Statement from Mayor Margaret Quirk in response to Province’s Maple Lake Estates decision
On June 16, 2021, a landmark decision was announced by the province of Ontario to add 360 hectares of privately owned lands – known as Maple Lake Estates – to the stewardship of the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority. The decision means these significant wetlands will be protected from development.
Mayor Margaret Quirk’s statement
Aug. 19, 2020 - Notice of motion
Council endorsed a resolution regarding Maple Lake Estates. Now therefore be it resolved that the Council of the Town of Georgina:
a. Requests that the Board of Directors of the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority (LSRCA) confirm that it has accepted the surrendering of the Section 28 permit for the Maple Lake Estate Lands.
b. Reaffirms its position of March 22, 2018 that the Town of Georgina will continue to consider all of the options at its disposal which may include taking legal action including but not limited to the challenging of the validity of any Section 28 permit that has been issued, or may be issued by the LSRCA.
c. Directs its relevant staff to update the “Maple Lake Estates dedicated webpage” to reflect all of the above findings of fact and further referenced decisions of the LPAT, the stop work order on the Maple Lake Estates property referenced herein, its intention to conduct a zoning review and any other relevant information including all relevant decisions of Council.
Jan. 15, 2020 - Public Statement - Local Planning Appeal Tribunal Decision - Maple Lake Estates
Jan. 15, 2020 -to Council by Harold Lenters, Director of Development Services regarding the LPAT decision on Maple Lake Estates Inc. land
Jan. 9, 2020 -to Mayor and Members of Council re: LPAT decision
Dec. 19, 2019 -
Nov. 26, 2018 - Closed Special Council Meeting Regarding Maple Lake Estates Lands
Resolution passed by Council and response from Maple Lake Estates Solicitor - Read the Council Highlights
Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2018 - Town staff noted activity on the Maple Lake Estates site on the afternoon of Nov. 8. The Town has issued a stop work order and instructed our Solicitor to review and contact the property owner’s Solicitor regarding this matter. The Town has also been in contact with the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority regarding the Section 28 permit issued to the property owner and the current activities.
Maple Lake Estates -from Town Council - July 10, 2018
Re: Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (formerly the Ontario Municipal Board) commencing on May 28, 2018
Maple Lake Estates Update - April 11, 2018
Resolution passed by Council - Read the Council Highlights
Maple Lake Estates Update - March 23, 2018
LSRCA Board Makes Decision to issue Section 28 Permit for Maple Lake Estates – Read the Media Release.
Maple Lake Estates Update - March 22, 2018
Georgina Council does not support the LSRCA report regarding Maple Lake Estates Development. Read the Media Release.
Maple Lake Estates – Background Information
Maple Lake Estates is an approved 1073 unit recreational residential retirement community that is proposed to be constructed on approximately 500 acres of land located north of Deer Park Road. Like any matter that comes before Council, the public is encouraged to collect the facts and we have dedicated this page to help you do that by assembling all of the background information, history timeline, and associated reports to ease your navigation.
There are planning approvals for Maple Lake Estates dating back over three decades. On October 19, 1984 Town Council approved the Maple Leaf Estates development proposal (now called Maple Lake Estates or MLE) by adopting Official Plan Amendment No. 10 to the Georgina Official Plan. Council’s decision to adopt OPA 10 was subsequently appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB). In 1987, the OMB issued its decision approving the Maple Lake Estates proposal with certain modifications and this approval was reaffirmed by the Provincial Cabinet in January 1988, through an Order-in-Council. As a result of the OMB decision, the Maple Lake Estates lands were designated “Urban Residential Area” in the Town's Official Plan, accompanied by site specific development and phasing policies. The property was also zoned to permit the development in 1987 and a subdivision plan was registered in 1992. See the full history of the Maple Lake Estates planning approvals as set out in Report PB-2013-0032.
A key fact in the current Maple Lake Estates debate is that Council and Town staff want to see the Maple Lake Estates lands protected. However, the Town’s Official Plan must conform with Provincial and Regional Plans which currently recognize the long standing development rights on the lands as originally granted by the Ontario Municipal Board, and re-affirmed by the Provincial Cabinet. See Report No. DS-2016-0029 which provides a detailed planning analysis of the existing Maple Lake Estates approvals in relation to the Town’s New Official Plan (OPA 129).
How can the Maple Lakes Estates Lands be protected?
