Lame Duck LSRCA Approves Big Bay Point 30-Acre Hole in Shoreline without Public Involvement
Newly Appointed Directors Asked to Re-Examine Decision
News release from Environmental Defence December 22 2010
TORONTO, ON – By an 11-2 margin, the outgoing directors of the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority (LSRCA) voted to approve Geranium Corporation’s massive 30-acre excavation of the Lake Simcoe shoreline without public notice or involvement. Excavation is needed to allow for the 1,000 slip mega-marina proposed for Big Bay Point in Innisfil, Ontario.
The agenda for Friday’s meeting and vote listed the excavation item as an “information update,” with no mention of a vote. The new, recently elected directors of the LSRCA do not meet for the first time until January, 2011.
“Approving this environmental travesty without notice to the public, debate or even allowing current elected officials to weigh-in is preposterous,” said Dr. Rick Smith, executive director of Environmental Defence.
“The agenda for the December 17 meeting stated, that ‘staff report 68-10-BOD regarding the Big Bay Point resort development be received for information.’ There was no indication of a vote,” Smith added. “The repeated attempts to shut the public out of the debate need to be addressed immediately.”
The proposed 30-acre marina excavation requires an area that would cover all of Toronto’s Financial District, from King Street to Queen Street, from Yonge Street to University Avenue.
“I had a suspicion the outgoing LSRCA board members would try to sneak through this highly controversial decision before the new, greener LSRCA board was ushered in,” said Don Avery, past president of the Innisfil District Association, and a victim of one of Geranium’s Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPP) legal actions.
“I thought the McGuinty government and the Environmental Bill of Rights guaranteed defenders of the lake a say in important environmental matters,” Avery added.
The LSRCA decision comes just after Campaign Lake Simcoe exposed the proposed sale by the Government of Ontario of two public beaches to the Geranium Corporation to allow for a massive marina channel opening, harbour and seawall. Two new massive boulder breakwaters and channel dredging are proposed, contrary to the Lake Simcoe Protection Act.
“By approving this massive alteration of the Lake Simcoe shoreline without any notification, the LSRCA has lost whatever credibility it had with the public. It is astonishing that both the staff and board continue to support this development and shut out the public, when they are a public agency, whose mission is: ‘to provide leadership in the restoration and protection of the environmental health and quality of Lake Simcoe and its watershed.’ This is no way to work together to save Lake Simcoe,” said Claire Malcolmson, President of the Rescue Lake Simcoe Coalition.
Residents have complained for years about a double-standard in enforcement and compliance around the lake, with homeowners being prosecuted and warned for doing things as simple as pushing winter up-rush rocks back into the lake, or moving a dock a few inches.
“I defended a Lake Simcoe shoreline property owner against the Conservation Authority for moving a few rocks in front of his dock,” said David Donnelly, legal counsel to Environmental Defence.
“After years of strange behaviour at the LSRCA, moving forward with a destructive vote without including the public is the straw that broke the camel’s back. It is the responsibility of the new board to re-examine this decision when they take control in January. The public must be heard,” Donnelly added.