Some residents of a small town in Ontario’s cottage country are speaking out against a proposed development that would turn farmland into a golf course and housing.
The Kawartha Bay project in Cameron, Ontario, located approximately 150 kilometers northeast of Toronto in the town of Kawartha Lakes, is being proposed by Markham-based Flato Developments. It would feature an 18-hole golf course interspersed with 339 seasonal homes, 84 rentals, a clubhouse, a restaurant and a renovated marina.
Flato is asking Kawartha City Council to rezone 156 hectares of land he owns (most of which is currently dedicated to agricultural or rural uses) as “commercial tourism” to allow the resort to operate. The development would feature privately owned drinking water and wastewater treatment facilities.
“Flato hopes to expand tourism and support this idyllic community, while preserving the area’s natural beauty and heritage,” the developer’s website reads.
“The introduction of a recreation center will provide sustained economic growth, improve community infrastructure and offer diversified tourism with four-season appeal.”
But Margaret Carroll, a 66-year-old retiree who grew up in the same house she now lives in with her husband in Cameron, disagrees with that view.
“Personally, I think it will basically destroy our lives,” Carrol said. “The life we have now will completely disappear.”
They fear that the project will harm the community
Carroll said life in the town is “very quiet, pleasant and serene.” He said he’s concerned the complex will increase pedestrian and vehicle traffic along the two-lane road that runs past his home along Sturgeon Lake and that an increase in short-term rentals could disrupt the peace.
of the community.
According to a conceptual design of the proposed development, the golf course’s 16th hole would be right behind the Carrolls’ backyard. Carroll said he is concerned that runoff from pesticides, herbicides or other chemicals that could be used on the golf course could contaminate the water in his well or the lake, both of which are downhill from the proposed golf course location. .
“This complex really has no advantage for us,” he said.
At a town of Kawartha Lakes planning committee meeting on Sept. 13, planning consultant Matthew Cory of Malone Givens Parsons appeared on Flato’s behalf and said the “world-class” golf course will be designed by Doug Carrick , whom he called a “preeminent” Golf Course Designer in Ontario.
Cory said at least 25 percent of the land would be designated as environmentally protected.
“The reason we have only filed a zoning amendment at this time was to codify and analyze the principle of development and, more importantly, to establish the areas that can be developed and those that cannot. And those that cannot are those that need to be protected for the protection of natural heritage,” Cory said at the meeting.
Most residents who spoke at that meeting opposed the development, raising concerns about the loss of farmland, possible damage to delicate ecosystems and that the complex will serve wealthy, rather than local, clients.
Sylvia Keesmaat, a University of Toronto professor and permaculture farmer who has lived in Cameron for 19 years, is one of those who spoke against the proposed development at the meeting.
“This land includes a drumlin and an alvar, both of which are unusual landforms in Ontario and provide perfect habitat for a number of at-risk species,” Keesmaat told CBC Toronto.
Keesmaat is a member of a grassroots group called Say No To Flato, which has started a petition opposing the rezoning request that she says has garnered nearly 300 local signatures.
“These types of golf courses have huge green fees. They are not affordable green fees for most people who live in the area,” Keesmaat said.
“It will also increase land prices in the area… people who grow up here, children who grow up here can’t afford to live here.”
Kawartha Lakes County. Mike Perry, whose ward includes the village of Cameron, said he heard the community’s concerns loud and clear, and that he will work to address them through the development application process.
“We will face a huge wave of growth here in the coming years and we need to grow responsibly, which means evaluating applications on a case-by-case basis,” he said.
“Right now, I’m working with my constituents here on the ground to address all of those concerns and get as much information about this as possible at this stage.”
The company has “overwhelming” support, says its lawyer
While Keesmaat said environmental concerns are among the most important to her, she also expressed concern about the developer’s role in the Greenbelt controversy.
Flato Developments founder and president Shakir Rehmatullah was behind three successful applications to withdraw land from the Green Belt last fall, according to the province’s integrity commissioner’s report into the Green Belt controversy, before the Prime Minister Doug Ford will announce a revocation. Rehmatullah is friends with Ford and Kaleed Rasheed, the Progressive Conservative MPP who resigned this week after news reports raised questions about their time together on a trip to Las Vegas.
In a statement to CBC Toronto provided through its lawyer, Michael Fenrick, Flato Developments said the company has received “overwhelming” support for its work in Cameron.
The statement says the company has worked with “industry-leading” environmental consultants who have conducted a series of studies and is working to satisfy all municipal requirements to ensure the development provides a “net benefit” to the community.
“There will always be people who resist growth and change in their communities. The path to community building requires time and care and is work that Flato takes seriously,” the statement said.
A motion presented Tuesday to Kawartha Lakes council would direct Flato’s zoning change request back to staff for further study and to address public concerns.