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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Lake Simcoe Mega-Marina Hearing Adjournment Denied: First Nations interests set aside as hearing plows forward

Lake Simcoe Mega-Marina Hearing Adjournment Denied: First Nations interests set aside as hearing plows forward

    ALLISTON, ON, Aug. 21 /CNW/ - Environmentalists are profoundly
disappointed the Ontario Municipal Board has dismissed a precedent-setting
adjournment request in the BBP mega-marina hearing in Innisfil Ontario.
The Board will commence on Tuesday the controversial hearing into the
1,600 unit, 1,000 boat marina development project, despite a complete lack of
aboriginal consultation in the face of demonstrated interest on the part of
First Nations.
Tim Gilbert of Gilbert's LLP brought a motion to adjourn the hearing in
order to address the fact that the developer failed to provide notice to and
consult with First Nations; the proceedings are premature as the proponent
lacks the necessary environmental approvals; the Premier of Ontario has
recently announced the Lake Simcoe Protection Act; and, finally, the Moving
Parties are unable to fully participate in the proceedings given the
atmosphere of intimidation.
In a decision released over e-mail at 11:15 am today, the board dismissed
the motion to adjourn. Written reasons will be released prior to the
commencement of the hearing on Tuesday August 21 at 10 am.
"We're shocked that a provincial Tribunal could dismiss our concerns
without even letting us become a Party," said Luc Lainé, cultural heritage
liaison for the Huron-Wendat in Ontario. "We told the OMB the developer's
consultant spoke to imposters and not our Nation, and they went ahead and
endorsed this process anyway. The Supreme Court of Canada is very clear about
the duty to consult First Nations; somebody should tell Minister Gerretsen and
the OMB."
The Huron-Wendat Nation, far from receiving adequate notice to allow for
meaningful consultation, are still awaiting a response from the Ministry of
Municipal Affairs and Housing to letters sent by their Grand Chief on July 25
and August 7.
The various Parties to the hearing are considering whether to appeal the
decision to dismiss the motion in the Ontario Superior Court, and may seek an
order staying the proceedings. Justice Lax recently granted leave to appeal a
decision of the OMB for not following its rules in the Queen West Triangle OMB
"The OMB has endorsed the practice of treating First Nations as second
class citizens," said Dr. Rick Smith, Executive Director of Environmental
Defence. "A court needs to review the Board's decision that Rogers Cable and
Canada Post get full hearing rights, but you can make up the rules for First
Nations as you go along."
The Board's decision to dismiss the motion to adjourn also left parties
wondering at the logic behind proceeding with planning approvals for a project
premised on a marina which has yet to receive any approvals from the
Department of Fisheries and Oceans.
"The OMB is putting the cart before the horse with this decision," said
Don Avery, President of the Innisfil District Association. "The developer is
years away from getting the marina approved, but the Board wants to charge
ahead under rules everyone knows are going to change in favour of the Lake."
Additionally, the premise of fractional ownership of the resort has left
Parties shaking their head in wonder.
"Designating this urban settlement a 'resort' is exploiting a blatant
loophole in the Official Plan," said Natalie Helferty, Director of
Conservation Policy, Ontario Nature. "This loophole was closed by the
Greenbelt on the other side of Lake Simcoe two years ago," she added.
The Ontario Municipal Board hearing resumes Tuesday, August 21, 2007 at
10:00 a.m. at the Nottawasaga Inn in Alliston, Ontario (Room 41), 6015 Highway
89; directions available online: The
hearing is expected to last for four months.
Campaign Lake Simcoe is a partnership of Environmental Defence, the
Rescue Lake Simcoe Coalition, and Ontario Nature

Friday, August 17, 2007

Big Bay Point - The Ontario Municipal Board will rule by Friday noon

The Ontario Municipal Board will rule by Friday noon on a motion to adjourn filed by the Innisfil District Association, a numbered company and Nextnine Limited.

After a full week of hearings, OMB chairperson Jan Seaborn said Wednesday she would consult with vice-chairperson Robert Beccarea Thursday and issue an order by noon Friday. The hearing opened Aug. 8, with a motion to adjourn, based on several points: failure to notify and include the Huron-Wendat nation; intimidation by the developer; and the project being premature due to the anticipated Lake Simcoe Protection Act.

