Planning Board wants veto process in place on lands deemed parkland

GORE BAY—Members of the Manitoulin Planning Board, in discussion on the draft Official Plan for the Island, have made it clear they want something in the plan that allows municipalities input and the right to appeal any lands turned over by the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) or other agencies for purchase and having them turned into parkland.

“We as municipalities should have an appeal process before the MNR or others turn over these lands for parkland and we lose out on the tax rolls and revenues,” stated Tehkummah Reeve Gary Brown at a planning board meeting last week. “There is no growth in parkland. Why can’t we lead discussion before these lands are turned into private lands?”

Keith Legge said this process should be done through the new Official Plan.

“The MNR and the province stamps these lands as being tax exempt and our taxpayers have to make up these costs. We had a bunch of these happen in our township (Burpee-Mills),” said Ken Noland. “And when we asked if we could appear we were told in one case we had 90 days, and we carried this out in 27 days, but our appeal was refused. We are not getting anywhere on this issue,” continued Mr. Noland. “We were told by an official with the Natural Conservancy of Canada at a recent meeting that we would be notified if they were looking at purchasing any more property. But we need some say, and to be part of the process, and be allowed to (review) these lands being turned over to private enterprise. I want to see municipalities being able to veto tax exemptions on lands that are purchased.”

The board’s comments will be sent to the consultants for the draft Official Plan, prior to the new plan coming in front of the board later this fall.

Tom Sasvari