• Protecting Water and Farmland in Simcoe County

STOP Webers from building on Agricultural/Rural and Environmentally Protected Land AND PROTECT the Coldwater River!!!

In Oro-Medonte
Jan 14th, 2013
Letter from Concerned Medonte Residents January 13 2013
Dear Residents of Oro-Medonte and Simcoe County,
The owner of Webers (Fast Food Hamburgers) has purchased property in Rural Oro-Medonte at 99 Mount Saint Louis Road East.  We feel that it is important for you to be aware of the progress regarding the application submitted by the owner of Webers to the Township proposing amendments to the Official Plan and Zoning By-law for the property.  The property is currently Agricultural/Rural and Environmentally Protected land and the application has requested for it to be converted to commercial land for the development of a Webers Fast Food Hamburger Restaurant.
A public meeting was held last February 2012 where not one member of a large public turnout spoke in favour of this development and nearly 600 petitions were signed in just one week in order to meet the Township’s public input deadline. 
Now, nearly one year later, the Township of Oro-Medonte has not made a decision regarding this matter and the applicant (owner of Webers) has taken the matter to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB). The OMB hearing date is Wednesday February 13, 2013 at 10:00am at the Township of Oro-Medonte Administrative Building, 148 Line 7 South, Oro.  We hope you can attend, since a large public presence will be our last opportunity to demonstrate our opposition to this development in our community.
Take a drive along Mount Saint Louis Road and see for yourself how rural and country-like the setting is.  The property itself boasts a beautiful pond, fields, forests, wildlife, the Coldwater River and beautiful views of the Medonte hills and Mount St. Louis Ski hill.
As you may recall, there are many reasons why residents are greatly concerned and opposed to this application including:
1.  To save and preserve Agricultural and Environmental Protection (EP) land (the Official Plan does not permit this land to be used for commercial use).
2.  It is intended that commercial developments, such as this, develop in pre-existing commercially zoned areas within the Township (a fast food burger restaurant does not fit the rural character of this area of the Township).
3.  The applicant who wishes to re-designate and change the zoning of the land (and/or his contractor) has, in our opinion, demonstrated a pattern of disregard for the environment, due process, and provincial laws by completing site alterations (cutting trees, burning, destruction and penetration to EP lands including pond shoreline with an excavator, removal of MTO fence along Hwy 400 which is intended to discourage wildlife from running onto the highway) prior to approval. This behaviour indicates a pattern that would lead any reasonable, cautious and prudent person to believe that further disregard for the environment including wildlife that frequent the property’s fields, wetlands, and forests as well as the safety of passing motorists, and disrespect for the community and the law will likely continue in our opinion.
4.  To protect the viability of the pristine Coldwater River, which supports a variety of coldwater, sensitive fish populations including Brown Trout, Brook Trout, Rainbow Trout, Chinook Salmon, Largemouth Bass and White Sucker as well as the significant habitat of wildlife, potential Species at Risk, fish and fish habitat (as development will bring storm water runoff, trampling of EP lands by pedestrians and pets, significant sewage volume, etc.).
5.  To prevent loss of natural features (wildlife habitat, native plants, animals, birds, aquatic species and natural beauty in a country setting) from being placed under buildings, railway dining cars, parking lots, waste/recycling disposal bins, septic system, and the possibility of asphalt.
6.  To prevent substantial increase in traffic volume at the Hwy 400/Mt St Louis Rd interchange, placing the safety of motorists, cyclists, joggers, children and the community in danger (sight lines and size of this section of road are inadequate).  Furthermore, to maintain accessibility and safety of visitors to Mount St. Louis Moonstone ski hill.
7.  To prevent noise, air, light, and land pollution (litter) in a beautiful country setting.
8.  To prevent water pollution in the Coldwater River and to coldwater tributaries and pond located on the property.
9.  There are numerous deficiencies (outstanding issues) with the Environmental Impact Statement (further studies need to be conducted to assess negative impacts on threatened species that have been identified on the property).
10.  The lives of many will be negatively impacted all for the profit of one sole developer who doesn’t even reside in the community.
Letter to Council, February 2012 