“We want to commence the evidentiary portion of the hearing as detailed by the board’s procedural order, to have begun on Aug. 8. It didn’t because of the motions brought before us. We will have to make decisions on those motions,” said Seaborn.

“We propose to advise the parties no later than noon, Friday, Aug. 17 or as soon as possible before noon. An e-mail will be sent to counsel and will simply indicate the motion to adjourn is either granted or dismissed, with written reasons to follow.”

Depending on how the OMB rules, another motion could be considered: to grant the Huron-Wendat nation party status.

Lawyers for developer Geranium Corporation, Simcoe County, the Town of Innisfil and the Residents of Innisfil Association have all urged the board to deny the adjournment.

They argued the Huron-Wendat nation not only had adequate notice about the high-profile development that has been in the works several years, but also the native group failed to abide by the Courts of Justice Act in giving 15 days notice required for a Constitutional Question to allow the matter to be addressed by the Attorneys General of Canada and Ontario.

The week of hearings has also included a few witnesses, including an archeologist who testified there were a few shards from a pot on the Big Bay Point project site. The Huron-Wendat lawyer is Tim Gilbert – the same lawyer representing the IDA and Nextnine; he was retained in May after high-profile lawyer Jane Pepino quit. His firm has expertise in environmental law, and has managed files including the Walkterton Inquiry and the OMB hearing on the Oak Ridges Moraine.

“In our submission, (a major development) on the lake, with 200 feet of frontage … and the Chippewa a five-minute boat ride away, it’s not enough to say we put ads in the newspaper. Further, we have the archeological report saying there is stuff from the First Nations. Can you say every reasonable effort was made to consult?” argued Gilbert.

He urged the board to grant party status to the Huron-Wendat nation.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Mussels’ strength about to double

Mussels’ strength about to double
New threat arrives in Lake Simcoe

Zebra mussels have a new partner in crime in their invasion of Lake Simcoe. They’re called quagga mussels.

“You’ve got a double whammy now,” said Will Wegman from the Ministry of Natural Resources’ Aurora office, with zebras inhabiting the shallows and the quaggas taking up residence in the deeper areas.

Quagga mussels, a close cousin of zebra mussels, were first discovered in Lake Simcoe in 2004. Although similar in appearance, the quagga species are more oval-shaped as opposed to the D-shaped zebras.

Quagga mussels, first discovered at Port Colborne in Lake Erie in 1989, are commonly found at depths of 90 meet or more, on sandy or muddy bottoms, while zebras prefer rocky bottoms.

Like zebra mussels, quaggas efficiently filter water and can produce more than one million eggs per female each spawning season.
But the quaggas can reproduce at water temperatures a few degrees colder than what zebras prefer.

Zebra mussels are filter feeders and each one can process about one litre of water each day, sucking out plankton and other organic matter. This leaves the water cleaner, but it also robs other aquatic life of a food source, causing a trickle-down effect in the food chain.

Mussels negatively affect baby fish that also feed on microscopic organisms, but if some fish, such as smallmouth bass, can survive into adulthood, they can thrive, Wegman said. That’s because the water is clearer, and smallmouth bass rely on keen eyesight.

Anecdotal evidence from anglers suggests the overall size of smallmouth bass has increased in recent years. Fifteen years ago, a tournament winner could haul in the big prize with their five-fish entry weighing between 22 and 23 pounds, said Wegman, an avid angler. Today, a winner’s five-fish total will tip the scales at more than 25 pounds.

Less organic matter also allows sunlight to penetrate deeper into the water, beneficial to underwater plants and also resulting in increased water clarity.

“It’s one of those double-edged swords,” Wegman said. “There’s no question it’s clearing, not cleaning, up the lake. But it’s also totally changed the whole ecosystem.”

Lake Erie, so badly polluted that it was labelled as a “dead lake” in the 1960s, is now being compared to the vibrant hues of the Caribbean. Ironically, it’s the invasive zebra mussels, which entered the Great Lakes about two decades ago, that has created these increasingly clear waters, leaving many to believe that the lake was becoming cleaner and healthier.

But it’s all an illusion.

The jury’s still out on the effect of zebra mussels on Lake Simcoe.

“It’s hard to say whether it’s good or bad,” Wegman said. “It has changed the waters to an extent ... and now we have aquatic life where we didn’t have it before.”

