Planning Board to decide on future Assiginack subdivision

ASSIGINACK – Members of Manitoulin Planning Board (MPB) voted at a January 26 meeting to defer granting approval for the draft conditions on a proposed 49-lot subdivision between Sunsite Estates and Bay Estates until Township of Assiginack officials and board members can review public comments and their own concerns about the draft conditions before the next MPB meeting.

“I’m wondering if we should have a motion to adjourn this until the municipality of Assiginack has had the chance to review this, because conditions and everything else can change,” said MPB member Ken Noland at the meeting, following a presentation from the board’s secretary-treasurer Theresa Carlisle.

Ms. Carlisle said the draft conditions are intended to be changed if required, but acknowledged that giving the board, the applicants and the township more time to review the documents and public concerns would help finalize the wording of the draft conditions.

Richard Stephens seconded Mr. Noland’s motion and the board agreed to defer the application until the next meeting to allow time to resolve some of the concerns.

The application in question is for a waterfront subdivision of 49 seasonal residential lots that stretch from Sunsite Estates up to just before the border with the Northeast Town and its Bay Estates subdivision.

The applicant and owner, Leah Pezzutto, owns lots 25 and 26 in the seventh and eighth concessions, as well as lots 22 through 25 in the seventh and eighth concessions. The application report, presented by Ms. Carlisle, states that the applicant wishes to take up ownership of the 25th Concession road allowance to consolidate the land parcels.

There is a proposed municipal road that will connect at the south end of the proposed development onto Sunsite Estates Road. 

Although Sunsite Estates has a water treatment plant, Assiginack has not expressed desire to extend the service area of that plant to the new subdivision. Each lot will rely on private septic systems and either well or Manitowaning Bay water.

A hydrogeological assessment from Exp Services Inc. dated October 5, 2020 stated that the septic beds should be as far from the water as possible, lot owners should consider installing phosphorus and nitrate removal systems in their septic systems and they should install disinfection, filtration and water treatment systems to ensure Manitowaning Bay water is safe and free of metals or other contaminants.

Manitoulin Planning Board members have deferred a decision on the draft plans for a new seasonal subdivision in Assiginack until the February board meeting. The proposal is for 49 waterfront building lots between Sunsite Estates and Bay Estates.

Island real estate agent Jordan Chandler is the developer of the site. He arranged for a stage one and two archaeological assessment of the property and a preliminary stage one report from P Julig Surveys acknowledged that the area “has sandy beaches containing high archaeological potential in undisturbed area.” 

However, testing in those high-potential areas revealed no artifacts or sites. The second stage work was to continue into this past fall.

In October, MPB sent copies of the subdivision application to United Chiefs and Councils of Mnidoo Mnising (UCCMM) and Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territories. Wiikwemkoong did not reply and a UCCMM representative raised a question about the recommendation in the hydrogeological assessment report.

That report suggested the use of a Waterloo Biofilter system, and UCCMM wondered how that could become a requirement. Ms. Carlisle responded that the system would not likely be a condition for approval because it may be years before owners install septic systems and technologies or companies may change before that time.

When the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) performed an initial screening of the application, it did not immediately identify any natural heritage features. Board member Ian Anderson and members of the public disputed this statement, stating that endangered Blanding’s turtles are known to live in the area. Mr. Anderson asked if any mitigation efforts such as road underpasses and protected wetlands and nesting sites should be discussed at this stage or later in the process.

Ms. Carlisle said a future condition could require the owner to complete a study and get a green light from both the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks and MNRF that species at risk would be protected during the development.

Meeting guest Anne Blondin said she took issue with MNRF’s initial assertion that there were no species at risk present, because she said she knew of confirmed sightings of species at risk. She urged the board to make sure that does not get overlooked in the planning process.

The environmental impact statement is still underway and is expected to address the concerns about species at risk in the area.

Assiginack still has to agree to the closure of the 25th Concession road allowance and to provide comments about the road, the water treatment plant and the subdivision agreement.

MPB received a total of 13 emails and one letter about the proposal; those will be included within the meeting minutes.

The board regularly meets on the fourth Tuesday of each month.