GRAVENHURST - A group of almost 30 residents along Lakeshore Drive have voted unanimously to form a new property owners’ association and hope to use their official status as leverage against an approved site plan and development along their road.
They have also filed a Freedom of Information request to the municipality to access past unreleased reports about a Lakeshore Landing Development Inc. project that is meant to improve and rehabilitate a cottage resort property on Lakeshore Drive.
Town council approved a first-phase site plan in early September that will allow the developer to improve the dock slips, shore front, public boat launch and associated parking at the resort, but the neighbouring residents are opposed to the scale of the project which they fear will bring heavy boat and vehicle traffic down their narrow road.
“We don’t intend to stop fighting this and we think as an official organization with a combined voice it’ll be easier to access information,” said one of the citizen organizers and development neighbours Valerie Johnston.
A little more than a week ago the group met at a residence along Lakeshore Drive and held their vote to incorporate.
“We’ve still got some technical stuff to work out and a few papers to file, but at this point it looks like we’ll be known as the Lakeshore Drive Community Association,” she said. “We’re doing everything we can to expedite the process but if all goes as planned, we should be official by the end of the month (October).”
In the meantime, Johnston said the group has also made an official filing of a Freedom of Information request to the municipality to get their hands on previous reports and studies of the development.
“In light of everything we’ve been through in fighting this we felt there may be some information in the town’s hands that might be important to us,” Johnston said. “We don’t know what we’ve got yet but we really want to see what’s in those reports.”
The development had been turned down for a re-zoning earlier in 2012 with a scaled down first phase site plan subsequently approved in chambers Sept. 4. The plan had already garnered support from Transport Canada, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the Ministry of Natural Resources and district of Muskoka.
Johnston explained neighbouring residents are in favour of the resort being redeveloped, however, their concerns are that plans to improve the historic 14 boat slips could lead to as many as 40 to 50 slips and thus what they call a dangerous increase in traffic into the bay there.
“We are not at all opposed to re-development of this site at all; it’s the scope, it’s the potential for an incredible amount of boat and road traffic,” Johnston said.
Johnston said as the plan has been approved, there might not be a lot of recourse to halt or alter the scope of work planned, but she added they will try.