Those areas include the northern portion of Cook’s Bay, the Virginia Basin near Sutton, and close to the shores of northern Lake Simcoe. Lake Simcoe covers about 725 square kilometres.

One thing is certain.

“They’re here to stay,” Wegman said of zebra mussels. “All the predators in the world won’t eliminate them.”

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Orchard Park planners respond to letter about proposed developed

Orchard Park planners respond to letter about proposed developed

As a response to Keith R. Elliott's letter to the editor regarding Orchard Point Harbour Development, we would like to address a number of discrepancies. Our firm acts as land use planners for this project and we would like to assure local residents the proper planning process has been followed for the applications of Orchard Point Harbour.

The developer started working with the City of Orillia staff in November 2006 to develop a project that would complement the residential area of Orchard Point. The development proposes three condominium buildings, two six-storey and one eight-storey building, with a total of 164 units. The proposed building heights conform to the City of Orillia's Official Plan, which permits eight-storey buildings.

The site lines and the views from Lake Simcoe were taken into consideration during the design of the project.
Three buildings angled to Lake Simcoe were designed versus one larger building. This design creates visual breaks and maintains site lines to Lake Simcoe.

To provide privacy to adjacent neighbours, a landscape plan has been designed to maintain existing mature trees and enhance the buffer along the northern property line. The design of the condominium buildings is tiered to create a stepped approach to the waterfront. This technique provides a visual appeal from the waterfront and reduces the overall massing of the buildings.

We have been working closely with the City of Orillia and approval agencies to develop a project that suits the community of Orillia. The applications for Orchard Point Harbour were submitted on April 19, 2007, several months before the council meeting in July 2007 regarding the interim control bylaw. The scheduled public meeting today is following the regular planning process set out in the Planning Act under Section (34) and has not been fast tracked.

Similar to previous proposals, the three condominiums will be developed in a phased approach.

The underground garage will accommodate 178 parking spaces. The underground garage allocates one or two parking spaces per unit. Surface parking of 28 spaces provides adequate visitor parking. As the development is marketed to empty nesters looking to downsize, often these residents only use one car.

The developer supports the installation of traffic lights at the intersection of Orchard Point and Atherley Road. We have spoken with the city in this regard, however, it is the Ministry of Transportation (MTO) that decides on whether lights are warranted. We have approached the MTO to find out if they would agree to a light at the intersection this time and are awaiting their comments. A residents' group meeting was held on July 28, 2007 providing the developer the opportunity to hear and discuss residents' concerns. The current proposal provides two entrances to the site which will adequately service the development. The development is not increasing the number of docks, but rather improving them. The launch ramp will be removed to eliminate boat-trailer parking.

We will continue to work with the City of Orillia, approval agencies and the public as we move through the planning process for the Orchard Point Harbour Development.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Native group joins in fight against $1B development

Native group joins in fight against $1B development

Aug 09, 2007 04:30 AM

Residents fighting a $1 billion marina and vacation resort on the western shores of Lake Simcoe have found a new ally in the Huron-Wendat Nation and the Chiefs of Ontario.

The groups found themselves on the same side of the table yesterday at the beginning of what was supposed to have been a four-month Ontario Municipal Board hearing into the controversial development on Big Bay Point, on the northeastern tip of Innisfil.

Instead, Tim Gilbert, lawyer for both the opposed residents and the Huron-Wendat, filed a motion to have the hearing adjourned on several grounds, including a claim that the First Nations group was never notified or consulted about the proposal until last month.

The project, on a 242-hectare property 10 kilometres east of Barrie, would feature 1,600 fractionally owned condos and townhomes, as well as 400 hotel rooms, a 1,000-slip boat marina and a golf course.

Its proposal five years ago provoked a nasty spat between developer Earl Rumm, of Geranium Corp., and some residents, cottagers and environmentalists who claim that a development that large – especially the marina – threatens an already fragile Lake Simcoe.

Opponents want the OMB hearings held off until after October's provincial election, because both the Tories and Liberals have said they will introduce legislation limiting development around the lake.

Premier Dalton McGuinty, however, has said his proposed protection act would not include Big Bay Point, which has the support of two residents' groups, the Town of Innisfil and Simcoe County.

"The First Nations affected by the development ... should have been consulted," Gilbert told the hearing yesterday in Alliston.

