The capacity crowd caused some of you to be prevented from getting into the meeting room because of fire regulations, and others have told me they went home because they couldn’t find a parking space. That is unfortunate to say the least.
At the meeting staff made a lengthy and detailed presentation. There was little time for questions, and so many of you were not heard.
Please don’t let these frustrations cause you to abandon your efforts to stay involved. The hundreds of emails received by Council are making an impact.
I would like to make some comments about the staff presentation:
- Development of Saw-whet is not a done deal even though staff showed plans for streets and houses. An Official Plan Amendment and rezoning are required before anything is finalized.
- Purchasing land for protection was suggested as an option, but it is not the only option, in my opinion. The current zoning of Saw-whet is Private Open Space which does not permit residential or commercial development. The developer wants council to change the zoning. Council can refuse. In my opinion we are fortunate that our Official Plan has already set out a land use planning framework to direct and manage growth to 2031 based on population and employment forecasts. “Zone – don’t own!” worked when we created our Natural Heritage System for north of Dundas.
- Planning staff’s current “preferred plan” shows development of about 20% of the Merton lands, which is basically most of Saw-whet – about 100 acres. That 20% number is under the assumption that Deerfield Golf Course will not be developed. But it is difficult to predict the future of Deerfield as it is owned by Infrastructure Ontario (which is the Province) and studies are being done there as well. So the percentage of land development in Merton could increase dramatically in the future. Fourteen Mile Creek is protected but could be seriously affected by the development around it (drainage, erosion, loss of habitat, trails). At the moment the area under the most development pressure is Saw-whet.
- The technical studies of the Saw-whet area were done by the potential developer and are being peer reviewed. The first peer review report highlights gaps, inconsistencies and concerns in the developer’s studies.
- If council votes to refuse the development application for Saw-whet, the town may be taken to the Ontario Municipal Board by the developer. If that happens I believe we would have a strong defense since we have already met our growth obligations to 2031 based on our Provincially approved Official Plan “Livable Oakville”
- The meeting ended with a moving photo essay showcasing the beauty of the Merton lands and the creatures that live there. This was created by Lisa Kirton. You can watch the presentation on my website.
- And finally, by an amazing coincidence, on the day of the meeting a Saw-whet owl was spotted sitting in a tree outside an office building in the Burloak-QEW area. I was sent a photo, and have posted it on my website www.elgar.ca Take a look.
Please share my emails freely. So many people have stated that they did not know about the Merton issue. I will keep you posted as this issue unfolds. Background information can be found at www.elgar.ca
Watch for the latest edition of “Let’s Talk Oakville” coming to your mailbox soon. In it you will find more about the Merton Lands.
The Merton Lands from markkirtonteam on Vimeo.
See you at the April 14 meeting.
Thank you once again for taking a stand to preserve the beautiful Merton Lands!
14 Mile Creek, April 14 2014, Deerfield Golf Course, Development, Green Space, Let's Talk Oakville, Liveable Oakville, Merton Lands, OMB, Ontario Municipal Board, Re-Zone, Saw Whet Golf Course