Wenona Lake application deferred again

By Angelica Ingram

March 14 2017

A zoning application was deferred once again when the municipality of Dysart sent it to the County of Haliburton for a peer review.

On March 6 the Dysart planning committee held a public meeting to approve a zoning amendment for the lands of Sunderji on Wenona Lake.

The file has been deferred multiple times due to some concern over the potential of endangered plants namely American ginseng and a beaver dam on the property.

The applicant is applying to rezone the property from rural type 1 and environmental protection to a waterfront residential zone and environmental protection.

The rezoning application follows a decision made in July 2016 by the Haliburton County land division committee where the applicant was granted approval to sever the land into four parcels.

Dysart municipal planning director Patricia Martin updated the committee on the file saying the municipality has received comments from Michael Michalski the environmental consultant hired by the applicant.

The municipality has also received an environmental impact assessment from wildlife biologist Paul Heaven of Glenside Ecological Services. Heaven was hired by Keith and Susan Hay who live on Wenona Lake.

Michalski who was in attendance at the meeting noted that no fieldwork was done by Heaven when putting together the environmental impact assessment.

Heaven later confirmed this was true but said he worked with the information Michalski provided in his report.

He said Michalski’s report suggests the property is desirable for American ginseng an endangered species.

“So do we just dismiss it at this point?” asked Heaven. “We should know before any decisions are made what we’re dealing with.”

Michalski said if there is ginseng on the property there are mechanisms within the Ministry of Natural Resources for dealing with it.

“The world doesn’t come to an end” he said. “There is a process for dealing with it; it’s just not game over.”

Michalski told the committee the property in question was an un-evaluated wetland and therefore not provincially significant.

Miskwabi Area Community Association president Andy Mosher and vice-president Peter Dilworth reiterated their concerns about the shallow bay on the property which they believe is a wetland and the impact boating traffic will have and the issue of a beaver dam.

Other residents also expressed concerns over the beaver dam saying it is a mechanism for regulating the water levels in the lake.

Susan Hay said locating a dock next to the beaver dam “defies logic.”

Michalski said the dock was in the location for a specific reason to avoid areas where there was more dense aquatic habitats.

“We thought this was a more prudent approach” he said. “I didn’t give any consideration to the fact the beaver dam was there. So what? We’re 10 15 metres away from the beaver dam.”

Greg Bishop who is the agent acting on behalf of the applicant said he was not opposed to asking the applicant to remove the dock planned to go next to the beaver dam.

“Whether or not that dam goes there’s still going to be water in that lake” said Bishop.

Dysart Deputy-reeve Andrea Roberts who chairs the planning committee said wildlife can’t be relied on.

Martin said the file was going to be sent to the county for a peer review provided by their biologist.

“We’re not going to pick a biologist. It’s not a popularity contest” said Martin. “So we will have a third biologist who doesn’t have a vested interest … so that will be the advice that is helpful to us.”

The committee voted unanimously to defer the file until the county’s peer review was complete.

The application will come back at the next public meeting scheduled for April 3.