EDITOR’S NOTE: A reader sends a copy of this letter that has been sent to the White Lake Preservation Project and to the cottagers’ association.
Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) Hearing re: White Lake Campground February 12th to 23rd
Municipal Building Council Chambers Mississippi Mills Town Hall 3131 Old Perth Rd., Almonte
Consult OMB website schedule for meeting times
If you ever thought that February is the low point of winter activity for all of us on White Lake, THE NEXT FEW WEEKS WILL BE THE EXCEPTION.
Starting February 12th and running for 2 weeks, the OMB hearing challenging Mississippi Mill’s decision to grant the White Lake Campground significant variances from their building Bylaws will be heard.
In spite of written submissions and a town hall meeting April 5th 2016 where over 90 lake residents expressed grave reservations about the significant trailer park expansion, and the ensuing environmental impact, the Municipality granted the owner basically the concessions he asked for.
White Lake is a shallow lake with a very low turnover rate. It has close to 600 shoreline lots, and 7 trailer parks with over 900 sites. Our belief is that the lake is at capacity (confirmed by 3 years of algae blooms, one highly toxic, and lake capacity calculations).
The huge explosion of the zebra mussel population has greatly altered the ecology of the lake especially in shallow areas. It is important that any new development not put additional stress on this system. The approach to development needs to adhere much closer to what is already found in the Provincial Policy Statement and to Official Plans and By-laws.
The Municipality’s decision would allow possibly 150 park model trailers on a small piece of land situated on a particularly sensitive body of water (Provincially Significant Wetland). It is our contention that these trailers could function as cottages or 3-season homes and the Municipality should have taken into account the intensity of use and required the minimal setback of 30 m from the lake, and the 15m “ribbon of life”, and specified an upper limit on the number of sites. (Mississippi Mills Official Plan and Lanark County Sustainable Communities Official Plan).
Much of the detail about what sewage plant and what water source is proposed are left to the site plan control. Site plan control is not open to public scrutiny or comment. We feel that the Municipality should have had more specific detail before granting an approval that strays significantly from their Bylaws.
Municipalities do not have the funds, manpower, or expertise to monitor complex projects. The authors of the Environmental Impact Assessment suggested a variety of conditions which would be necessary to avoid damage to the environment, some of which would be almost impossible to implement and certainly to monitor.
The proposed docking for up to 150 boats would either occupy a large portion of the shoreline or extend significantly into the Canal. The developer’s plan would increase boating activity in the already busy canal and have a major impact on the wetland.
Decisions rendered at this hearing will have implications with respect to how future development on the lake is managed by other councils. We hope that our environmental concerns are taken seriously.
An OMB hearing is the final opportunity to place planning and environmental issues before an adjudicator who will rule on positions important to future development on our lake. We hope that you will try to take in some of the discussion