lake utilizing two complimentary models. The first is the Ontario Ministry of the Environment “Lake Alert System”, which sets limits based on the available surface area of the lake in relation to the amount of development. Under the Lake Alert System, 4 hectares per dwelling are required on a small lake. The study revealed that the total surface area of Jessop is only 1.15 ha/property. That means the number of existing lots are already almost four times the recommended amount for a small lake.
The District of Muskoka OP also makes reference to boating density in determining the recreational carrying capacity of a waterway. Accordingly, the LWRA commissioned a Boat Density Study. This model revealed that Jessop Lake was very nearly at capacity, and in fact could only accommodate one more boat. Since that time, new construction has increased the number of residences by 6%, so that today the boat density exceeds the available lake surface.
As a result, the Lake Plan determined that no new lot creation should be permitted on Jessop and that future development should be in the form of maturation and re-development of existing lots. The Lake Plan contains a specific policy preventing new lot creation and this subdivision proposal is not compatible with the intent and policies set forth in the Lake Plan.
We have had considerable correspondence with the Planning Department since we were notified about this proposal. Recently, the Director of Planning, Chris Marshall, wrote “that plan has not been incorporated into the Official Plan and has not had the opportunity for public and agency review”. Let’s examine that assertion:
The Lake Plan process started in 2002 and several drafts were prepared and presented to area landowners for comment before it was published in 2006. The process was repeated in 2011 to coincide with the scheduled Official Plan review. Note that I said “area landowners” not “members of the Association”. We recognize that while we represent over half the waterfront, not all landowners are members but all landowners are potentially affected. The final draft was adopted at a public meeting open to all. The text was posted on our website, hard copies were made available in advance on request, and for several hours in advance of the meeting at the venue. We advertised it in the Forester, we sent out e-mails to everyone on our list, we posted it on our roadside community bulletin boards and we even hand-delivered flyers to every single household on the lakes. A reporter from the Forester attended the meeting and witnessed the process. The plan was adopted with unanimous consent. How can anyone claim there was no opportunity for public review?
As for the opportunity for agency review, the Planning Department has had a copy of the original since 2006 and the revised version since November of 2011. We were told the Official Plan review was being delayed until 2012 and it would be incorporated then. It’s 2013 and we are still waiting. We don’t understand the delay, but it certainly was not from lack of opportunity.
Nonetheless, it is not necessarily a requirement that the provisions of the Lake Plan be explicitly expressed in the Official Plan. The Official Plan adopts the Lake Plan by reference in section 8.13.7 “Those provisions of the lake plan that are related to municipal planning policy and that may vary from the general provisions of the Huntsville Official Plan are carried forward as specific policies applicable to the Lake”.
The planning process in Ontario has an hierarchy, starting with the Province. The District of Muskoka cannot countermand the Province and the Town cannot contradict the District and of course the Lake Plan contradict the Town’s Official Plan. If the Lake Plan contained provisions contrary to the Official Plan, then those provisions would be invalid or the Official Plan would have to be amended to allow those provisions.
In this case, the policy of the Lake Plan does not contradict the Official Plan, it merely provides direction in land use policy. There is no automatic right to alter the zoning or subdivide a property. The zoning of this property does not allow subdivision, that’s why the owner is applying for an ammendment. There is no conflict with the Town’s Official Plan to deny the zoning amendment or withhold the consent.
Therefore, since the Lake Plan is adopted by reference, and since this application is contrary to the policy set forth in the Lake Plan, this application is contrary to the intent of the Official Plan. As the Town is under no obligation to permit this subdivision, you are free to deny it.
The LWRA Lake Plan is one of the most democratically derived documents since the signing of the Magna Carta. The turnout here today gives this committee the mandate to uphold the covenant agreed to by all interested parties – including the applicant. We call upon you to respect and protect the mutual interest of the residents.
The LWRA requests a written or electronic copy of all decisions in this matter.
Dwayne Verhey, Secretary
Lake Waseosa Ratepayers’ Association
C/o 21 Cottage Lane, RR#3
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