Last Minute Proposals Weaken Johnson Point Development Environmental Protections

Site Plans presented to South Frontenac Council for a 15-lot development on Johnson’ Point will weaken environmental protections ordered by the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) as a condition of approval for this estate-lot condominium.

The Johnson’s Point proposal on Loughborough Lake has been the focus of many community concerns about its negative effect on the surrounding provincially significant wetland and the already crowded lake.  After years of public debate, in 2016 the OMB approved the development, subject to conditions that offer some protection for the surrounding environment.

One of the conditions, 13(ii), states that as well as a septic system, each lot will have “A location for the alternative septic disposal system…”  identified on a site plan before applying for building permits. In the site plans presented to Council, two of the lots did not have an alternative septic system location.

The rationale for a second location is that if the first fails there is a safe way to treat sewage with minimal environmental damage. This requirement is even more important for a development in an environmentally sensitive area.

Leaving the alternate septic site off the site plans raises two concerns:

  1. The Township and citizens’ groups spent many months and significant resources on lawyers and consultants to negotiate plans at the Ontario Municipal Board that permitted the lots in exchange for specific environmental protections.Site plans that violate one of these conditions may be illegal. Regardless they certainly undercut public trust in the process.Approving the lots without a secondary site will say that even limited protections can be simply overturned in favour of the developer’s profit while the environmental and the community needs are ignored.
  2. This omission increases the risk to the environment.It may be small increase, but wetlands are not only one of the most important of our natural features for preserving water quality and species diversity; they are also one of the fastest disappearing. We need to be increasing protection of wetlands not incrementally increasing the threats.

This chipping away at gains made by the community has contributed to a lack of faith in the Township’s ability both to control development and to make developers live within the rules.

Until site plans meeting the conditions of approval can be developed neither the Master Site Plan nor the site plans for lots 2 and 14 should be approved.

The Ontario Municipal Board Conditions of Approval were clear, and the result of much work by many residents, lawyers, Councilor’s, and professionals. There is a significant obligation to respect this decision and improve our local environment.

Consideration of the site plans will be coming to South Frontenac Council on December 21.  If there are concerns about approving site plans that are at odds with the OMB Conditions of Approval now is the time to raise them with your representatives and your neighbours.

About Ross Sutherland

nurse, researcher, public health care activist, councillor South Frontenac Township
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