NEC conditionally approves Mono waterskiing project

February 4, 2016   ·   0 Comments

While some Mono residents and members of town council have expressed their disinterest in allowing Cliff and Judy Singer, owners of property on Concession 7 EHS to develop their land for waterskiing events, the Town recently received notice that the Niagara Escarpment Commission (NEC) has conditionally approved the proposal.

The notice, which was also distributed to residents surrounding the property, was met with the same response it had been initially –  a unanimous call for this to be disallowed.

At last week’s Mono Council meeting, several residents who had received the notice spoke to council, raising their concerns with the issue. All speakers, while amendable to the couple creating the space for personal use, felt allowing public events would create a negative effect on the area due to noise, garbage and emission pollution.

“Since [Mr. Singer] bought this property from Lafarge, a big company that owns most of the gravel pits around Dufferin, he has been trying to develop this property into what amounts to a commercial entity/business,” explained Delfino Bernardi, one of the residents who spoke at the meeting. “He first applied for a waterski school back in 2011. Next, he attempted to get the site approved for the Pan Am Games. Now, he is applying for a permanent waterski event venue.”

The NEC decision is not a full approval to move forward. The Development Permit, which was applied for, was only conditionally approved, requiring the Singers to meet a specific list of conditions.

The proposed development, as outlined by the notice sent to residents from the NEC is:

• o permit the use of a pond on the 82 hectare (204-acre) property (a former pit) for up to four seasonal waterskiing non-profit competitions per year, using one boat (with one back-up or emergency boat).

• o use an existing driveway from Airport Road to provide access for proposed spectator parking (two parking lots each with 98 spaces and 187 spaces along the former haul road).

• o provide the following proposed facilities for the use of competitors and visitors during events: one portable toilet, one camping trailer, one storage container, one floating dock, concrete deck and overhead canopy, one event tent and one boat lift.

• o provide a hydro service from 6th Line EHS (Airport Rd.).

• o erect a pole for a proposed security camera.

• o post an entrance sign and event identification signage facing Airport Road at the existing entrance during waterskiing events.

While concerns regarding the use of this property have been voiced with each application and intent by the property owners, because of the way the NEC functions, neighbours were not provided notice of the application or a chance to speak to their concerns before the application was approved.

“None of the neighbours to this property were aware of this development,” said Mr. Bernardi. “There was only a very small sign, almost non-visible, posted on the fence of his property. Our objection, and thus far the objection of every single property owner/person living in this area, is that this is not in keeping with the intent and use of properties under the NEC protection designated area. The very basic objections we have is that this activity is contrary to everything we appreciate in moving and living in a country/rural property.”

According to the NEC, those residents interested in filing an appeal to the decision would have 14 days to advise of their intents. However, several of the residents did not receive the notice (dated January 14) until  January 20. All appeals, as stated in the notice, had to be received by January 27 at midnight. The residents spoke to Council on the 26th, hoping to receive their support in the filing of the appeal.

While some of the conditions required could result in the events being overturned by Council, the County and the Orangeville Fire Department, having the approval could make it harder for any entity to deny the permits based on the NEC approval. Some of the conditions include that the property is limited to four events a year, the owners must obtain a special events permit from the Town of Mono, and the events can only be held between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. (a full list of conditions can be found on pages 3 and 5 of the online document at 1TC0V6c). The events would also be subject to the Town of Mono noise bylaw, and other local bylaws affecting signage, etc.

One resident who spoke to council explained that if this was meant to be a smaller, private event, it wouldn’t be such an issue, but neighbours felt the proposals suggested a different direction.

“It seems to me this is leading to a commercial event down the road, and that intent is very hard to accept,” he said. “There will be huge pockets of exhaust fumes from these events. What is this going to do to Mono and the surrounding area?”

The resident explained that they already have to walk their property regularly to collect garbage, food and beer bottles strewn along the property line.

“I don’t need to have people on the other side of the road too, who could also be polluting, adding more garbage,” said the resident. “You’re going to have one area filled with excessive partying, pollution, chemicals and who knows what.”

Mr. Delfino added that the proposed activity could eventually affect the area’s drinking water as well, as the pond, created by the gravel extraction, sits on top of an aquifer that has supplied clean and safe drinking water to all wells in the area.

“Because of that connection between the surface water (open pond) and the underlying aquifer, anything that is polluted will eventually find its way to the aquifer,” said Mr. Delfino. “This area (and aquifer) is the birthplace of the famous Oakridge Moraine land track that carries subsurface water to millions of people in the GTA.”

Other issues that play into the locals’ concerns include the potential noise, traffic on Airport Road (which has been an ongoing concern), and the driveway from Airport Road.

“The noise these events will generate is in contradiction to the expectation of why we bought our house in the country, hoping for a weekend free of city noise,” explained Mr. Delfino. “To get a permit to open a new driveway on Airport Road is a nightmare for current property owners due to the reluctance of the Ministry of Transportation’s concern for safety and volume on a road with a long history of accidents. This new driveway would generate the equivalent of 183 driveways on the weekend.”

He said they are not seeking to limit what the Singers can do for their own recreational time, but that the kinds of events the couple are proposing through their application are not compatible with the types of lifestyles in the community.

“In the end we are fighting to maintain a good enough quality of drinking water for our families, and for some peace and a break to city living conditions,” said Mr. Delfino. “The fact that this was sprung on us on short notice, with five working days to file an appeal, further infuriated an already upset situation.”

Following the presentation by the residents, some members of Council voiced their willingness to help the residents.

“We hear your concerns, and I think they are very important,” said Councillor Ralph Manktelow. “We also hear that you would like us to support you. Mayor Ryan, I think we should consider supporting them in this appeal to the NEC.”

It was decided that the discussion would be revisited in the first February meeting of Council and in the interim Council would relay their own concerns to the Director of Planning, Mark Early, for assistance in drafting up an appropriate resolution.

By Tabitha Wells

Readers Comments (0)

Please note: Comment moderation is enabled and may delay your comment. There is no need to resubmit your comment.