Documents filed at the hearing, he said, show that the 2004 discovery of pottery shards on the site by the developers' own archaeologist suggest the need for a detailed dig.

It is unclear which native group the artifacts belong to, but the Huron-Wendat claim there is a need to check for their mass burial sites because their ancestors lived in the area until 1648.

In a letter to Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister John Gerretsen, Quebec-based Max Gros-Louis, grand chief of the Huron-Wendat, said "our history of occupation of the north shore of Lake Ontario has been virtually wiped away by development." He said the Huron-Wendat still aren't being offered basic notification of such finds.

Huron-Wendat ossuaries, or mass burial sites, are scattered across south-central Ontario and have been found in recent times, including one near Jane St. and Teston Rd., where a York Region work crew discovered a site dating to 1450 with the remains of 400 people.

Gros-Louis said virtually every one of the hundreds of mass burial sites have "been dug up, the bones and sacred grave goods spirited away, sometimes to be stored in deplorable conditions."

"With this action (in Big Bay Point) we draw the line at Huronia," he wrote, saying his lawyers have filed a "notice of constitutional question" over the lack of notification with the attorneys general of Canada and Ontario.

Gilbert suggested that not allowing proper consultation with the Huron-Wendat is part of a pattern of "historic disregard" – a comment that prompted Jeffrey Davies, the developer's lawyer, to lash out at what he called grandstanding and a "soapbox sermon."

Davies said the constitutional notice should be quashed primarily because it was not filed within the requisite time period.

The residents, backed by groups such as Environmental Defence, also want the OMB hearings delayed on the grounds that lawsuits Rumm has filed against detractors – the head of a residents' group, local lawyers and cottagers – seeking $85.8 million in damages have created a climate of "intimidation."

Ontario Municipal Board vice-chair Jan Seaborn said she would allow a countermotion by Davies seeking to quash the native constitutional claims to be heard before hearing arguments about postponing the hearings.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Boating mishaps keep cops busy

Boating mishaps keep cops busy

Water traffic mishaps kept South Simcoe marine police riding the waves over the past few days.

One boater on Lake Simcoe who was not paying attention accidentally slammed his 20-foot Sunray into the stern of another vessel Sunday afternoon. A husband and wife, who had been enjoying some fishing near Glenwoods Beach in Innisfil in their 19-foot Century, were thrown from their seats when hit.

The man suffered injuries to his back and side. His wife was shaken but luckily not injured. A 61-year-old Aura man was charged with careless operation of a vessel, contrary to the Small Vessel Regulations.

The marine unit also had to help a Newmarket family in distress. Their 30-foot Carver ran aground near Innisfil. Help arrived and marine authorities managed to tug the vessel into safer and much deeper water without damaging the boat.

Yet another rescue was made when a 21 foot vessel lost power and wouldn’t start.

It was about two to three miles off shore from Innisfil Park on Sunday evening. A husband, his wife, children and two small grandchildren were all aboard at the time. They were towed to the closest marina in Lefroy.

Police remind boaters to be attentive at all times while at the helm of their vessel, especially during busy weekends when many boaters are using the waterways near marinas and beach areas.

Tory promises to match feds' commitment to Lake Simcoe

Tory promises to match feds' commitment to Lake Simcoe

York-Simcoe PC candidate Julia Munro, Conservative Party Leader John Tory and York-Simcoe MP Peter Van Loan were at the announcement in Barrie. photo by Bill Rea
A Progressive Conservative government would commit itself to investing $12 million over two years in support of efforts to clean up Lake Simcoe.

Party leader John Tory made the announcement, to the delight of accompanying supporters, when he appeared in Barrie last Wednesday.

Speaking on the shore of what he called "one of Ontario's crown jewels,"

Tory announced he has an eight-point plan for the lake, with the first point being the financial promise, matching the commitment the federal government made in its March budget.

"It's a natural treasure that we have to preserve," Tory remarked, as he also used the occasion to take a couple of shots at Premier Dalton McGuinty.

McGuinty put in a surprise appearance at last month's Lake Simcoe Summit to announce his plans to put a Lake Simcoe Act through the legislature.

"He's really done nothing," Tory charged, adding the Premier made his announcement at a "lastminute photo opportunity, with no money attached."

Meanwhile, Tory stressed his personal connection to the lake, the cottage his grandparents owned and his memories of fishing for perch. "I treasure the lake," he declared.

