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Thursday, May 25, 2006

Long weekend proves to be deadly on Lake Simcoe

Long weekend proves to be deadly

Six people are dead and another is presumed dead after a series of accidents on the water over the long weekend.

The bodies of three Richmond Hill men have been pulled from Rice Lake.

The three men were not wearing life jackets when they went out with four others on a fishing trip on Sunday.

In another incident, a 27-year-old swimmer drowned late Sunday afternoon in Lake Simcoe.

The body of a 79-year-old man was found Friday after he went fishing alone on a lake near Sault Ste Marie.

A man has also drowned after his canoe flipped over on Wolf Lake northeast of Madoc. He also wasn't wearing a life jacket.

It was also a deadly weekend on the roads.

Two people were killed in a motorcycle crash around 5 p.m. yesterday at Burnhamthorpe and Hurontario.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Lefroy residents turn up the heat at public meeting

Lefroy residents turn up the heat at public meeting

In a heated public meeting Wednesday night, representatives from LSAMI (Lefroy Settlement Area Management Inc) and LBEMI (Lefroy Belle Ewart Management Inc) stated their intentions for the Lefroy area to 180 residents at the Lefroy Arena.

About 20 residents took to the microphone, most stating they like Lefroy the way it was, after the two sides made their case.

The evening began with Paul Lowes, of Sorenson Gravely Lowes Planning Associates, giving those in attendance an overview of the Lefroy Secondary Plan. Upon reviewing the course of events leading up to the public meeting, including the designation of the Lefroy Settlement Area (LSA) in 1993 in the Official Plan (OP), the Secondary Plan submissions by LBEMI in October 2004 and LSAMI's application in February 2005, Lowes stated both have submitted their plans to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB).

"We have to determine what has to be protected and where development should occur," he said.

Lowes stated some issues to be considered are neighbourhood connectivity, size and location of parks, viability of commercial designation, community services, transportation studies, servicing issues, and hydro geological analysis.

Representing LSAMI, Marvin Geist stated LSAMI owned approximately 92% of vacant developable lands within the approved settlement

area of Lefroy. The LSAMI area includes lands between the 5th Line and halfway between the 4th and the 3rd between the 20th Sideroad to the lands east of Ferrier Avenue.

"The decision for development and growth has already been made for this area and approved by the Province, the County, and the Town of Innisfil," said Geist.

Citing Section 5.14 of land use policies of the OP, Geist said the plan anticipates an increase of approximately

5,945 people within the boundaries of the LSA and his plan reflects that.

In regards to the Carson Drain, Geist said the LSAMI group would not be increasing the risk for flooding, but decreasing the risk at no cost to people downstream.

"We are improving a situation that has an existing problem," said Geist. He stated storm water management facilities proposed through oversized ponds are being developed for storm water quality and quantity purposes, with phosphorus water recharge, offering residents a greater level of protection.

Geist said the LSAMI plan would bring water infrastructure to the community, protect the area from potential floods, create employment opportunities with a rejuvenated main street, provide open space and recreational trails, and a GO station. He also stated his plan conforms with the Provincial Policy Statement, Places to Grow Act, IGAP,

County of Simcoe OP, and the Town of Innisfil's OP. Urban Designer for LSAMI, Silvano Tardella of Nak Design Group said he see's Killarney Beach Road at a vibrant Main Street. "With benches and decorative lighting, we will make it a vibrant area of the community." Tardella also stated there should be two gateways anchoring Killarney Beach Road; one to the West, welcoming people to the area, and a more historical type gateway to the east. "We believe we can build upon what you have to make a village."

Representing LBEMI, Don Given said there has to be a bigger vision for what's going to happen to Lefroy. The LBEMI plan would see a population of 20,000 - 25,000. "Our concern is how the whole community will grow," he said. "We have to have an understanding of how big this community is going to be."

Referring to the themes stated during to the Public Visioning Workshops, Given outlined how the LBEMI plan coincides with those themes. He said there would be controlled development along the waterfront, maintained and improved water quality, community character and diversity, transit access and quality accommodations. The plan anticipates three new elementary and one new high school.

