For years, Lake Simcoe residents from Big Bay Point and Environmental Defence have been fighting a proposed mega-marina resort development in their community. Now, the focus is on a controversial sale or lease of public shoreline land, to a developer with a history of suing its opposition.
Putting public (or Crown) land in private hands is a process that should be open to broad public comment. But Ministry of Natural Resources staff tell us that only those with lands abutting these Crown lands are eligible to lease or buy the lands from the Crown. Only people within 100 shoreline meters of the public land in question were given an opportunity to comment. The limited opportunity for public input led us to create a video and a petition to gather opposition to the land sale.
The developer, Kimvar, a subsidiary of Geranium, plans to build a 1000 slip marina on Lake Simcoe which is already suffering from water and noise pollution. It has conditional approval to build 2,000 units—mostly limited occupancy, and a 400-unit hotel—in what is now a small, heritage cottage community at the north end of Innisfil, Ontario.
To build the marina entrance’s breakwaters and to fortify almost 200 meters of the entrance with rock and concrete, the developer needs to acquire two pieces of publicly owned land adjacent to the marina entrance. But opponents don’t think this developer deserves the public’s land, especially after it has launched multiple, expensive lawsuits (SLAPP) against local residents who object.
Environmental Defence and the Innisfil District Association want to stop the land sale, and allow local residents a fair opportunity to comment on it. If the province is entertaining the sale of public land, it should be a public sale, they argue, not a sole-source agreement.
This is particularly important in light of the chilling effect SLAPPs had on public participation. Many people were unwilling to come forward to oppose this development. Now that the province is dealing with the distribution of public lands, it’s an ideal time for the public to have a say.
Learn more about how the Big Bay Point development is bad for the lake.