Other points in his plan include developing a new governance structure for the lake, working with stakeholders; creating a Lake Simcoe Charter; increasing and streamlining funding for water and wastewater infrastructure projects impacting on the lake (and across the province too); ending the dumping of primary sewage into waterways; hiring of more conservation officers to protect the lake and rebuilding the Ministry of Natural Resources so it can better maintain the health of the lake; conserving more green space with a Land Conservation Challenge Fund in areas like Lake Simcoe; and investing in better GO train service through the area of the lake to reduce pollution and smog.

"Dalton McGuinty has turned his back on the deteriorating health of this invaluable natural and recreational resource for four years," he commented.

"In contrast, a John Tory government will move quickly to ensure the province plays a greater roll in restoring the lake's ecological health."

The proposed new governance structure will involve other levels of government, as well as the private sector and conservationists. It will involve both elected and non-elected people, and will be streamlined to get things done for the lake.

Tory said the charter will come from the work of this governance structure, and it will set out realistic and measurable

targets for the care of the lake. He added the charter will include legislative and regulatory provisions.

He also said this won't be a top-down exercise.

"It's not about government," he declared. "It's about government showing leadership."

Tory said the party's commitment to the lake was laid out in black and white weeks before McGuinty made his announcement. He added the Premier's announcement seemed to be decided upon a couple of hours before it was made, pointing out there wasn't even a draft bill announced. He thought that was odd, given the importance of the lake, both in terms of the species it supports and its vitality to the local economy.

York - Simcoe MP Peter Van Loan was on hand for the announcement, and he said he was "particularly delighted to see the proposal to match the federal commitment of $12 million."

"It will go a long way to meeting the challenges that the lake faces," he added. "Here, you've got real dollars and a real action plan."

"Years of Liberal inaction have taken their toll on Lake Simcoe's sensitive ecosystem," Van Loan remarked. "Our Conservative government is taking action to ensure Lake Simcoe is protected and preserved for future generations. I am pleased that John Tory is willing to take similar action if he becomes Premier in October."

York North MPP Julia Munro (who will be running in York - Simcoe for the PCs in this fall's provincial election) was also pleased with the announcement.

She stated Mcguinty has only indicated his legislative intentions to do something for the lake. "That isn't what I believe is necessary," she commented.

She said a commitment of funding and and realistic targets are needed, and that's what Tory's announcement will provide.

Munro was another who had not been too impressed with McGuinty's announcement last month. She had been on her way tot he Summit herself when she heard the Premier was going to put in an appearance. "It did seem as though it was a spur-of-the-moment decision," she recalled, adding that was about a month after the PCs had identified the need to do something about sewage getting into waterways. "We can't allow the level of pollution that comes from improper treatment," she remarked.

Candidates for other parties weren't as impressed.

"Nice of them to catch up," commented John Gilbank, who is running for the Liberals in York - Simcoe. "He's about three weeks late."

"The point of this is not politics," he said. "It's about the health of the lake. So if he wants to support the Mcguinty proposal, that's great."

As well, he charged the Conservatives voted against the Clean Water Act, even though it delivered on 12 for the recommendations from the Walkerton inquiry.

"Hopefully, the Conservatives' belated interest in Lake Simcoe will mean speedy passage for Premier McGuinty's legislation to protect it," he commented. "But the Conservatives' misguided desire to scrap the Clean Water Act puts the lake and our drinking water at risk."

"Finally, the other parties are catching up to the NDP concerning environmental issues," commented Nancy Morrison, NDP candidate in York - Simcoe, who also charged it was the PCs under Mike Harris who cut back on conservation authorities.

She also wasn't impressed with Mcguinty's announcement last month, stating it "shared no specific plans, nor budget regarding Lake Simcoe, so it was just another McGuinty promise, and I know first hand how much his promises mean."

Friday, August 03, 2007

Lake Simcoe needs action

First the Canadian government was going to save Lake Simcoe. Then the Ontario government said it would save Simcoe.

And now the Progressive Conservative Party says it wants to be the lake's knight on a white horse.

All of which is fine, provided one or two or all three of these political entities actually gets around to the job, which Lake Simcoe's Conservation Authority estimates will cost about $160 million. The sneaky suspicion is that what's been promised to save the lake isn't enough, and it isn't being done for all the right reasons.

