Planning Board tells Ont. reps it will not support development restrictions

GORE BAY—Members of the Manitoulin Planning Board (MPB) have made it clear that they will not support restrictions on development on right-of-way/private roads to be part of the new Official Plan for the Island.

“If we agree to have development on the right of ways and private roads restricted, it means development would be limited. If we lose the development on right of ways it will kill Manitoulin Island,” stated MPB chair Ken Noland at a meeting last week.

Elva Carter, secretary-treasurer of the MPB, said the board had indicated last fall that they would not accept the restrictions, and that Bridget Schulte-Hostedde, manager of community planning and development with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, and Kasper Koblauch, MMAH planner were in attendance to discuss these issues.

The MMAH wants the Official Plan to include restricted development on new right of ways and private roads.

Ms. Schulte-Hostedde pointed out the MMAH had received a copy of the MPB’s policy on approvals for private roads and rights of ways. “We understand the history of development on private roads on Manitoulin. And we recognize that many had existing lots that were sold, and it may be a concern for the Island if there are restrictions in place. In discussion with Elva I’ve indicated we would support limited infilling on existing roads. We are pretty comfortable with that. We are also okay with some extension on private roads, but we will not open the door widely for development on new private roads.”

“We must not be the first area to approach you on this issue (of limited development); I know other municipalities in other areas have this same concern,” said

Ms. Schulte-Hostedde encouraged the MPB to adopt a policy that reflects the needs of Manitoulin. “We would not agree to a wide open policy, but maybe recognize historic right of ways.” She said once the MPB submits its final Official Plan proposal, “we make recommendations on it before it is accepted (by the ministry). In this case we might recommend modifications to certain policies. There are lots of steps to go on this.”

“So what you are proposing is that there can be some extension on private roads, but not creating new development on new rights of way,” said Lyle Addison. He explained that in areas like Western Manitoulin, which is sparsely populated, that if new lots can’t be created it would mean many acres of land would be deemed useless.

“Property values would be gone,” stated Doug Head.

“You are saying new lots couldn’t be created to access right of ways. I don’t think this would be fair either,” said one board member.

“The board needs to understand why the province is taking this stand,” said Ms. Carter.

“We are taking a best approach look on new development on these type of roads that are safe and appropriate for an area,” said Ms. Schulte-Hostedde.

“How many municipalities can support this non-development?” asked Mr. Head. “There should be common sense used, and considering the history of development for people who live in an area,” said Mr. Head.

Ms. Schulte-Hostedde suggested that since this is a draft OP-formative plan that once it is formally approved by the board it would be go to the ministry, which would take these concerns into consideration.

“So the board would approve a plan they want, and the province would then decide they wouldn’t allow this type of development on right of ways/private roads,” said Mr. Noland. “And our only recourse would be to appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB), which would cost us a lot of money. I would say we aren’t willing to pass our Official Plan while we are fighting the province on this issue.”

Ms. Schulte-Hostedde said any decision on the Official Plan, or modifications made to the OP are both significant. “There would be no guarantee the Official Plan would be modified the way the board has suggested.”

“Lanark County is in the same position as we are and they have appealed the decision on its OP to the OMB,” said Mr. Noland. “The province told them there would be no development on right of ways/private roads. This board (MPB) has indicated this is not acceptable for us. There has been millions of dollars of development created on Manitoulin over the years through this development. The only way to grow is through development. If we don’t have development take place on the Island our municipalities can’t survive.”

“Is there a middle ground that would be acceptable to us and the province?” asked Brent St. Denis.

“We did prepare a draft and they don’t accept this policy, so now we are at the argument stage,” said Mr. Noland.

Ms. Schulte-Hostedde said a year ago the MMAH position was a little more restrictive than it currently is. “Again I want to reiterate we do very carefully consider modifications. This is not something that is taken lightly.”

“I understand there needs to be some development controls, but there needs to be some common ground on this issue,” said Lee Hayden.

“We’re at an impasse,” said Mr. Noland.

The ball is in the MMAH’s court, Ms. Schulte-Hostedde was told. “I understand clearly what the planning board’s position is. What I’m hearing is that the board will not compromise on this issue. We will have to revisit this policy.”