Included below is the letter submitted to the Township of Oro-Medonte by the Concerned Medonte Residents Group, February 29, 2012    
To Oro-Medonte Council:  
Re: Proposed amendment to Official Plan and Zoning By-law for 99 Mount Saint Louis Road East for the commercial development of a Webers Fast Food Hamburger Restaurant.
Dear Council,
At the public meeting on Wednesday February 22, 2012, not one member of the public spoke in favour of this development.  Prior to the meeting, concerned resident, April King (who grew up in the Coldwater area), handed out 200 public notices to make residents aware of this proposal.  She also spoke to many people in doing so, none of whom agreed with this development.  April also works within the community and she comes in contact with a variety of demographics, specifically 12-18 year olds (our next generation) who are also very opposed to this development. 
In the summer of 2011, trees were cut and burned and an excavator was working in the environmentally protected area along pond banks and creek bed.  As a result, the Coldwater River was laden with silt and sediment for over 48 hours afterwards (we have photographic evidence of this).  Unfortunately, no one knows what damage has already been done to the habitat of aquatic species in the Coldwater River and potential Species At Risk that reside on this property. These site alterations, prior to approval, go against the Official Plan and Zoning By-law constitutions and are a breach of the Planning Act.  
The Township of Oro-Medonte’s 2011-2014 Strategic Plan identifies Strategic Goals for the future including:
-Quality of Life:  To contribute to an enriched quality of life for residents by maintaining Oro-Medonte’s natural beauty and country-like character…
“Planning strategically ensures that together we will be able to maintain the things that we collectively value as being important for enriching the quality of life by responding to the challenges of the present in a manner that best positions the Township for the future.” Mayor Harry Hughes
-Safe & Healthy Community:  To ensure that Oro-Medonte policies and programs promote a safe and secure environment…
“This Strategic Goal is all about prevention and protection; prevention of accidents to employees and residents of Oro-Medonte and protection of the environment.“ Mel Coutanche, Ward 1 Councillor.
-Sustainability:  To build an increasingly sustainable community with regard for and sensitivity to the needs of future generations. 
Update land use planning to protect the Township’s natural assets. 
Work with local conservation authorities and associations to protect wetlands, watersheds and the local ecology…
“Protecting Oro-Medonte’s natural beauty will help us provide a bright future for future generations to come“ Marty Lancaster, Ward 3 Councillor  
The MPP for Simcoe North, the Hon. Mr. Garfield Dunlop, recently wrote an article for a local publication, the ‘Coldwater Current’ Local News and Events, February 2012 expressing his belief that:
“It is imperative for Simcoe County and the entire province that Ontario takes a leadership role in protecting our biodiversity.”
In a special report released recently, Biodiversity: A Nation’s Commitment, an Obligation for Ontario:  The Environmental Commissioner of Ontario, Gord Miller said the Government of Ontario must commit to its responsibilities in the 2011 Biodiversity Strategy to stem the continuing decline in Ontario’s species and natural spaces.
My riding of Simcoe North is a perfect example of where such protective measures are needed.  We live in an area where reforestation and protection of wetlands and species at risk are vital to good health, growth and sustainable future…
… The lifestyle we enjoy in Simcoe County and in Ontario, our health, the health of our communities and our economy depends on a healthy biodiversity.”
 We cannot find any evidence in the planning justification report, Growth Plan or Township Policy to support this development.  There are appropriately zoned areas to host this type of commercial development elsewhere.  We, the public, are holding the Township of Oro-Medonte accountable to their legislation, goals for the community, and support for their community so that the quality of life for many is not jeopardized for the sole benefit of one person’s private business venture.  It is our hope that the Council of Oro-Medonte recognizes that this is the wrong parcel of land for such a development, and makes the progressive, responsible and ethical decision to decline the proposed amendment for this property.
Concerned Medonte Residents Group (23 signatures)
IF YOU AGREE, WE HOPE TO SEE YOU ON FEBRUARY 13th at 10:00am at the Township of Oro-Medonte, 148 Line 7 South, Oro.  A high turnout of those opposed would clearly demonstrate the significant level of grassroots opposition to this proposal.  
Thank you for your support,
Concerned Medonte Residents

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