Caledon orthodontist frustrated at NEC’s ‘bureaucracy run wild’

March 3, 2016   ·   0 Comments

By Tom Claridge

Since late 2009, Caledon orthodontist Cliff Singer has been the proud owner of a worked-out gravel pit with a man-made lake that’s a perfect site for water-skiing, his daughter’s favourite sport.

But his dream of some day having the family home on the 200-acre site north of Mono Mills and using the lake for occasional competitions has run afoul of the Niagara Escarpment Commission (NEC), the Town of Mono and some nearby residents who see the competitions as somehow posing a threat to the area’s peace and tranquility.

He says the NEC won’t approve the proposed location of the family home, effectively nixed his plan to use the site for water-skiing during the 2015 Pan Am games and now would allow only a temporary permit for the competitions, requiring him to re-apply in three years. And on hearing some residents’ objections, Mono Council is cross-appealing the NEC decision, with most of the councillors seemingly never having visited the site.

Now planning to appear before Mono Council next Tuesday with his wife Judy, Mr. Singer has sent Mono Mayor Laura Ryan a 3,400-word letter plus attachments outlining his case and seeking guidance as to procedures to be followed during the meeting.

Never at a loss for words, Mr. Singer told the mayor that during the meeting “I wish to focus exclusively on alleviating environmental and municipal concerns” regarding his proposal to hold up to four competitions annually that would involve merely “a temporary gathering of approximately 20 people.”

Before getting into details, he asked Mayor Ryan, “let us not lose site of the fact that my application is for the right to host a limited number of not-for-profit waterski competitions in an extensively mined 200-acre gravel pit which is surrounded by berms,” and posed: “Is my requested recreational use not far preferable to the previous heavy industrial use, and also the best possible case scenario for future uses?”

During an hour-long interview Monday at the Orangeville Citizen also attended by Mrs. Singer, he produced maps and aerial views of the property, some of the latter showing beautiful farmlands that predated the gravel extraction. The map shows the lake at the western edge of the pit, near the Sixth Line EHS but out of sight because of the large berm. Airport Road, which provides the only access to the lake, bisected the gravel pit when it was built by the Province through some of Dufferin’s hilliest countryside as a development road.

Mr. Singer, who portrays himself as neutral in the battle over the aggregate industry’s failure to rehabilitate former gravel pits, says that since buying the property for about $40,000 an acre he has planted 45,000 trees and still hopes one day to build a home overlooking the lake. Although the orthodontist’s offices are in Caledon Village and Caledon East, the Singers and their daughter Chantal live in Toronto.

Asserting that both the NEC and Mono have been setting “double standards,” he asked Mayor Ryan why it was that the council was against having water-skiing when Mono “rightly boasts of its hosting of the Pan-Am cross-country equestrian events which involved thousands of spectators and participants?”

Responding to Mono planner Mark Early’s concerns about the potential impact on ground water, he asked: “How does the operation of an ultra low emission, four-star-rated, California Air Resources Board certified, inboard water ski boat with a triple catalytic converter, oxygen sensor, sequential multi-port fuel injection and four-stroke car engine (which meets the most stringent standards in North America), pose a greater environmental risk to ground water, than the much dirtier gas- and diesel-powered machines, tractors and cars routinely used by the adjacent appellants?  Let’s not forget about the 5970 vehicles and trucks (per average day) which pass by on Airport Road.”

As for planner Early’s request for an acoustics study, Mr. Singer said a waterski boat generates 75 decibels at 25 metres when in use.  “The range of noise from the ever-present traffic to which my neighbours are exposed on Airport Rd. is 70 to 110 decibels.  The actual sound from my boat is further attenuated by the interposing berms, greater distances to neighbours than 25 metres and differences in elevation levels.  The neighbours/appellants are free to use trucks, snowmobiles, tractors, lawn mowers, leaf blowers, chainsaws, ATV’s, motocross bikes, all of which generate louder sound than my modern ski boat.”

During the interview, he described himself as “just a guy who stands on principle,” the NEC as “bureaucracy gone wild” and his dealings with it as “a regulatory nightmare.”

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