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Monday, December 17, 2007

OMB decision on Big Bay Point Resort

NNISFIL, ON, Dec. 14 /CNW/ - After earning widespread support over five years of public meetings and design workshops, Geranium Corporation today welcomed the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) ruling that clears the way for the Big Bay Point Resort. The OMB decision comes one month after the conclusion of more than three months of public hearings, which began August 8th and concluded on November 14th.

The resort proposal has earned the support of the Town of Innisfil, the County of Simcoe, the province of Ontario and the largest local ratepayers groups in Innisfil and local environmentalists.

"For economic reasons, this is a great decision for the Town of Innisfil and the County of Simcoe, but more importantly, it's also a great environmental victory for Lake Simcoe, and for those people who, like myself, are truly committed to improving the quality of the Lake," noted Geranium president Earl Rumm.

In addition to setting aside one-third of the resort property as an environmentally-protected area, qualified professional scientists have conducted repeated, extensive peer-reviewed environmental studies over the last five years, which have proven beyond any doubt that the resort will help improve the water quality of Lake Simcoe by reducing the amount of phosphorus entering the lake.

The resort itself will be built to the high environmental standards of LEED, the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program.

Geranium will also pay the approximately $10 million cost of extending sewer service from the Alcona Waste Water Treatment plant to the resort. That extension will give 1600 existing homeowners now on septic systems, and a private golf course whose owners opposed the resort, the opportunity to make the environmentally responsible choice to get off septics and onto sewers.

"Geranium looks forward to the upcoming consultations promised by Premier McGuinty when he announced his intention to introduce a Lake Simcoe Act. As environmentally progressive and responsible developers, we have led by example and will be encouraging both existing and future residents around the lake, as well as other developers, to 'walk the talk' when it comes to protecting Lake Simcoe," concludes Rumm.

Big Bay Point Resort Fact Sheet

Size and location: 239 hectares (590 acres) in the north eastern part of the Town of Innisfil on Big Bay Point between the shores of Kempenfelt Bay and the open waters of Lake Simcoe, bounded by Lake Simcoe to the east, the 13th Line to the south, and Big Bay Point Road to the north and west. The central portion of the property, 87.5 hectares (216 acres) in size, is to be designated an Environmental Protection Area.
Marina: The site currently includes a 375-slip marina which is no longer in operation. When re-developed and enlarged, the new marina component will contain a maximum of 1,000 boat slips.

Accommodation: A maximum of 2,000 resort accommodation units will be constructed, consisting of 400 hotel units and 1,600 resort units, all of which are subject to occupancy restrictions and none of which may be permanently occupied.

Golf Course: A championship 18-hole golf course designed by Doug Carrick will be built and maintained to the stringent environmental standards of Audubon International.

The process that led to approval: During the almost five year approval process that began in 2002, both the County of Simcoe and the Town of Innisfil retained peer reviewers in various technical disciplines to assist their respective staff in assessing the resort proposal and the technical materials submitted in support of it. This resulted in a significant body of reports both from the staff and peer reviewers and documents a careful, thorough and intense level of scrutiny of all aspects of the project. The review process by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, the County and the Town also involved receiving and analyzing comments by other public authorities and agencies, including the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority, which has no objection to the development proposal, provided that its conditions are satisfied. The proposal has the support of the democratically elected representatives of the Province, Town and County. The public had a full opportunity to participate in the planning approval process, including the hearing before the Ontario Municipal Board. Public input has been received and considered by the Province, Town and County and the expressed concerns of members of the public have been specifically addressed.

Provincial government involvement: The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, (MMAH), was the lead ministry and it consulted with and relied on the advice of the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Ministry of the Environment. MMAH's agreement to support the development proposal was not forthcoming until Geranium produced satisfactory studies and reports on matters of provincial interest.

