Loophole that would destroy wetland awaits legal opinion
from Jack Gibbons North Gwillimbury Forest Alliance October 28 2010
First the good news: At the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority’s (LSRCA) October 25th board meeting, Councillor Phil Craig of the Town of Georgina announced that he supports our request for the elimination of the Maple Lake Estates (MLE) Loophole.
The MLE Loophole would appear to give Metrus Developments automatic approval for a 500 acre, 1000+ home development that would destroy a provincially significant wetland in the North Gwillimbury Forest.
According to an LSRCA staff report, none of the LSRCA’s five neighbouring Conservation Authorities permit large-scale developments that would destroy a provincially significant wetland.
Now the bad news: Mayor Geoffrey Dawe of Aurora moved a motion to defer making a decision on the Maple Lake Estates Loophole until after the LSRCA receives a legal opinion from its lawyer. Mayor Dawe’s motion was approved. As a result, the MLE Loophole will remain in place until at least the next LSRCA board meeting (November 22nd).
Mike Walters of the LSRCA made a PowerPoint presentation about Metrus Developments’ proposal to surrender its Maple Lake Estates development approvals in return for permission to build a subdivision outside of the North Gwillimbury Forest (NGF) on the south-side of Deer Park Road, west of Woodbine Avenue in the Town of Georgina.
The North Gwillimbury Forest Alliance strongly supports a Maple Lakes Estates development approvals swap agreement that is in the public interest. In particular, we believe that two key conditions must be met:
First, the agreement must ensure that all of the NGF lands that are owned by Metrus will be preserved in their natural state – forever. And there are three such properties:
the Maple Lake Estates property;
the Maple Lake Estates 2 property (most of this section of the NGF is also a provincially significant wetland);
the Stag Hollow property ( this property contains a magnificent old growth forest).
To ensure that these forests are kept in their natural state forever, their ownership must be transferred to the LSRCA or an appropriate land trust.
Secondly, there must be full community input with respect to the location and design of Metrus’ proposed new residential development. Community input is necessary to ensure that we create a high-quality new community, in an appropriate location.
While we hope that it will be possible to negotiate a development approvals swap agreement with Metrus that is in the public interest, there is no guarantee that the negotiations will be successful. And if no deal is reached, Metrus must not be allowed to proceed with a 1,000 unit subdivision which will destroy a provincially significant wetland. Therefore it is essential that the LSRCA eliminate its MLE Loophole at its November 22nd board meeting.