By Chad Ingram
The impact of a subdivision planned for the east and south shores of Bark Lake in Highlands East on the waterbody itself would be negligible a consultant for the project told Haliburton County councillors last week.
John Ariens of IBI group made a presentation to county council March 23 as part of a public meeting on the proposed development.
The owner of the 400-acre property Hamilton-based private school Columbia International College is seeking to construct a subdivision that would include 83 single-family lots as well as a number of commonly owned elements.
The applicant is seeking approval of the draft plan from council.
As Ariens explained the plan before council is different than one first proposed a decade ago in 2006. That proposal was for 110 single-family lots. However nesting habitat of turtles and other animals on the property means that areas included in the original proposal cannot be developed.
“However the plan does remain viable” Ariens said explaining the new proposal is for 83 lots.
A number of species at risk on the property including the Blanding’s turtle and eastern hognose snake meant the applicant had to seek a number of provincial approvals.
The plan now includes infrastructure such as snake fencing and turtle crossings to protect wildlife.
“That has all been included in an environmental assessment application” Ariens said adding that application has been submitted to the province for approval.
A number of studies including an environmental impact study functional servicing report planning justification report a sight distance report and an archeological assessment have been completed and “all these studies have given us the green light to continue” Ariens told council.
A number of common buildings including a community centre and sewage treatment plant exist from a leadership centre facility at the location that was for years owned by the province.
The development would incorporate those common elements which would be maintained through a condominium corporation that property owners would pay into.
Waterfront lots would not have individual docks. Rather the development will have a central docking area and according to Ariens a set number of powerboats.
“Residents will not be able to have powerboats themselves” he said.
Irondale resident and former Snowdon township reeve George Simmons told council he supported the development to a degree but said any impact study should take into consideration the northwest shore of the lake. Currently owned by the Crown Simmons said it’s possible the land could be included in the recent Algonquin Land Claim decision where 117500 acres of Crown land will be transferred to First Nations ownership. Specific details have not yet been released.
“That land is still in dispute” Simmons said. “Haliburton County Crown land may go to the Algonquins.”
His second concern was access to the subdivision via what Simmons called a private road.
“Nobody was aware the MNR has given access to that road” he said.
Ariens responded to Simmons’s concerns stressing the individual lots would not have septic systems and the sewage treatment plant which must be upgraded exits into Bark Creek and not directly into the lake.
“The impact on the lake is negligible” he said.
As for the road Ariens said it is a right of way over Crown land and not owned by the college.
The county’s planner received written submissions from a number of organizations including Canada Post which announced it would not install a community box in the development. That means residents of the proposed subdivision would have to register with the post office to get a mailbox.
Council will make a decision on the draft plan at a later date.