Assiginack objects to curtailed building on Lake Manitou

LAKE MANITOU—Assiginack council has added its voice to the growing list of municipalities who are concerned that the draft Official Plan will mean an end to development on Lake Manitou, which will likely be deemed ‘at capacity’ by the Ministry of Natural Resources before the finalized Official Plan comes due.

During the last meeting of Assiginack council, a resolution was passed which stated: “Whereas comments received thus far regarding potential future development on lands surrounding Lake Manitou do not seem to allow for any future opportunities; and whereas Lake Manitou is extremely important to numerous Manitoulin municipalities; and whereas other Manitoulin jurisdictions have requested a discussion on mechanisms to review the potential for future developments; now therefore that the council of the Township of Assiginack lends it voice to the chorus asking the Ministries of the Environment and Natural Resources to outline a mechanism to review future applications for development adjacent to Lake Manitou.”

“I think it’s important that development is not completely docked on that lake,” stated Councillor Paul Moffat.

“But (development must be) done with concern for the lake,” both Councillors Leslie Fields and Bob Case added.

“We can’t completely stop it,” Councillor Fields said. The Manitoulin Planning Board has also made its view known on the subject of planning on Lake Manitou.

“The MNR has stated that Lake Manitou is at capacity,” said Elva Carter, secretary-treasurer of the planning board in a recent interview. “The only decision left to be made in the mind of the MNR is the province wants us to name the lake as at capacity for development, but the board has made it known it doesn’t want to name this lake for this designation. If measures are taken and the lake can again be ready for development, it would then require an Official Plan amendment.”

Ms. Carter explained that she wrote a letter to the MNR on behalf of the planning board regarding its concerns in reply to a letter sent in July.

“This letter is in response to your letter dated July 26, 2013 and the one window comments regarding the draft Official Plan for the Manitoulin Planning area which stated that Lake Manitou is considered to be at capacity for development,” she wrote.

“This letter was reviewed by the planning board members and, while understanding the importance of this lake, planning board members feel it is negligent to just let the lake further deteriorate and want to be informed of what actions are being taken to rectify the water quality,” the letter continues. “The following motion was moved, duly seconded and carried that, the Ministries of Natural Resources and the Environment be requested to follow up on their findings and take appropriate measures to protect this lake other than just terminating development.”

The topic of Lake Manitou has also come up at the Central Manitoulin council table, most recently in the form of a letter received from former reeves Perry Anglin and Hugh Moggy, of Central Manitoulin and Assiginack respectively.

“New shoreline dwellings, largely for retirees, have been the major source of modest assessment growth to sustain municipal and social services and to replace jobs lost to the demise of family farms in an area with among the lowest average incomes in Ontario,” Mr. Anglin and Mr. Moggy wrote.

Council decided to forward the letter to its planning board representative, Keith Legge, to be brought forward on Central Manitoulin’s behalf.

Alicia McCutcheon with files from Tom Sasvari