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Friday, October 17, 2008

Big Bay Point Resort -Lawyers cannot incur legal costs, OMB told

Lawyers cannot incur legal costs, OMB told
Developer wants firm, residents to pay fees

The Ontario Municipal Board has no jurisdiction to award costs against lawyers, said the counsel for the law firm that helped Innisfil residents battle a huge development on Lake Simcoe.

The developer, who won the case, is now demanding that the protesting residents and their law firm pay $3.2 million in legal costs the company incurred fighting back last year.

"The role of the counsel is to follow instructions – that's what my clients did," said Jeff Cowan, who was representing Gilberts LLP and its lawyers on the third day of the costs hearing yesterday. The board can only award costs if the lawyers are not acting as lawyers but are the de facto party involved, Cowan argued.

All eyes are on this case, which could set a precedent for other clashes between developers and residents against urban sprawl.

Critics of the $1 billion project called Big Bay Point Resort near Innisfil say that the developers' demand for legal costs is an attempt to silence citizens and ratepayers. They also say that the project is detrimental to the environment and the health of Lake Simcoe.

When it was proposed six years ago, it provoked a spat between the developer and some residents, cottagers and environmentalists who claimed a development that large would threaten an already fragile Lake Simcoe.

The hearing continues today.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

No one wants a boat launch in their backyard

No one wants a boat launch in their backyard
Open house gives residents a chance to respond to proposals

Feedback is what the city asked for and feedback is what they got.

Residents around three proposed boat launch options were at city hall Thursday night to look at the plans and leave their comments.

In 2007, after an earlier recommendation from the recreation advisory committee to look at additional boat launches, city council budgeted $5,000 to study potential locations for new or expanded facilities.

Three sites were identified and drawings were on display Thursday night to get local reaction. The three proposed areas: Kitchener park, with the launch located across from Olive Crescent, Portage Bay, with the launch located at the end of Couchiching Point Road and an expansion of the facilities currently at Collins Drive, would each have dedicated parking lots allowing for turnaround and car/trailer parking. In a February 2008 report, the Kitchener Park site was identified as the most desirable.

Residents of the area, including Brian Jewitt and Doug Sumner, don't agree.

"I think our concerns are to do with the change in the character of the neighbourhood, like cutting down trees and paving," said Jewitt, who also represents a condominium association in the building located across the street from the park.

With fairly shallow depth, he isn't sure how effective a launch at that location would be and added the location at the end of Couchiching Point Road also has a shallow depth.

"You'd probably have to change the bottom of the lake," he said.

But Wendy Zapreff, who lives on Collins Drive, doesn't see an expansion of the current launch there as the solution either.

"Collins is a very narrow street," she said, noting that when cars park along both sides of the street it is difficult to manoeuvre.

"Fine. It's a boat ramp now, but you don't want it to get any bigger," she said.

Continued After Advertisement Below


Ray Merkley, director of parks and recreation for the city, said the idea behind new boat launch facilities would be to accommodate smaller boats.

Norah Taylor was at the open house sporting her Ladies of the Lake T-shirt. She also lives across from the proposed Kitchener Park launch.

"We need to assess the new Lake Simcoe Protection Act," she said, noting the bill has already received two readings and public meetings are set to start in October.

Before any action is taken, she'd like to see that act studied to see what it recommends for facilities along the shoreline.

"I want to maximize its usage," she said of Lake Simcoe. "As long as it's sustainable and in a fair way."

Merkley said staff will take the comments from the public, compile a report and present it to council.