By Ian McInroy
Opponents of the proposed Big Bay Point resort say developers are utilizing a loophole in provincial rules to push the project forward.
Under the existing rules laid out by the province, opponents say the resort would be prohibited. They say because the developers, Kimvar and Geranium Corporation, are proposing to limit occupancy to unit owners to less than 300 days, the loophole allows proponents of the project to call the proposal a resort.
The Ontario Municipal Board is currently holding hearings regarding the proposed Big Bay Point resort.
“Calling a development a resort instead of a settlement and lamely trying to limit occupancy to 300 days a year should not get developers a free pass to develop the shoreline of Lake Simcoe,” said David Donnelly, counsel to environmental and residents’ groups opposed to the development. “The loophole that exempts these mega-resorts from the province’s planning rules is so large you could sail a yacht through it,” he added.
The developers’ lawyer, Jeffrey Davies, takes exception to that.
“It’s not a loophole. If they think it is they should present that to the OMB,” he said earlier this week.
“The occupancy restrictions are in use by other major resorts in Canada. It’s to ensure that no one lives there (full time). They are not allowed to stay 300 consecutive days,” he added.
According to opponents of the proposal, prior testimony from one of the developers’ expert witnesses stated it could be left to a residents’ committee to enforce the occupancy rules.
Al McNair, a professional planner speaking on behalf of the groups opposed to the resort, said the county has bent the provincial rules.
“In my opinion, the County of Simcoe has not planned wisely in selecting the special development area designation for this second home community. I believe the County of Simcoe used the special development area to avoid the issue of whether this community of 4,000 to 5,000 people is a settlement,” he said.
The county’s director of planning, Ian Bender, would not comment on McNair’s opinion.
“This is a major topic and it is in front of the OMB. I expect to be giving my evidence on the case next week,” he said.
Don Avery, of the Innisfil District Association, which has opposed the project since it was proposed, said the county and the Town of Innisfil have not communicated their intent to his group’s satisfaction.
“Failure to do these studies is grounds to send the proposal back to the province for a serious review of Simcoe County population forecasts or allocations,” he said.
Contact the writer at imcinroy@thebarrieexaminer.com