Prehearing Conference Scheduled on Minaki Lodge Appeals

The prehearing conference with the Ontario Municipal Board regarding the proposed redevelopment of Minaki Lodge is scheduled for September 22, at 10:00 am at the Community Centre.
This conference is the first official step on the way to the actual OMB hearing, likely in early summer, 2017.  That hearing will decide year-round residents’ and the MCA’s appeals of the initial provincial approval of Banman and Schinkel’s plans for 138 seasonal condominium units on the site and for the use of the old Lodge sewage treatment plant.
A member of the Municipal Board will lead the conference.  The conference’s purpose is to confirm parties and other participants, to start to identify issues and witnesses, and to estimate hearing length and potential timing.  The MCA’s and year-round residents’ joint legal counsel from Toronto will attend. The conference is open to the public.
Posted in MCA

Flowering Rush

MCA board member Lyle Norrie has been leading some information-gathering on flowering rush — the non-native aquatic reed that is increasingly taking over places on the Winnipeg River in Minaki.  The result is a 4-page report, available by clicking the link below.  Here’s a summary:  there is so far no good way to deal with this plant.  Efforts at control will require a lot of work.  The MCA will stay on this topic, providing information and seeking feedback from people as they try to manage it.

Posted in MCA

2016 Community Cocktail Party and Fundraiser

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.

Like last year, the MCA is organizing the event, and proceeds will benefit Minaki — liquor profits will go to the Minaki Community Association and the Community Centre, and net ticket sales will be split between the MCA and the Minaki Foundation.  Everyone is invited.  Tickets are still $25. We encourage you to buy your tickets in advance online by clicking here.  You will receive an email confirming your purchase.
(No part of the ticket cost is tax deductible.)
Pleae come, have a great time, and support Minaki!
Posted in MCA

MCA Appeals

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.

Posted in MCA

MMAH Decides

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.

Posted in MCA

Logging Plan Update

MNR is continuing to oversee the planning process for the second five years of the current 10-year Kenora Forest logging cycle.  Cutting in those years, beginning in 2017, will include areas north of Pistol Lake and along the entrance to Roughrock.  (A map showing those areas and proposed setbacks from the water is available under the “Forestry” button.)
MNR’s process remains in the information gathering phase, with public information centres scheduled for March 24 in Kenora and March 30 in Sioux Narrows.  Those dates and places aren’t aimed at most cottage owners, but the MCA on behalf of its membership has submitted a set of concerns to MNR and the contract logger through Wayne Bruce of Pistol Lake, who sits on the forestry planning board.  The concerns focused on the preservation of all tree lines visible from the water, and on limits on the days and times on and at which logging activity could occur.  MNR staff will meet with MCA representatives as a follow up to that submission.
MNR expects to release a revised logging plan, reflecting the public input, in mid-June.  An opportunity for public comment will follow that release as well.  Please contact the MCA if you have any questions or comments about the proposed logging.
Posted in MCA

New Round of Logging Plans

New logging plans involving cutting in the Minaki area are now appearing, as part of the commercial logging cycle.  Here’s some background and an update.
Logging on public land is a recurring land use in our part of Ontario.  MNR oversees the cutting, in joint management with MIISUN, a logging contractor owned by a number of First Nations.  Logging occurs pursuant to a series of 10-year plans, with two 5-year subplans in each.  The second 5-year bloc in the current cycle is approaching, providing for cutting starting in 2017.
Two areas of future logging directly affect Minaki — one along the north side of Pistol Narrows and Billings Bay and one around the entrance to Roughrock.  A map is available under the Forestry button, with cutting areas in orange and preliminary setbacks in red.  This logging is not clear-cutting, as 20% of a variety of species and ages must be retained, but with roads and noise the cutting is still a significant event.
The MCA in past cycles has worked within the logging plan review and approval process to set standards for where and how the logging is carried out, including setbacks from the river and the timing of the work.  It’s important to note that in the Minaki area, MNR’s land use plan specifically puts outdoor recreation and tourism ahead of logging.
MCA member Wayne Bruce of Pistol Lake, a board member of the Lake of the Woods District Property Owners Association and a member of MNR’s citizens’ advisory committee on logging and of the Kenora forest planning team, is in a position to provide direct input on the plan and is helping the MCA in this cycle.
Wayne’s perspective is that MNR and MIISUN can be responsive to local concerns, as long as the public input is timely.  Now through the end of the year is the time.  We will post another report on this logging plan, with more details on the MCA’s response and participation in the process, in mid-November.  In the meantime, please contact the MCA with questions and concerns.
Posted in MCA

Comments Flow in to Environmental Registry

The revised applications for 138 residential condominium units on the Minaki Lodge site by Bob Banman and Bob Schinkel have come in to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, still without follow-up from the Ministry of additional information regarding what besides unit count has changed.
In the meantime, though, MMAH is required to post the applications on the Province’s Environmental Registry, and solicit public comment on environmental impacts.  That posting occurred in mid-September.  The 30-day comment period just ended, with MMAH hearing directly from many MCA members and year-round residents of Minaki about the unacceptable and avoidable environmental impacts of the over-sized redevelopment proposal.
The MCA filed its own comment, as an organization, providing the technical and engineering backdrop for the environmental concerns, based in large part on the work of its two independent sewage treatment engineering firms.  Comments on the Environmental Registry are not available for viewing, but the MCA’s comment is available under the “Minaki Lodge” button.
This Environmental Registry process is entirely separate from the ongoing review by MMAH of the redevelopment proposal under the Ontario Planning Act.  That review, which started in 2012, continues with currently no fixed deadline.  But the Environmental Registry did provide an opportunity for the strong scientific backdrop of the MCA’s comment to combine with the deep and personal perspectives of the year-round and seasonal residents, telling MMAH again that the redevelopment is too big and too risky for Minaki and the Winnipeg River.
Posted in MCA

Boat Rally for MMAH

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.

Posted in MCA

2015 Minaki Community Cocktail Party

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.

Posted in MCA