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Thursday, February 22, 2007

County votes on Big Bay Point development today

County votes on Big Bay Point development today

Simcoe County council will be holding a special meeting this afternoon at 1 p.m. (Wednesday) which will see a vote on a scaled down Big Bay Point development proposal.

Simcoe County's Corporate Services Committee gave its provisional approval to the new proposal last Wednesday.

The new proposal which was developed over the past few months between Simcoe County, the Town of Innisfil and Kimvar Enterprises/ Geranium Corporation will see considerably less development than was originally presented by Geranium in 2002.

The 235 hectare property which is situated west of Lake Simcoe between Big Bay Point Road and 13th concession of Innisfil will see a maximum of 1,600 residential units and 700 hotel units. 4,200 units were originally proposed for the area.

Residential development will be concentrated in the eastern section of the property with a golf course and a fire station placed in the west end.

"At the beginning, neighbours had a lot of concern with development in the western area," said Corporate Services committee chair Doug Little.

He said that the dedication of 87 hectares of land to Open Space Conservation in the middle of the property should also lessen concerns

of neighbouring property owners and the placement of only one new road linking Big Bay Point Road to the 13th line was decided to meet concerns about additional traffic in the area.

Also included in the proposal will be 1,000 boat slips at the marina, a 5,000 square foot conference centre, 8,000 square meters of retail space and a 300 seat theatre.

A report from the county's Planning Department said that the changes in the development and the reduction in the number of condominiums had meant that the development met the county's definition as a resort development.

"Residential units have been deleted from the west portion of the site. The resort uses are focused exclusively at the east end of the site, adjacent to and expanding form the existing marina," said the report

Little said that the county had been discussing a compromise solution with the owners of the Big Bay Point development over the past couple of months.

A full Ontario Municipal board hearing on the proposal was scheduled for May.

"Frankly, the county was facing millions of dollars of legal fees with an OMB hearing with no guarantee that we would win," said Little.

Simcoe County council rejected the proposal as premature in 2004 because the Big Bay Point area was not designated as a settlement area. It also said that it wanted to wait on the the final Inter Governmental Action Plan's completion. In December, 2004, Innisfil council supported a reduced proposal for the area which would have seen 2,800 condominiums.

Little said that Innisfil's support was critical in the change in the county's decision to not oppose the development.

"We also were told that the province would not object to the new smaller proposal," he said.

There were few local residents on hand for the Corporate Services committee meeting last week. It was a contrast to the open houses and public meetings held five years ago which saw the largest meetings ever held in the town's history.

If the new proposal is approved by county council, the decision will be discussed at a pre-hearing of the Ontario Municipal Board on the proposal to be held on Feb. 28.

Depending on public opposition to the new proposal, the planned hearings slated for May could be cancelled.


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