A large crowd came through some sleety Kenora weather to watch as the prehearing conference at the Clarion Hotel on November 29 initiated the Minaki Lodge redevelopment appeal process. Here are the highlights.
— the hearing is set to start on July 17 in Kenora. Space on the Ontario Municipal Board calendar is reserved for up to three weeks
— David Bronskill, the Toronto lawyer who represents both the group of year-round residents and the MCA in the combined appeal, submitted an issues list for the hearing. Neither the lawyer for Minaki on the River nor the lawyer for the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing had any objection. That issues list is an important factor in the hearing process; the MCA and year-round residents’ representatives spent a significant amount of time working on it with our shared planning consultant in Toronto. The list as submitted takes the longstanding concerns with the redevelopment proposal and translates them into hard issues under the Provincial Policy Statement, the primary (and pretty much only) planning guide in unorganized territory. A copy is available under the “Minaki Lodge” tab.
— representatives of the Ochiichagwe’babigo’ining Independent Nation at the Dalles and of the Lake of the Woods District Property Owners Association asked for participant status to state concerns about the redevelopment proposal and both were approved. Seasonal resident Bruce Mahaffy also requested and received participant status. The OMB member confirmed that the Wabaseemoong Independent Nation at White Dog will still have an opportunity to join as a participant as well.
— Rick Handlon, a lawyer at the Pitblado law firm in Winnipeg who has already done an extraordinary amount of work on this project, was recognized as co-counsel with David Bronskill for year-round residents and the MCA. (Given that position as counsel, Rick has resigned from the MCA board.) Rick will continue to donate all his time.
The conference ran only for an hour. The parties will next adopt a procedural order that will confirm the hearing date, the parties, and the participants, and will set a schedule for the development of the case between now and July.
One final note. The tone and conduct of the conference were quite formal. The lawyers and the OMB member are all from Toronto, know each other from past cases, and dealt with each other with respect and deference. After the long, haphazard, and anti-disclosure handling of the file by a rotating cast of characters at MMAH, we took comfort from the seriousness, competence, and independence that will characterize the appeal process with the OMB.
The prehearing conference with the Ontario Municipal Board on the proposed redevelopment of the Minaki Lodge site, originally scheduled for September 22 and then suddenly cancelled, has been rescheduled for 10:00 am on November 29 in Kenora. The location is the Clarion (former Lakeside Best Western) hotel.
The Toronto attorney for the MCA and for year-round residents who also have appealed the Province’s preliminary approval tells us that the first try at holding the conference failed for a flaw in OMB’s meeting notices. Those notices apperently fell short in required specification of the location of the event (at that time, the Minaki Community Hall), a shortfall recognized by OMB at virtually the last minute.
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.
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.
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!
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.