BURK’S FALLS – Armour council has a decision to make concerning a superior court case lodged against Pickerel Lake Recovery Centre.
Council recently accepted zoning and Official Plan amendments from the centre on Pickerel Lake as complete, however the issue is also before the court because they would not cease operations after being requested by council to do so in light of violations to their zoning bylaw.
“(The application) process is now going to go through so there will be public meetings sometime in the near future,” said MacPhail.
Planner Bob Miller will attend an upcoming council meeting to discuss the application, however the issue will be conducted in closed session.
The matter landed in court after an order by the Township to cease operations at the centre was issued because a treatment centre was in contravention with the zoning of the land, which is designated as waterfront community recreational commercial.
According to MacPhail the case, which was most recently in court in December, was delayed.
A letter, dated Nov. 16, 2011, stated that the use of the facility as a treatment centre did not legally comply with the Armour Township Zoning Bylaw or Official Plan and were asked to cease operations.
The centre continued operating and a first court date slated for the spring of 2012.
“The Superior Court action is strictly to enforce our position that we feel that he cannot operate because he is not zoned, or doesn’t meet the Official Plan,” said MacPhail. “We’re trying to tell him to stop until the application has gone through.”
However, the matter is still in the courts and the zoning and Official Plan is before council.
“Now what do we do?” he questioned. “Do we push ahead with the Superior Court, which was to shut him down before the other process was completed. But the other process now is going to be completed.”
MacPhail says the owner of Pickerel Lake Recovery Centre is hoping council will agree to rezone the property to be used as a wellness centre.
“Generally speaking it is not zoned and it’s really not part of our Official Plan, what we would see using the lake for,” he said. “He’s asking us now to meet what he’s using it for.”
MacPhail says the Official Plan is part of the equation but it is the rezoning that is the big issue. If council does have to rezoned than the Official Plan will need to be altered.
“If one changes the other will change but if nothing changes he won’t be able to operate,” he said. “Chances are it is going to go to the OMB after our decision.”
If council says no to the rezoning the owner may then take the issue to an Ontario Municipal Board for a decision. However, if council does approve the rezoning MacPhail says the cottage associations may take the issue to the OMB.
“What we’re discussing as a council is to go down the Superior Court route now and spend money on it or do we just wait and see what happens, what decisions council makes and the repercussions of our decision,” he said.
MacPhail says in a perfect world the Superior Court would have been resolved and the centre would have been shut down.
“The process we’re going through now would have gone anyway but without him operating,” he said. “Then council would make a decision and OMB if necessary. At that point, if he won he could start operating again, or if Pickerel Lake lost they would continue to be shut down.”
MacPhail says because the court case has taken so long both issues are before them at the same time.
“Council has to figure out what we have to do with the two things we have in the air right now,” he said. “The application has to be dealt with now and with the Superior Court, what is the most cost effective and most logical thing to do with that over the next few months.”