The federal Conservatives got into the act first this year with a $12-million plan in their mid-March budget. At least they're a sitting government and can begin saving the lake, although details on what's to be done and when are few and far between.

Ontario's Liberal government unveiled its plan during last month's Lake Simcoe Summit in Barrie, when Premier Dalton McGuinty made a surprise visit.

His plan for a Lake Simcoe Protection Act would improve sewage treatment standards and set strict limits for pollutants - such as phosphorus - and promote recreational opportunities, while protecting the lake.

But McGuinty made the announcement after he'd dissolved the legislature, with the Oct. 10 provincial election ahead of him. So it was an election promise, nothing more, nothing less.

The same goes for Ontario Tory leader John Tory's eight-point, $12-million action plan for Lake Simcoe, announced last week.

It includes increased funding for water treatment facilities and projects having an impact on the lake, creating a Lake Simcoe charter, a land conservation challenge fund and hiring more conservation officers.

Good ideas, but difficult to implement if the Tories aren't the next Ontario government or in a position to influence it after the election.

Let's not forget what's at stake here.

Excluding the Great Lakes, Lake Simcoe is Southern Ontario's largest inland lake. It provides safe drinking water for six municipalities, and generates more than $200 million a year for this area's economy, through recreational use.

But Simcoe's ecosystem has been disrupted, its sustainability threatened, by increased levels of phosphorous from both urban and rural sources.

An argument can be made, of course, that whatever help any political party offers to save Lake Simcoe is better than no help at all.

Ottawa should be able to follow through with it's $12-million commitment, unless Harper stumbles and sends Canadians to the polls anytime soon. And since both the Liberals and Tories agree that Lake Simcoe needs saving, perhaps they can work together after the election to get a plan working.

But all three parties need reminding that even millions of dollars and detailed plans don't make for anything resembling action. What those who know and love Lake Simcoe want is something done, and almost right away.

The time for talking about saving Lake Simcoe is over. It's time to save the lake, and political promises don't cut it.

The time for talking about saving Lake Simcoe is over. It's time to save the lake

Big Bay Point - hearings to start

Despite Simcoe County and Ontario approving the Big Bay Point Resort, the Ontario Municipal Board is still booking four and a half months for a hearing that starts Wednesday.

“In talking with people here, they think it will (last that long),” said OMB spokesperson Bob Wilson.

The OMB is bracing for a barrage of expert witnesses from both developer Geranium Corporation and opponents Nextnine and Innisfil District Association.

“The general wisdom is people are still at complete opposite ends,” added Wilson, noting that the case no longer includes the County of Simcoe.

Innisfil District Association president Don Avery said the hearing will last as long as the developer wants.

“I don’t know if the developer wants to be short-and-sweet or drag it out. We’ll have to wait and see,” he said. “How long it will go is hard to say. We would hope it would not proceed based on emotion.”

Nextine and Innisfil Action have lost high-profile municipal affairs lawyer Jane Pepino. She has been replaced by well-known environmental lawyer David Donnelly.

“Jane felt the province was going to carry the load on the environmental issue,” said Avery. “I don’t believe that. The size of the project with the 1,000-slip marina is on an unprecedented scale and will have environmental impact.”

The road to the resort has been a long one, and included several detours.

The county had delayed approving the resort, as it awaited results of the Intergovernmental Action Plan (IGAP) study, which it received a year ago.

During the past year, the developer has also scaled back the number of units and revised its site plan, to ensure the resort does not become a settlement area. The county approved Innisfil’s official plan amendment that allows the resort to proceed in February and Ontario signed off on the plan in June.

As well, Premier Dalton McGuinty has said the resort would not be subject to the Lake Simcoe Protection Act, which he promises will pass if his government is re-elected in October.

“Geranium has worked very long and hard. It has been a five-year process, and to have received approval from the Town of Innisfil, the County of Simcoe and finally the province is very encouraging,” said company spokesperson Jim Maclean.

“We’ve certainly gone the extra mile – or kilometre – to consult.”

After the county approved the plan, the company hosted discussions with area residents and a variety of stakeholder groups, to fine-tune its plan. Geranium is also extending sewer and water services into the area, which will help get as many as 1,600 homes off septic systems and onto municipal services.

The OMB hearing starts at 10:30 a.m., and is open to the public. It takes place at the Nottawasaga Inn, room 41.