• Protecting Water and Farmland in Simcoe County

Burl’s Creek not named in county’s charges over woodland destruction

In Agencies
Jan 22nd, 2016
Burl's Creek

Alarm raised over potential for loophole

By Andrew Philips Orillia Packer & Times

An Oro-Medonte Township man worries the name listed on a county bylaw charge against the parent company of Burl’s Creek could lead to trouble down the road.

Paul Sanderson said the Simcoe County document that outlines the charges under the county’s forestry conservation bylaw refers to Contrans Group Inc. as the parent company of Burl’s Creek. The problem, according to Sanderson, is that particular named company no longer exists.

“People are always looking for loopholes,” Sanderson said. “How can you lay charges against a corporation that doesn’t exist?”

According to Sanderson, Contrans Inc. was a publicly traded company listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) with the controlling shareholder being Stan Dunford, who owns Burl’s Creek and is a majority shareholder of Republic Live.

But, Sanderson said, in 2014, TransForce Inc. (also a TSX-listed company) acquired Contrans and all shares were tendered in January 2015, when the deal closed.

“At that time, Contrans was delisted from the TSX and ceased to be a corporate entity,” Sanderson said. “Although Contrans liveried equipment is still on the road, Contrans is now a wholly owned subsidiary of TransForce.

“Even though the Contrans brand still exists (owned by TransForce), the Contrans company does not.”

Sanderson, who has forwarded his concerns to county officials, said the name used could cause confusion in the future by allowing a lawyer to have the case dismissed on a technicality.

Debbie Korolnek, the county’s general manager of engineering, planning and environment, said staff have received Sanderson’s note and have followed up with him directly.

“Staff have cross-referenced the report and believe its contents/findings to be accurate,” she said in an email.

According to the county report, bylaw staff became aware of “potential impacts occurring to woodlands” on the newly expanded Burl’s Creek Event Grounds in November 2014.

“Despite efforts to work with company representatives to establish reasonable boundaries in the absence of approved site plans, a stop-work order was issued Jan. 14, 2015, due to apparent destruction of woodlands,” the report states.

A meeting between county, township and Burl’s Creek representatives soon followed with certain conditions surrounding the subject land being established, including agreement no further impact to any identified woodland would occur prior to the necessary approvals. Those conditions were met and the stop-work order was lifted the following month.

But last month, county bylaw staff returned to the site after receiving a complaint about potential tree clearing and “confirmed that a new access road had been constructed through a woodland, which was not exempted under the bylaw nor in accordance with a valid permit.”

The report states the roadway is roughly 175 metres long and 10 metres wide. As well, county staff notified the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry due to the “potential impacts to endangered species.”

Besides Contrans Group Inc., 2437339 Ontario Inc. (landowner), TBG Environmental Inc. (contracted landscaping company), Ryan Howes (Burl’s Creek Event Grounds, vice-president of venue operations and business development) and TBG site manager Ed Dabrowa are charged under Section 3.1 of the Forest Conservation Bylaw.

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