After years of work through the land use approval process in Ontario, and after months of specific preparation, the MCA made its case on the severe negative impacts of the proposed redevelopment of the Minaki Lodge site before the Ontario Municipal Board in Kenora in mid-July. The group of 54 residents of the town who also appealed the preliminary approval of the development plan by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing joined with the MCA in presenting a consolidated case.
David Bronskill of the Goodmans law firm in Toronto and Rick Handlon of the Pitblado law firm in Winnipeg represented the MCA and the residents. Anthony Usher, a registered land use planner in Toronto, assisted the MCA and the residents in hearing preparation and appeared as an expert witness. The MCA and the residents also called expert witnesses on sewage treatment and cultural heritage landscape, along with nine lay witnesses speaking for permanent and seasonal residents.
Representatives of the Wabaseemoong Independent Nation and of the Ochiichagwe’babigo’ining Independent Nation appeared and presented their concerns about the excessive scope of the development and the proposed use of the old Minaki Lodge sewage treatment plant. The Lake of the Woods District Property Owners Association also appeared at the hearing to raise general issues related to sewage treatment and density in unorganized territory.
The MCA and the residents are pleased with the case that they put in. The effort and fundraising required to participate in a planning issue all the way through an OMB hearing are extraordinary, but the breadth of the concern for Minaki and the force of the negative impacts were powerful motivations and generated the support needed to allow the case to go in in full.
The hearing ran for two weeks, ending on Juy 28. We understand that a decision should be issued by the Municipal Board within six months of that date.