GRAVENHURST - Although there might not be much they can change now, a group of concerned citizens is looking to officially organize into an association and fight a recent decision by council to approve a marina redevelopment on Lakeshore Drive.
About 20 of the 30 neighbouring property owners of a cottage and marina commercial operation being redeveloped by Lakeshore Landing Inc. are preparing the paperwork and intend to incorporate late this month in order to determine if they have any recourse in altering council’s Sept. 4 site plan approval for work at the property.
“The primary concern we have is safety there,” explained neighbour Valerie Johnston, who is a longtime summer resident and grew up the child of permanent residents along the same stretch. “We simply cannot accept this decision; frankly, we’re not exactly sure what we can do at this point, the decision can’t be appealed to the OMB (Ontario Municipal Board), but we are going to keep working on this to find our recourse.”
“We’re now kind of back where we started from,” she added, saying since June 2011 the group has been compiling data and debating proposed development plans with council.
“As a group we’ve already spent a lot of money and a lot of our personal time on this and we are going to keep trying to find ways to fight this.”
The project, to improve and expand dock slips, a launch and associated parking at 1072 Lakeshore Drive attached to a historical summer cottage rental and slip system got council’s site plan approval as well as approval from Transport Canada, Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Ministry of Natural Resources and the District of Muskoka.
“We are not at all opposed to redevelopment of this site; it’s the scope, it’s the potential for an incredible amount of boat and road traffic,” Johnston said.
Residents are concerned the approved plan design to redo the docks there, which historically have housed up to 14 boats at a time, would allow for upwards of 40 to 50 at any one time.
In addition, anticipated increased vehicular traffic to the boat launch area for loading and unloading would create a danger there.
“It’s a very narrow road as it is and isn’t designed to handle the traffic it has now,” Johnston said.
The bay where the new docking system would be put in place is not wide either, she added.
Regardless of the developer’s plans, she said the group is concerned with the process through council chambers.
“This plan does not identify a lot of important things; it’s simply not detailed enough,” Johnston said. “We don’t feel we got adequate responses. We want to know what are the principles and the criteria (for site plan acceptance).”
“We haven’t gotten satisfactory answers and that makes us question the process,” she added. “As an organized group, we feel we’ll be in a stronger position to get those answers.”