Former Island reeves decry threat to Lake Manitou development

To the Expositor:

We write as former reeves and Planning Board members to protest schemes by the ministries of natural resources and municipal affairs that will hurt local residents.

News that the bureaucrats want to forbid development within 300 meters (1,000 feet!) of Lake Manitou shoreline and outlaw building on private roads was first reported publicly two weeks ago, demonstrating that consultation meetings held in the summer were superficial. Their target for implementation of a freeze through a new Official Plan early in October appears to circumvent an appeal that we understand is currently before the Ontario Municipal Board.

The ostensible purpose is to protect fish habitat for lake trout transplanted from an MNR facility on Lake Manitou to other lakes. This seems implausible because an MNR study some years ago concluded that the lake could sustain some 5,000 dwellings, more than five times the current number. Lake Manitou, the largest on Manitoulin, is deep and huge with more than 50 miles of shoreline touching several municipalities.

There appears to be no impartial evidence that proper shorefront development affects water quality. Any such risk might come only from outdated septic systems heedlessly grandfathered by health regulations. Any change to water temperature is doubtless due to global warming and has nothing to do with benign development.

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.

The intended freeze on development amounts to expropriation without compensation to the landowners and municipalities. In effect, through a back door, it creates a huge provincial park on private land.

Maddeningly, we have been unable to learn whether the freeze would spare small building lots already registered by owners planning to build.

Southern Ontario would not have tolerated such a freeze. Nor should local municipalities and the Manitoulin Planning Board.

Perry Anglin, former reeve,
Central Manitoulin Township
Hugh Moggy, former reeve, Assiginack Township