Frank Matys

Oro-Medonte is being urged to reject a development proposed for the Carthew Bay area amid environmental concerns.
Creating seven large residential lots along Lakeshore Road East between lines 13 and 14 would prove damaging to the watershed, says longtime cottager Jane McCulloch.   
“While this apparently small subdivision may seem to be a drop in the lake, it is exactly this kind of growth that is, cumulatively, greatly contributing to the demise of Lake Simcoe,” she told Orillia Today this week.
The developer, Stonehedge Holdings Inc., is seeking to rezone the lands from their current agricultural/rural designation to rural residential.
A public meeting held Monday evening provided residents an opportunity to learn more about the proposal and give input.
Any concerns regarding the project will be taken into consideration by the township’s planning advisory committee prior to a recommendation coming forward to council, Mayor Harry Hughes added.
The Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority is also involved in the review process, according to township staff.
Hughes said residents he has spoken with want to ensure a canopy of trees that envelope an area road remains intact, should the development win approval.
“It is very scenic,” he added. “It is the kind of thing that people will go out of their way to see.”
McCulloch, whose family has cottaged in the area since the 1930s, said the proposal flies in the face of provincial legislation that seeks to protect and improve the quality of the Lake Simcoe watershed.
“We drank that water,” she said. “It used to be full of minnows and frogs and fish and shorebirds. That is all gone.”
Establishing seven “estate-style” homes on an area that is presently forested will result in increased water runoff and further degradation of the lake, McCulloch added.
Forests, wetlands and other natural features absorb and filter rainwater, and protect the watershed from harmful runoff, she said.
“It is exactly this type of development that is unsustainable,” she added. “It is exactly the kind of thing we don’t need.”
While she had yet to view the proposal, Campaign Lake Simcoe project coordinator Claire Malcolmson said, “estate lots are very resource heavy.
“They consume a lot of land,” she added. “We should be moving toward smart-growth planning and higher density, and better uses of natural resources.”
McCulloch said her father donated to the Couchiching Conservancy 22 acres of land on the north side of Lakeshore Road – opposite the proposed development.