OMB Hearing into Trailer Park Proposal Takes Surprising Turn
On 1 May, the trailer park proposed for the brow of the Nipissing Ridge south of Concession Road 3, ran into unanticipated difficulties.
The development proposal was before the Ontario Municipal Board because the proponent, Dr. Donald Stubbs, had appealed the Township’s rejection of his plans. “Parties” (those with lawyers presenting their views) at the hearing were Dr. Stubbs, the Township, FoTTSA, and the County of Simcoe.
SETTLEMENTS REACHED: During the long period leading up to the hearing, all the parties had settled their differences (though details still required fine tuning).
• The Township settled once Dr. Stubbs agreed not to have paintball as one of the Park’s activities.
• FoTTSA had expressed many concerns about the development, both directly to Council and at the public meetings about the trailer park (among them the placing of a substandard “subdivision” with more population than Wyevale in the countryside rather than in one of the hamlets, the inappropriate use of prime agricultural land, and the likelihood of additional pressure on already crowded public beaches). But planners who reviewed the history of the development for FoTTSA felt that the proposal was unassailable at this late date, except with regard to the use of prime agricultural land (Lot 24) for purposes that were clearly not agricultural – a parking lot, a reception area, trails, a petting farm, an access road. Protecting the agricultural land was important, lest its use set a precedent for future trailer parks on land so zoned (and we saw here the potential for trailer parks all along the Nipissing Ridge). Going into the hearing, this objective seemed to have been achieved. All uses had been removed from Lot 24 except for the access road.
• The County’s initial concerns had focused on traffic management on County Road 29 (expansion of the road to provide a turning lane, clearing of sight triangles) and on getting the access road a sufficient distance down Concession Road 3W from County Road 29 that vehicles would not back up and interfere with traffic. But once the Federation’s position had been presented at the Pre-hearing stage, the County also expressed concerns about the misuse of prime agricultural land. Going into the hearing the County had reached a settlement with Dr. Stubbs about traffic management and about getting all uses except the access road off the agricultural land.
MRS. PATRICIA GOODFELLOW MAKES AN IMPORTANT POINT: The hearing, which might have been pro forma, took an unexpected turn when Mrs. Patricia Goodfellow, who lives across County Road 29 from the proposed trailer park, spoke as a participant.
She made a number of points that interested the Chair and will probably have an effect on what Dr. Stubbs can and cannot do. Much the most important appeared to be her declaration that “The Provincial Policy Statement makes it clear that soil capability will trump all other considerations in order to preserve prime agricultural land for future generations”. She pointed to a study done in 1999 by agronomist Dale Toombs in preparation for the Township’s Official Plan. His report declared the soils above the Ridge (presumably Lot 25 where the trailer park is to go), as being class 1, 2, and 3; thus, Lot 25 would appear to be prime agricultural land.
Considerable discussion followed, but before making a ruling, the Chair wanted to hear from Toombs himself about his reasons for recommending what zoning should be placed on Lots 24 and 25. Since Mr. Toombs was in Europe, the hearing was adjourned, probably until late August or September. Prior to that time, Toombs will prepare a report which will be sent to all those involved in the hearing, and the various opposing parties.
CONCLUSION: Important though FoTTSA’s and the County’s interventions were in emphasizing that the zoning on prime agricultural land must be respected, and important though public input by many groups was at the first public meeting in making Dr. Stubbs reduce the number of camping sites, no one had achieved what Patricia Goodfellow may still manage – that is, getting this proposed high density development stopped.
We have been told that pursuing the soils issue effectively will require expert assistance – probably a second agronomist’s opinion plus some legal background work. Once Dale Toombs’ report has been received, Mrs. Goodfellow, and FoTTSA too, will have to decide what to do next.
Whatever is decided, it is amazing that at this late stage, eight years after the trailer park was first proposed, there is still a possibility that it may be stopped!