"We have seven parks planned and anticipate a fire hall would be needed on the west side of the 20th," Given said. He added a community

centre would be needed and a mixed use village centre as well. "We think this community has never had a downtown. We want to do it with high quality urban design."

The LBEMI plan would include a water tower on the west side of the 20th, a by pass of the 6th Line and a 'grand GO Station'. The plan includes 2500 jobs on the east side of the 20th, a health centre, retail opportunities, offices, and tourism and recreation jobs. Given said fifty per cent of the homes built in the LBEMI plan would be fifty foot lots. The medium density housing would be focused in the core of the community.

After the presentations were made, almost twenty residents took their turn at the microphone, most not happy with what they had heard.

John Pugsley of VOCALS (Voices of Concern About Lake Simcoe) stated his group opposed any development that would affect the Lake. "Building thousands of homes is not Smart Planning," he said. "We are demanding a made in Innisfil plan, not a design in Toronto plan."

Geist replied by stating there is protected green space in the LSAMI plan. "The ambition you want for this community is based on the LSAMI plan."

Given said from day one, the LBEMI plan was to put their environmental needs first.

Resident George Munchaw, also of VOCALS, stated Innisfil's environmental land marks would suffer.

"Safe clean drinking water should be on the top of our agenda," he said. "The Town should direct development away from the Lake Simcoe area and direct services to the 400 area. The Town should build outward from Innisfil Beach Road."

Teresa Moniger stated no one had addressed the major past times of those in the Lefroy area; ATV's and snow mobiles.

Given said the types of trails in the LBEMI plan were for pedestrians to walk, cycle, cross country ski and hike. Geist said LSAMI is in discussions with Parks and Rec regarding ATV's.

A resident who moved from Toronto to Lefroy stated the residents should respect the fact that people they don't know are making an investment in their community. "In the end, you have to remember it's their property, not ours," he said.

Resident Jim Roberts told Geist and Given they are planning for too many people too fast.

"We don't need the type of development you guys are talking about right now," he said. "A lot of people coming here are going to be nomads...stay here for a bit and leave. That's not community. You're going to build houses, not a community. You are going to build Town we're not going to want to live in."

The LBEMI Open House will be at the Churchill Community Centre on Tuesday, May 30 from 4:00 - 9:00 p.m. The LSAMI OMB pre-hearing is schedule for July 5th - 7th at the Holiday Inn in Barrie.

Friday, May 12, 2006

`Orderly' growth sought for Simcoe watershed

`Orderly' growth sought for Simcoe watershed

Land-hungry developers looking at Simcoe County with a covetous eye must be held at bay — at least for now, Natural Resources Minister David Ramsay says.

Ramsay said yesterday the province is prepared to do what it takes to stop "hodgepodge" development, especially if it threatens the health of Lake Simcoe, a popular vacation area for tens of thousands of people.

"Simcoe County, obviously, is an area where there is a lot of growth potential and there has been some concern about that and we want to work with the county to see what can be sustainably developed," Ramsay said after making a funding announcement yesterday in King Township.

"We want to have proper growth here ... we have to do this in an orderly way.We don't want this sort of hodgepodge development anymore," he said.

Ramsay announced his ministry was extending an additional $150,000 in annual funding to the Ontario Land Trust Assistance Program, which gives grants to Ontario land trusts for costs associated with securing donations or purchases of ecologically lands and conservation easements. The minister said one of his major concerns is that runaway development doesn't further damage Lake Simcoe, which is already under stress from development. The province's greenbelt legislation, which put a halt to development in a large ring around Toronto, has driven developers farther afield. Currently, provincial and municipal officials are participating in an Intergovernmental Action Plan (IGAP) to look at all aspects of development, particularly how they affect the lake and the Nottawasaga River.

Sunday, May 07, 2006



Georgina council last week approved an "historic" waterfront development in Keswick.
The $70-million Crate's Landing project at the mouth of the Maskinonge River in Keswick won unanimous support from council members after Monday night's final public meeting in front of a packed council chamber.

"This project will be a diamond in the heart of Keswick," Councillor Ross Jamieson said, adding there will be a huge boost to the local economy and praising the developer for involving members of the public in every step of the process.

