Good news! The annual Minaki community cocktail party and fundraiser is on for 2016, at the Community Centre on Sunday, July 24, from 4:00 to 8:00 pm. Even better news is that Denise and Jean Louis are again catering the food.
On April 5, the Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing approved preliminary plans for the proposed redevelopment of the Minaki Lodge site. The approval imposes a set of conditions on the redevelopers that must be met before the project can proceed, with a deadline for compliance of April, 2019. After reviewing the conditions, the MCA and a large group of year-round residents have filed separate appeals of the MMAH action. The appeal documents are available under the “Minaki Lodge” button.
Besides the issue of the sheer excessive size of the proposed project on the Lodge site in Minaki, the appeals assert that, based on the analysis of two engineering firms, the sewage plant is too small to handle the waste from the project, that under Ministry of the Environment procedures the plant is not allowed to operate for a communal use in unorganized territory without government back-up, and that the plant cannot meet Federal Fisheries Act requirements for emission of chlorine. They add that the associated boat and dock activity in the Lodge channel will be unsafe, and that the project layout will impair the cultural historical landscape of the Stanley Thompson-designed golf course.
The appeals also warn of the dangerous precedent set for the region by approving the Minaki on the River concepts without any pre-existing standards for when condominium and condominium conversions in unorganized territory would be allowed.
The appeals take the proposed redevelopment plans to the Ontario Municipal Board, for a hearing on the project and the issues raised by the local interests. OMB decisions are final. No hearing date has yet been set.
The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing on April 6 issued notice of its decision on the proposed redevelopment of Minaki Lodge, approving fully the redevelopers’ plan for 138 residential condominium units with no meaningful conditions.
This result, in the face of strong local concerns from year round residents, Chief John Paishk of the Wabaseemoong First Nation, and the MCA, is disappointing, but somehow not unexpected, and not the end of the process. The MMAH review has always been subject to appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board for a hearing and final resolution, and such an appeal has always seemed likely regardless of whether a decision favored the redevelopers or the local concerns.
With that in mind, the MCA from the start has participated in the MMAH review process assuming that an appeal would occur, establishing facts, finding and hiring experts, commissioning reports, and preparing to make and defend its positions on all of the negative impacts The MCA will now investigate and evaluate an appeal. The appeal deadline is April 26.
The MCA joined year-round residents of the town of Minaki for a boat rally in the Lodge channel on the Saturday of Labour Day weekend, putting over eighty boats into the narrow channel and sending a message to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing.
One of the major negative impacts of the excessive density in the proposed redevelopment of the Minaki Lodge site is the congestion and danger to public safety from the excessive number of boats that will come with the project. With 139 condominium units proposed (down recently from 161 – more on that in a subsequent post), there will be 139 boats piled into the narrow and already-challenging Lodge channel.
The redevelopers have consistently ignored this critical impact in their applications to MMAH, and despite warnings from the MCA, from year-round town residents, and from the Wabaseemoong First Nation, no one has ever had any indication that MMAH recognizes the issue.
The year-round residents suggested that it was time to turn all the words sent to MMAH about boating impacts into a picture with a boat rally in the channel, and the MCA membership joined them in force. Even with the boats just drifting, for safety’s sake (an OPP boat was on hand as well), the demonstration showed how quickly the channel passage is overwhelmed and how dangerous the excessive density of the redevelopment proposal would be.
The 2015 Minaki Community Cocktail Party, sponsored this year by the Minaki Cottagers Association, was a wonderful success. People came early and stayed late, all the while enjoying the offerings of Denise and Jean Louis Catering which, as has been the case every year, were the best yet.
We count well over 200 attendees, and although the chance for the whole community to get together in the tradition started by the Minaki Foundation is the most important thing, we did raise a nice amount of money for the Foundation, for the Minaki Community Foundation, and for our association. Generous people made additional donations to the Foundation and to us.
The volunteer response from our members was overwhelming — thank you all. Thanks also to the Minaki Foundation board volunteers, who were a great help in getting us going. How the event is handled next year is up to them, but we do know that all who volunteered would be glad to pitch in again.
The MCA had an opportunity in Minaki in August to take Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing staff members through the MCA’s set of concerns about the impacts of the proposed Lodge redevelopment. The discussion of sewage treatment concerns was especially intricate, reflecting additional issues and system shortcomings that we had learned about since our first submission in April, 2013, based on additional records and correspondence finally provided to us by MMAH beginning in March of this year.
In October, Accutech Engineering, one of the MCA’s independent sewage treatment experts, issued a report that described and analyzed all the additional sewage treatment topics. The MCA has sent the report to MMAH and to the Ministry of the Environment, under a cover letter that summarizes the report’s findings and reasserts the longstanding concerns that we have already been pressing. The cover letter to MMAH is available under the “Minaki Lodge” button, under the heading “Supplemental Submission to Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing Regarding Sewage Treatment,” and we hope that you find time to read it. The full Accutech report is available under that heading as well. Rick Handlon and Lyle Norrie continue to lead the MCA’s effort to keep after this evolving topic.