The Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) has turned down a Vancouver-based developer’s bid to build a 58-unit condo complex on the shores of Stony Lake.
The complex would have been located along a six-kilometre stretch adjacent to Burleigh Falls.
Jen Lewis, the treasurer with the group, Friends of Fraser Wetlands, called the decision a victory.
“Everywhere we went this weekend, everyone was like, ‘Yeah!'” Lewis said, raising her arms over her head in a ‘V,’ symbol.
Friends of Fraser Wetlands has opposed the development since it first came to its attention three years ago. The group argued to the OMB that the development put two provincially significant wetlands and 450 animal species at risk, and jeopardized the overall health of Stony Lake.
“And we won outright on that score,” said lawyer David Donnelly, who represented Friends of Fraser Wetlands and Curve Lake First Nation during the multi-week OMB hearing.
“Our star witness on that point, Gord Miller, told me he thinks this is one of the first and best decisions where wetland complexes have been recognized, and now protected.”
“The decision is a new roadmap for land-use protection for Provincially Significant Wetlands and Blanding’s Turtle habitat,” Donnelly added.
“Given that the Township produced no environmental evidence and there is no Conservation Authority in the area, the decision vividly underscores the necessity and value of citizen group participation in protecting the planet.”
The FFW worked closely with Curve Lake First Nation to oppose the project.
“Our Elders asked us to save this wilderness and all the species in it, to respect the ancestors and the land they frequented many years ago,” said Curve Lake First Nation Chief Phyllis Williams.
“These historic reminders were told at Council and at the hearing, and evidence is still in abundance all along the north shore of Stoney Lake.”
The hearing took place in September 2016, and ran for about four weeks.
The developer, Burleigh Bay Corporation, was not available for comment on Tuesday.
In addition to the 58 units, the condo complex would have included a community centre, parking, docks and new roads through the area.
“We’re elated. This gives the Kawarthas a breathtaking opportunity to preserve an extraordinary natural setting that can’t be replaced,” stated FFW director Heather Brooks-Hill, a third-generation resident.