By Chris Pickup
A seasonal development proposed for the Lake Erie shoreline has raised so many waves it was uniformly swamped Tuesday by both staff and Haldimand council.
Dubbed “Waves” by proponent LJM developments Inc, the proposal raised hackles on numerous levels from agriculture to dangerous traffic, but primarily because it is proposed for a 67.7 acre parcel of land that is located “within the most erosive portion of shoreline within Haldimand County”, according to the staff report.
Average annual recession rate there is pegged at 1.67 feet per year, by Haldimand and local conservation authorities’ recently completed Lake Erie Hazard Mapping and Risk Assessment. The lot’s municipal address is 63 Pyle Rd and sits between North Shore drive and the lakeshore.
The proposal is for 173 seasonal cottages, a community centre including a multi-use sports field and double tennis court, and outdoor facilities such as a multi-use trail.
The development would be privately serviced with water and sanitary and a communal septic treatment facility similar to that installed at Shelter Cove.
Planner Justin Miller told council the proponent was warned of multiple roadblocks against approval at a preconsultation meeting in May 2019, and since.
The acreage is zoned agricultural with class 2-3 soils and 84% farmed. The province doesn’t support farm conversions, and neither does the county official plan.
The proponent maintains the acreage is too small to be a viable farm and there are no buildings on it, however it has been cropped for many years with corn, beans and wheat. The county’s official policy is to retain all farmland for future agricultural use.
There were several written objections to the proposal from local residents.
They included, as well as erosion:
Abandoned gas wells, one of which is close to the lake and possibly leaching, raising the ogre of environmental safety. There is also a gas line running through the property.
Road safety: this was a biggie with everyone. Traffic comes over the highway hill at high speeds with no warning for drivers, cyclists or pedestrians, or children waiting for the bus. Many elderly residents. Pyle road very narrow and poorly maintained. Difficult for 2 average sized vehicles to pass without one vehicle having to pull to side. Many close calls witnessed at Northshore/Pyle intersection. Steep hill, excessive speed by some drivers and extra summer traffic from neighbouring trailer parks. Intersection an accident waiting to happen.
Agriculture: we should be encouraging viable small scale farming over leisure, especially when our food supply as Canadians is in jeopardy.
Surrounding property values: could affect and/or increase taxes with no added benefit to existing homeowners. Would disturb the peace and privacy of existing residents.
Archeological: disturbance of indigenous artefacts could cause issues with Six Nations.
Drainage: Natural and steep slope of land toward Pyle road. Runoffs during spring thaw create flooding on Pyle road and Dickhout road. No municipal water and sewage. Septic/grey water drainage from site possible contamination to nearby ditches, properties and lake. Cannot support 173 seasonal cottages.
“There are a lot of negatives” commented councillor Bernie Corbett, adding that the closed septic system proposed to be used is similar to Shelter Cove.
However he noted that the Shelter Cove system is a pilot, and the project has not yet advanced to the stage where it is viable. Holding tanks are being used and the system is not turned on.
The proponent maintains all drainage will be completely self contained.
“It’s like the city coming out to Lowbanks,” councillor Rob Shirton commented.
Councillor Stew Patterson said “It’s a great proposal and I would like to see it in Haldimand, but perhaps not on this site.”
The proposal was turned down 7-0, but Hewitt queried whether there was anything to prohibit the proponent coming back with changes.
Staffer Mike Evers agreed there was nothing to stop them coming back at any time down the road.
The vote is to be ratified Monday.