Economic Benefits: The Big Bay Point Resort will have a wide range of positive economic impacts, including:

- 3600 person-years of employment during construction
- $1.2 million in building permit fees
- $17.7 million in development charges for the Town, County and school
- 940 permanent jobs upon completion, making the resort the Town's
largest employer by a factor of more than 4 times
- $50 million in purchases of goods and services, (appliances,
furnishings, etc), as a result of the initial sale of units
- $35 million in annual retail spending by owners, renters and visitors
once the resort is operating, part of which will flow to Town
businesses outside the resort
- In terms of municipal services and expenditures, it will operate on a
fiscal surplus at both the Town and County levels
- It will help meet the economic objectives outlined in by the province
and the county

Environmental Protection and Benefits: The resort will ensure protection
of natural heritage features as well as water quality and quantity. The resort
is required to meet the same tests for the protection of the environment as
those set out by the province and the county. The resort offers protection,
enhancements and benefits that go beyond those required including:

- the preservation of an Environmental Protection Area containing
87 hectares of woodlands and wetlands
- a much more stringent policy protection for the Environmental
Protection area than permitted under the previous "Greenlands"
designation applicable to these lands, which would have permitted
farming, golf courses, resorts and housing; none of these uses will
now be permitted under the new designation
- the Environmental Protection Area will be required to be transferred
to public ownership or be subject to other protection measures such
as a conservation easement
- Geranium will be required to prepare a Planting or
Reforestation/Compensation Plan prior to any development occurring
- Geranium will be required to replace every hectare of woodland
removed from its lands with a minimum of two hectares of forested and
reforested land to the satisfaction of the Town, County and
Conservation Authority, either through plantings on Geranium lands
and/or through the conveyance to a public authority of off-site
forested lands
- a substantial reduction in phosphorus loading to the marina basin and
Lake Simcoe, up to 54% less than caused by existing uses on the site,
thus meeting or exceeding the lake-wide reduction target encouraged
by the Lake Simcoe Environmental Management Strategy, (LSEMS)
- Audubon International certification for construction and operation of
the golf course. This entails the highest standards of environmental
performance in the golf industry. It provides external third party
guidance and review of all environmental measures introduced during
the design and operation of the golf course. After certification,
annual follow-up water monitoring and reporting continues for the
lifetime of the course
- Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification
for the resort itself
- Development and operation of the marina in accordance with the "Clean
Marine" program, which is a tool kit of best management practices for
marina operations. Like the Audubon certification, the Clean Marine
program includes a third-party audit and it is a program designed for
Ontario marinas and deals with federal and provincial regulations
- A net gain in the amount of available fish habitat; over 3 times that
which is currently present, along with an opportunity to improve the
quality of the fish habitat from the existing situation
- Use of best management practices for stormwater management, including
pumping stormwater from the marina village to a stormwater treatment
pond within the golf course area that can then be used for golf
course irrigation
- Use of "LID", (low impact development), techniques, including a new
land use and engineering design approach that will preserve natural
heritage areas and minimize pollutants
- A commitment to superior sewage treatment using advanced phosphorus
removal technologies
- An amphibian and reptile habitat enhancement program which will be
reviewed by the Town, County and Province
- Requirements for environmental stewardship and education, including
production of an educational brochure for all purchasers, users and
visitors to the resort

Additional Benefits: In addition to the economic and environmental
benefits, the following will also be achieved:

- increased recreational and cultural amenities for residents of
- improved transportation networks, including a public collector road
through the project which will provide a second point of access for
Big Bay Point residents
- the addition of an emergency vehicle connection at the terminus of
Maple Grove Road, providing an important emergency access for the
residents to the south of Big Bay Point
- the extension of municipal wastewater services to make them
accessible to cottages and homes within the designated shoreline
areas and the Big Bay Point area that are currently on private
services, thus providing even greater reductions in phosphorus
loading into Lake Simcoe
- the extension of municipal water services to the same area described
- the donation of land for and construction of a civic facility for a
use such as a fire station in the southwest part of the resort lands


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