Despite reports to the contrary, the Johnston Point Plan of Condominium does not have final approval.
Public misperception surrounding Johnston Point is understandable given the high volume of truck activity, the ongoing construction, blasting, tree cutting, and shoreline vegetation clearing that exists alongside the confusing messages from media and our local and provincial experts and authorities.
On April 4, 2016 concerned lake residents requested that the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) dismiss Magenta Waterfront Development Corporation's (Magenta) Johnston Point appeal. Residents strongly felt that the appeal was aimed at avoiding due process in evaluating the risks that this development posed to the habitat and the species-at-risk that are known to live on Johnston Point. In June 2016 the OMB granted conditional approval of the development with a three-year settlement agreement. The OMB acknowledged the public concern for species-at-risk and stated that Conditions of Draft Plan would “ensure that matters of Provincial interest as well as the public interest is appropriately addressed and duly safeguarded … that the necessary approvals and/or permissions are appropriately obtained.”
The settlement agreement was set to expire on June 28, 2019 without the developer meeting these environmental conditions. Since Frontenac County (FC) is the final approval authority for development within South Frontenac Township (SFT), a motion was put forward for SFT Council to recommend that FC approve a one-year extension of the agreement.
On June 4, 2019 while requesting that Township Council recommend to County approval of an extension to the development agreement, Gavin Marshall, Principal of Magenta, told Council that Magenta was new to the project, had a new project manager in place, and was in a legal dispute with the former project manager which meant that they were unable to sign back the Condominium Agreement and/or provide a copy of the Overall Benefit Permit which had been issued in October 2018.
The Condominium Agreement, once signed back, would have allowed the Township to legally access the property and monitor ongoing activities. The Overall Benefit Permit allows for the killing, harming and harassing of species-at-risk on Johnston Point, and/or allowing for their habitat to be damaged or destroyed. In January 2019, after prompting from the Battersea Loughborough Lake Association (BLLA), the County filed a Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy (FIPPA) request in order to obtain a copy of the permit. At the time of this writing, the County has not received that copy.
Township Councillors strongly challenged the statement that Magenta was new to the project citing evidence that Magenta had been involved from the very beginning. They asked the developer and his project manager about the illegally installed walking bridge on Unit 6, why it has taken over a year to sign back the Condominium Agreement, the lack of cooperation between the developer and the Township, and they questioned Magenta on its poor performance standards to date and the repeated public reports of unauthorized site work over which planning, implementation and enforcement issues remain outstanding. In response, Gavin Marshall agreed and said, “Environmental standards could not be more elevated. It is unfortunate and regrettable and deplorable that the project, and those standards, have not been respected here before.”
Township Council voted 6-2 to firmly defeat the motion. Mayor Vandewal voted in support of the motion even though in February he had “assured Council that he would not support any extension to the Johnston Point agreement at the County”.
Township Council’s decision was not well received by Frontenac County’s Warden Higgins and he wrote an “abnormal request”to the Councillors claiming that there was “no logical explanation” and asking that the “No” votes explain themselves. In return, he promised to include these explanations in the agenda for the upcoming vote. Two Township councillors, Ross Sutherland and Doug Morey, wrote to the County, but neither letter was included in the agenda package.
Whereas a County almost always defers to a Township for site-specific decisions, on June 19, 2019 Frontenac County Council ignored the recommendation of the Township Council and voted 7-1 to approve the extension. The County’s decision was made without hearing the comments from the Township councillors in response to the June 4, 2019 delegations and despite Mayor Vandewal’s statement that those comments would be forwarded to the County. There was also no consideration of the written submissions from Township Councillors in response to Warden Higgins’ email asking for their rationale and accusing them of “failing to approve an extension.”
The South Frontenac Township Mayor receives two votes on County Council and Mayor Vandewal voted against his Township Council’s decision, casting his two votes to fully endorse the extension at the County meeting. Councillor Alan Revill, the other South Frontenac Township representative, was the only “No” vote cast, and he clearly articulated solid grounds for an extension denial and specifically commented that the public's concern for species-at-risk on Johnston Point had not been addressed. He stated that species-at-risk on Johnston Point have not been protected despite promises and assurances from experts and authorities and reflected that many of the earth’s species are at serious risk due to stress on their habitat as a direct result of development and other human activity.
Contrary to reassurances of the June 2016 OMB Ruling, when it comes to the Johnston Point development, “the necessary approvals and/or permissions” have not been “appropriately obtained”, and more troublesome is “that matters of Provincial interest as well as the public interest” have not been “appropriately addressed and duly safeguarded”. It is clear the OMB ruling mandate is now impossible to achieve.
For years the BLLA and concerned residents have steadfastly spent hours researching, writing letters, attending meetings, commissioning expert reports, obtaining legal opinions, and presenting delegations at Township and County in order to advocate for protection of species-at-risk on Johnston Point and raise awareness over the complete lack of enforcement or monitoring of this development. These efforts have repeatedly exposed a flawed developer-driven system which has ignored the attempts by the public, and now the Township, to right the many wrongs that have plagued this development.
We find this unacceptable and insist that our lake deserves better.
We welcome your suggestions or feedback.