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Thursday, June 21, 2007

Swimmers could be squeezed out by boats

Dock dilemma pondered; Councillor worried swimmers could be squeezed out by boats

An inability to regulate docks could result in boats whizzing in and out of a small Lake Couchiching bay right by one of Orillia's main swimming areas, Coun. Tim Lauer says. As a plan for an eight-storey highrise condominium moves forward for the shore next to Moose Beach, Lauer pointed out the city has little control over whether a developer lays down one small dock or a full-blown marina. Lauer has taken a page from the story of Sophie's Landing, a subdivision off Atherley Road whose developer managed to float a dock on Lake Simcoe without council's approval. "The experience at Sophie's Landing indicates to me that there should be concerns," Lauer told The Packet & Times. That concern sparked a discussion at Monday night's council committee meeting over whether the eight-storey Panoramic Point project, planned for a plot of land at Lake Couchiching, will mean more docks.
Powerboats zipping back and forth in the small bay used by swimmers and sunbathers at Moose Beach would be "a real shame," Lauer argued during the meeting. "Will we be able to control that dock?" he asked. Kathy Suggitt, director of planning and development, acknowledged the city "doesn't have control over regulation of the docks," but added opportunities arise for municipal control as condo plans come before council for approval. Docks, Suggitt explained, fall under the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and tend to operate as lease agreements with the province. An application for draft plan of condominium approval for Panoramic Point at 354 Atherley Rd. received a nod from council committee Monday night in a split vote. Both Mayor Ron Stevens and Coun. Ralph Cipolla assured Panoramic Point's developer hadn't mentioned any plans for docks. But Clarence Poirier, president of P&B Marketing and spokesman for the project, said Tuesday future residents have expressed an interest in docks. "We are looking into the opportunity of having floating docks; however, we haven't gotten approval yet," Poirier said. If approved, the size of the facility would be modest, he added, noting it would serve very small crafts. Rafaella Mooney, a lands technician at the Ministry of Natural Resources Midhurst office, said she isn't familiar enough with Panoramic Point to comment on what agency would regulate docks there. But she said every scenario is different, depending on whether docks are on private water lots or Crown land. "It's not cut and dried." In the case of Sophie's Landing, the developer owns the lake bed, Mooney said. Though docks on private property are still subject to approvals from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and Canadian Coast Guard, the ministry only has direct involvement in those which make use of provincial Crown land, she pointed out. The size of facilities can be influenced by environmental and navigational requirements, as well as feedback from stakeholders, including municipalities, Mooney said.

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