New Manitoulin Official Plan still in limbo as planning board waits for more answers

MANITOULIN—The Manitoulin Planning Board (MPB) is continuing to work with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing (MMAH) to develop the new Official Plan (OP) with some progress made at August’s board meeting.

The MPB has had ongoing issues with several areas in the draft OP including lot development accessed by private roads/rights-of-ways, deer yards and Lake Manitou being declared as ‘at capacity’ for development.

At last month’s meeting, the MPB heard back from the MMAH on some of its concerns, such as further detail regarding the deer yard policies. A document received by the MMAH outlined the proposed deer yard policies for the board.

“They (MNR) have sent us proposed deer yard policies and a preamble, which indicates how many lots can be created in a deer yard area,” said MPB secretary Elva Carter.

“In areas identified as core deer yard or adjacent lands, shown on the land use schedules to this Official Plan, and outside of the identified urban areas and village areas, new development or site alteration may be permitted without an Environmental Impact Study (EIS) provided the proposed new lots have a minimum 90 foot frontage and 90 metre depth, and vegetation retention is maximized through the use of tools such as a development agreement or a subdivision agreement, miscellaneous notification agreement (and subject to the other policies of this plan). Where development is proposed in shoreline areas, coniferous fringe habitat along the shoreline (providing deer browse) and shelter habitat) shall be conserved,” the proposal states.

“For the creation of new lots within or adjacent to deer habitat, the planning board will require an applicant to complete the Manitoulin Area Deer Habitat Assessment Tool (MADHAT) as a means to determine the extent of conifer habitat to be conserved and other mitigation measures. The planning board may require a full Environmental Impact Study for lot creation where it is deemed necessary,” the MMAH proposal notes.

The MADHAT must be completed by the applicant in coordination with planning board staff and will be provided to the planning board as part of the complete application package. When requested, an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) must be completed by a qualified professional, the cost of which will normally be borne by the applicant. The planning board may require a peer review of an EIA.

It is also explained that an EIA will be required for the creation of more than three new lots as a means to determine the extent of conifer habitat to be retained and other mitigation measures. The EIA may be required for a planning application, other than new lot creation, for a change in land use to a commercial, industrial, or institutional use where the proposed building coverage and clearing may result in negative impacts to the natural features and their ecological functions. And it may be required when a planning application is made for large-scale recreational use.

After reviewing the proposed policies, the board felt that additional points needed to be considered such as: 100 acre lots should not count within the creation of more than three new lots, development on maintained roads should not require an Environmental Impact Statement and that it should be acknowledged that the deer herd are a detriment to agricultural crops.

“There was a general consensus that there are deer all over Manitoulin and that there needs to be a balance between the protection of the deer and restricting development that is important to the economy also,” the MPB meeting minutes state. “The secretary-treasurer will discuss these policies further with Ms. (Bridget) Schulte-Hostedde (MCIP, RPP manager, community planning and development, MMAH) and attempt to have more complete policies prepared for the board.”

“I’m going to go back to her and try to refine the policy,” said Ms. Carter. “She said that they are reviewing the extensive private road data that they had received from us at the end of June and are considering different policy options, and I would like to talk to her about this and the issue of deer yards.”

Ms. Carter told The Expositor on Monday that she had not met with Ms. Schulte-Hostedde yet, but that she expects to hear from the MMAH regarding a meeting in the near future.

As for Lake Manitou concerns, “the board hasn’t discussed it recently and we haven’t heard anything new or different from the MMAH.”