While Council and Town staff want to protect the woodland and wetlands on the Maple Lake Estates lands, the Town is bound by the existing planning approvals which are recognized in the Provincial Greenbelt Plan.
Council and Town staff would prefer to see the existing development rights assigned to the Maple Lake Estate Lands removed and as an alternative for consideration, be given development of nearby lands that are not environmentally sensitive. As such, Council has requested that the province amend the Greenbelt Plan by removing the “Towns and Villages” designation from the Maple Lake Estates lands, and designating other lands owned by Maple Lake Estates landowners located south of Deer Park Road that do not contain significant environmental features as “Towns and Villages,” in order to facilitate a Maple Lake Estates development rights transfer that would result in the Maple Lake Estates lands not being developed. However, unless the province agrees to amend the Greenbelt Plan, the development rights transfer cannot occur. Review Reports No. PB-2013-0062 and No. PB-2015-0026 which provide more details surrounding the Town’s request to the Province.
What about the Region and Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority? What are their positions?
Council for the Regional Municipality of York and the Board of the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority (LSRCA) are in full support of the Town’s proposed transfer of the Maple Lake Estates development rights to the Deer Park Road lands.
The Regional Municipality of York in a letter to the Honourable Bill Mauro, Municipal Affairs dated November 15, 2016, re-iterated its support of the Town’s request, stating that “this transfer would result in the protection of environmentally sensitive lands on the current Maple Lake Estates parcel with a net gain of environmentally protected land, as the total developable land area would be reduced. “
In a response letter from the Honourable Bill Mauro, Minister of Municipal Affairs, to York Region, the Minister has advised that “no changes to the Greenbelt Plan designations related to the Maple Lake Estates are proposed.”
By letter dated February 12, 2015, the LSRCA requested clarification from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) with respect to the applicability of a Ministry letter from October 18, 2004 in relation to the permit process under the Conservation Authorities Act. The response from MNRF is provided in a letter dated March 11, 2015. The LSRCA sent a letter to Premier Wynne reiterating its support for the transfer of development rights and requesting that the Province reconsider its decision to not amend the Greenbelt Plan. The Premier’s Office responded by a letter indicating that a copy of the correspondence had been sent to the Minister of Municipal Affairs for a response.
So with the Minister of Municipal Affairs refusing to make any changes, what does that mean?
By refusing the development rights transfer proposal and maintaining the “Towns and Villages” designation on the Maple Lake Estates lands in the Greenbelt, the Province has rejected the only practical means available at this time to ensure the permanent protection of the woodlands and wetlands through the transfer of the Maple Lakes Estates lands into public ownership.
Georgina Council has adopted a Resolution requesting that the Province take a leadership role by becoming directly involved in finding a way to protect the Maple Lake Estates lands from the approved development. A formal request has been made to the Minister of Municipal Affairs to meet with Georgina Council and Town Officials to fully understand their refusal of the Maple Lake Estate development rights transfer proposal and to discuss what other opportunities there may be that will ensure the protection of the Maple Lake Estate lands.
On May 5, 2017 the LSRCA sent another letter to the Premier and to the Minister of Municipal Affairs, urging the Province to approve the proposed MLE development rights transfer proposal as part of the Greenbelt Plan review. In their letters, the LSRCA states:
“The benefits of the transfer of development rights are clear, the natural heritage features on the site are protected in perpetuity, and the Greenbelt would see a net increase in size of approximately 325 acres. This is a solution which will benefit all parties and most importantly the environment”
An Ontario Municipal Board pre-hearing conference in relation to two site-specific appeals against Official Plan Amendment 129, being the Towns new Official Plan, has been scheduled for May 10, 2017. One of the appeals is requesting that the OMB amend the Town’s Official Plan by removing the existing “Urban Residential Area” designation and associated policies in relation to the Maple Lakes lands, notwithstanding that the MLE lands are still designated “Towns and Villages” in the Greenbelt Plan and York Region Official Plan. Council has directed that the Town’s Solicitor, and Planning Consultant who prepared OPA 129, attend the pre-hearing conference, not to be in support of the approved MLE development, but rather to provide the Board with the legislative requirements and policy basis by which Council was legally required to recognize the historic development rights approved for the MLE lands in its adoption OPA 129.
The History of Maple Lake Estates
- In the early 1980’s, a private landowner submitted Official Plan Amendment (OPA) application seeking approval for an amendment to the Town’s Official Plan in order to permit the proposed Maple Leaf Estates development (now called Maple Lake Estates or MLE) and was subsequently processed by the Town.