"It's an historic moment for the Town of Georgina," Mayor Rob Grossi said.

"While there may be some construction impacts, we'll do everything in our power to mitigate them."

Deputy-mayor Danny Wheeler said Crate's Landing has led the way with their project plans.

"They have shown people how developments can be done properly," he said, "I'm thrilled to see this."

If all goes according to plan, construction on the foundations will begin in late summer with completion in about two years, developer Brookfield Millhouse partner John Blackburn said after the meeting. He said he expects the development will be attractive to affluent Baby Boomers looking for lakeside lifestyle as well as moneyed tourists.

The project, with its all-suites hotel and convention centre component, is crucial to attracting more visitors to Georgina, Briars Resort vice president of sales and marketing Hugh Sibbald after the meeting. "I think this is great. For Georgina to become a destination of any sort, we need rooms. It's quite exciting to see Crate's Landing opening up," he said. The prestige Briars has 91 rooms, but that isn't enough to satisfy the growing need to handle potential convention goers and tourists who stay overnight and longer, creating economic spinoff for such businesses as restaurants, he said.

A minor stumbling block could be the region's recent policy requiring water and sewer allocation be set aside for new hotels. With the allocation used up in Keswick until the expansion of the sewage treatment plant in two years, the hotel lacks the 220-person allocation it needs.

While the town could draw that from the industrial supply available, planning director Harold Lenters cautioned that it may be needed for the future Keswick business park. Mayor Rob Grossi said he and Deputy-Mayor Danny Wheeler will lobby their regional collegues to exempt the Crate's Landing hotel from the new requirement. "We've got two votes already," Mr. Grossi said. "We just need nine more." But without regional approval, it is likely council will shift allocation to the hotel, Mr. Wheeler said.

The project manager is Evanco Corp., which is also handling Muskoka Wharf, a larger, but similar development in Gravenhurst. The hotel planned for that development is a Marriott.

In addition to the hotel, Crate's Landing will include a convention centre, upscale retail shops, restaurants, professional offices, a public boardwalk over a protected wetland, townhouses and condominium apartments. Adult lifestyle condos are planned for the second phase and are not included in the $70 million price tag for the first phase.

An even larger proposal called Crate's Harbour will be constructed directly across the river and will come before council in the near future.

Mr. Blackburn said talks are on-going with an undisclosed major luxury hotel chain for Crate's Landing.

Crate's Landing drew praise for its "green" approach that will see a large portion of the property set aside as protected wetland. Mr. Blackburn said an advisory committee of interested residents will be set up and that Paul Harpley, president of the Lake Simcoe Naturalists has agreed to take part. Among the plans for the natural area, is for a public boardwalk with educational displays along it, outlining the flora and fauna the wetland contains.

The Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority as set a number of strict guidelines the developer must follow to ensure the neighbouring environment is protected, town planner Karyn Stone told council.

The use of pesticides and fertilizers will also be banned at Crate's Landing, the audience was told. Annabel Slaight, who spearheaded the Wave program promoting natural alternatives to fertilizers, said she was very happy with that decision and hopes other developers will follow the lead taken by Brookfield Millhouse.

Neighbouring residents expressed some concern over potential noise and vibration from possible pile-driving during construction. Bob Pollock asked that hours of pile-driving be restricted to certain hours of the day. He also asked that construction traffic be routed away from homes. Cameron Crescent will be dead-ended with a cul-de-sac to prevent through traffic.

Jim Hougham said he wanted assurance that the project will go ahead with its promised upscale Cape Cod type architecture and not scale back. Brookfield Millhouse partner Chris Mullin said the success of the project rested on that design and the numerous potential buyers who have already paid a deposit for a residence or business in the development, will insist on that.

Future lakeshore plans could incorporate the derelict federal wharf just north of the project, Mr. Grossi said, adding the town has been in talks with the government about the future of that wharf.

Looking on with approval in the audience was Crate Marine patriarch Lloyd Crate, whose family founded and grew the marina into one of Canada's largest before embarking on this newest venture that will become the most ambitious in Georgina's history.