November 12, 2023
To Chair Lehman and Councillors, District of Muskoka Council
My name is Tom Newman, and I am sending this letter on behalf of my client, Ross Earl, a longtime resident of the Township of Muskoka Lakes (4232 Aspdin Road, Utterson, P0B1M0).
Mr. Earl is very concerned about proposed changes to the wording of a policy in Section K4 (Mineral Aggregates) of the draft Official Plan for the Township of Muskoka Lakes. The policy changes, proposed by District of Muskoka Staff, would remove the prohibition on the establishment of new aggregate operations within 2 km of the Waterfront Area. The current TML Official Plan includes a policy (Section E, Rural 14.2) stating that, “New rock crushing operations shall be limited to areas farther than two kilometres from the Waterfront designation.”, and this policy has been in effect for many years.
Mr. Earl owns Waterfront property on Lambert’s Lake, a small, pristine lake, close to his home, and since 2017 he has been fighting to stop the Lippa quarry application that would establish a new quarry less than 700 metres from the Lambert’s Lake, Waterfront Area. In a 2019 LPAT hearing, Mr. Earl used the existing 2-km policy as a key piece of evidence in his efforts to block the Lippa application. However, if the 2-km policy is modified, as proposed by District Staff, then it would be very difficult, if not impossible, for someone like Ross Earl to protect his waterfront property in this way. Mr. Earl is a retired school teacher, with a limited income, and he does not have the financial resources to hire the lawyers and consultants, who would be needed to contest an application, without this current policy.
At the TML Planning Committee Meeting on September 14, Mayor Kelley and the TML Councillors voted to reject modifications to the 2-km policy, as proposed by District Staff. Despite this fact, District of Muskoka Planning Staff continue to insist that the 2-km policy must be changed because it doesn’t comply with the the Provincial Policy Statement, citing policies in Section 2.5 (Mineral Aggregates), such as the following, “As much of the mineral aggregate resources as is realistically possible shall be made available as close to markets as possible.” However, these same Planners have chosen to ignore other policies in the PPS that support the inclusion of the 2-km policy in the new OP. For example, in Section 1.7 (Long Term Economic Prosperity), there is a policy stating that, “Longterm economic prosperity should be supported by … providing opportunities for sustainable tourism development.” In the Township of Muskoka Lakes, it could be argued that preventing aggregate operations within 2 km of Waterfront Areas is consistent with ‘providing opportunities for sustainable tourism development.’ Tourists don’t come to the Township of Muskoka Lakes to see the quarries and to hear the gravel trucks, rather, they come to experience the beautiful lakes and their watersheds.
Ross Earl and his wife, Sylvia, love living in the Township of Muskoka Lakes, and they are determined to do their part to protect Lambert’s Lake and the other Muskoka Lakes for future generations. Please support them by voting against proposed changes to Section K4 in the draft TML Official Plan that would weaken the existing policy that prohibits new aggregate operations within 2 km of Waterfront Areas.
Tom Newman (agent for Ross Earl)