We are very happy to tell you that the Moody Bay Development Application to build 30 townhouses on Gull Lake was rejected by the Gravenhurst Council last night.
Over 100 people filled the Gravenhurst Council Chambers for the Planning Council meeting – there are usually less than 10 and normally they are people asking for slight amendments or variances.
The Planning Staff had recommended to defer the application to a later date. The rationale for deferral was pretty weak – “to allow sufficient opportunity to hear and consider public comments, and to review the supporting documentation”. We successfully argued that an overwhelming number of comments opposing the application had been received by the Town, the Council Chamber was filled with people opposing the application, and the developer had held a well-attended public meeting, so the public had spoken loudly regarding the application. We also pointed out to the Council that the Planning Department has had the application for seven weeks and in order for the application to become an agenda item, the Planning Staff is required to conduct a thorough review and deem it “complete”. An application is deemed complete after the Planning Department reviews the information in the file and is satisfied that all the information they require to write a report is contained within the application. So the point was made, what additional supporting documentation did the Planning Staff need to review.
After some discussion among the Council members and some Council questions to the developer and staff, a vote was taken on the motion to defer. It was defeated 4 votes to 2 votes. Mayor Donaldson, Councillor Randy Jorgensen voted to defer and Councillor Lorenz, Eiter, Kelly and Pilger voted against deferral.
After the motion to defer was defeated, Council was forced to vote on the application with the only options being approve or reject. The vote to reject the application was 6 votes to reject, 0 votes to approve.
What we learned last night:
- If the lake associations in Muskoka continue to work together, we can have considerable influence on important decisions by Town Council.
- If we give the Councillors a clear path and a strong political reason to do so, they will reject the advice of staff and act in the public interest.
- Numbers matter in politics. The number of residents at the Council Meeting and the number of written comments (over 40) filed with the Town was a wakeup call to the Council – we will not accept high density development on our lakes. We reached out to 15 other lake associations and many of them filed objections to the application, and came to the meeting, and it made a big difference.
A BIG SHOUT OUT TO JIM DAVIS – JIM PUT IN MANY MANY HOURS ON THIS INITIATIVE. HE SPOKE TO EVERYONE HE COULD, WITH PASSION AND CONVICTION. HE WAS WELL PREPARED FOR THE MEETING AND BUOYED UP BY ALL THE WELL WISHING AND ENCOURAGEMENT THAT CAME FROM OUR MEMBERS, THE MLA, THE FRIENDS OF MUSKOKA AND MANY OTHER LAKE ASSOCIATIONS, HE CARRIED THE DAY.
Another shout out to Frank Beynon, Dave Stephens and Paul and Leslie Gibson who hand delivered flyers. Many of the recipients came to the Meeting last night and we have a number of new members. Bravo helpers!
It’s a good day for those of us that believe that Muskoka is worth preserving and fighting for.
Hope everyone can make it to the All Candidates Meeting Tomorrow night – 6:00pm at the Terry Fox Auditorium
See you on the dock!