- On October 19, 1984, Town Council approved the OPA application for the proposed MLE development by passing By-law Number 84-148 (PL-2) which adopted OPA 10. Council’s decision was appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) and an OMB hearing was held to consider the appeal.
- On March 3, 1987 the OMB issued its decision approving OPA 10 with certain modifications, and this approval was reaffirmed by the Provincial Cabinet on January 28, 1988 through an Order-in-Council.
- As a result of the OMB decision, the MLE lands were designated “Urban Residential Area” in the Town’s Official Plan, accompanied by site specific development and phasing policies.
- Draft Plan of Subdivision Approval was issued on June 30, 1988 by York Region for subdivision application file No.19T-87055. Conditions of draft plan approval were fulfilled, and the subdivision was cleared for registration.
- Registration of the 2 lot subdivision plan and subdivision agreement occurred on August 18, 1992 (Plan 65M-2903, and Agreement No. LT-857638).
- On October 8, 1987 Town Council adopted Zoning By-law No. 911-87-431 which permits a Recreational Residential Park further defined as: “A parcel of land under single ownership which has been divided into dwelling sites to be used for the erection of single family dwellings and other purposes permitted herein, all as parts of a self-contained recreational residential retirement community”.
- In 1996 an Agreement between Town and original MLE landowner was executed which rescinded the servicing allocation for the approved 1,073 unit development.
- A Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) letter of May 18, 2004 to the current MLE landowner indicates wetland evaluation has been completed on the MLE lands in relation to the Paradise Beach – Island Grove Wetland Complex and deemed Provincially Significant.
- Subsequent MNR letter of October 18, 2004 to current MLE landowner and copied to Town and the LSRCA states the following: “the MNR recognizes that the existing Registered Plan of Subdivision predates the Ministry’s recent wetland work and recognizes the legal status of the Plan to be implemented as proposed, without due regard to the wetland complex.” The following is also stated in 2004 MNR letter: “This Ministry would also take this opportunity to highlight Section 126.96.36.199 of the Town’s Official Plan. This section indicates that any official plan amendment to revise the provisions specific to the Maple Leaf Estate community would be required to consider the significant natural features identified through Town studies. For such a situation, the Ministry would request the Town of Georgina to also include consideration of the provincially significant Paradise Beach – Island Grove Wetland Complex, by extension.”
- By letter dated February 12, 2015, the LSRCA requested clarification from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) with respect to the applicability of the Ministry's letter from October 18, 2004 in relation to the permit process under the Conservation Authorities Act. The response from MNRF is provided in a letter dated March 11, 2015 which states: "My October 18, 2004 letter to Metrus Developments Inc. on this matter predates the expanded powers of the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority to regulate any activities within wetlands, regardless of classification. This expanded power was enacted through the establishment of Ontario Regulation 179/06 pursuant to the Conservation Authorities Act. Therefore, I consider my letter of October 18, 2004 to now be superseded by the Conservation Authority's implementation of Ontario Regulation 179/06 related to the lands in question, as the Conservation Authority sees fit."
- The LSRCA sent a letter dated March 23, 2017 to Premier Wynne reiterating its support for the transfer of development rights and requesting that the Province reconsider its decision to not amend the Greenbelt Plan. The Premier’s Office responded by a letter dated April 3, 2017 indicating that a copy of the correspondence had been sent to the Minister of Municipal Affairs for a response.
- The MLE lands are designated as “Towns and Villages” in the 2005 Provincial Greenbelt Plan, the 2006 Provincial Growth Plan and in the 2016 consolidated York Region Official Plan, as amended.
- In an email dated June 12, 2017, Mike Walters, Chief Administrative Officer of the LSRCA, indicated that his July 13, 2015 open letter to The Town of Georgina Council, which outlines the permitting process and the provincial legislation that prohibits third party participation in relation to Section 28 permits under the Conservation Authorities Act, would be useful to include on the Town's MLE page. Mr. Walters also stated that "attached to the July 2015 letter is the Undertaking agreed to by the DG Group, an Undertaking that the DG Group extended a number of times up to December 31, 2016 in hopes of a transfer of development rights to another parcel of land owned by the DG Group being approved by the Province. With the Ministry of Municipal Affairs decision in January 2017 to deny the transfer of development rights, the DG Group has subsequently activated its application on the original site."
Reports/Correspondence Pertaining to Maple Lake Estates