Ivan Battye,

100 Muir Cres.,

Whitby, On.,

L1P 1 B6

905-665-1534

kiddbatt@mac.com

 

 

Nov. 19, 2008

 

 

The Honorable John Gerretsen,

Minister of the Environment,

135 St Clair Ave., West,

10th Floor,

Toronto On M4V1P5

jgerretsen.mpp@liberal.ola.org

 

 

Dear Sir

 

I am in receipt of a document signed by Dave Coulas, Park Superintendent, dated Oct 23 2008 entitled Decision Notice: Kawartha Highlands Signature Site Park Management Plan.  On the reverse side it discusses “Access Road Study: Kawartha Highlands Signature Site Park. Notice of completion

Please see:  http://www.osha.igs.net/~kiddbatt/DOCS/park/support_documents/noticeofcompletion.pdf

 

With regard to the above noted study, “Kawartha Highlands Signature Park:  Park Access Road Study Final Environmental Study Report,

http://www.ontarioparks.com/english/planning_pdf/kawa/kawa-ESR-2008.pdf

I am making a “Part II Order Request.”  I do so under the provisions outlined in Notice of completion and in accordance with your document,  “A Class Environmental Assessment”. (see page 40) http://www.mnr.gov.on.ca/245471.pdf

 

There are two previous studies of the area that directly contradict the findings of this new study.  They are as follows:

 

1) The “Meteek” report (Kawartha Highlands Background Information Report) was prepared by author, Jack van der Meer, for the Local Stakeholder Committee (LSC), (Sissy Tanner:  Chair) in August 2000. This report along with comments may be viewed at:

http://www.osha.igs.net/~kiddbatt/DOCS/park/Page53.html

The LSC was the forerunner of the existing park Management Advisory Board (MAB) for whom this Access Road Study was written.

 

The following are some quotes from Jack van der Meer’s original document:

 

" Bright (1980) estimate that over 60% of the region i---d consists of exposed (bare bedrock)" and again on the same page "Except for these pockets of till and organic soils, they are exposed bedrock, and have no capacity to hold water, so drainage is excessive." and on page 29 "Soils are shallow to non existent,...... bedrock is often near the surface" and on the same page Re 50's a 60's recreational zones and the Bottle - Sucker Park Reserve were intended to stop further disposition of cottage lots on the small undeveloped lakes and to provide for low intensity recreation, namely canoeing which required little in the way of facilities. The park reserve, in the area of "deeper soils" was set aside --- for more intense recreational facilities such as campgrounds, picnic areas, and swimming beaches --- and even there --- material over bedrock are shallow" and again in para. 7.2.1 Campgrounds, Swimming Beaches, and Picnic Areas.   The very nature of the Kawartha Highlands Featured Area is what makes it interesting as a protected area.  Its bedrock controlled topography and drainage, with very shallow soils, makes it generally unsuitable for the more intensive-use facilities found in many provincial parks, such as car campgrounds, 'picnic areas and swimming beaches.  Such development would require a lot of manipulation of the environment,' such as bringing in significant quantities of fill for parking lots, campsites, sewage disposal systems and maintenance areas.  Burying of water and power systems would be impractical inmost of the area.  There are deeper, (but still shallow) soils in the Sherborne land Type around Bottle and Sucker lakes, that would accommodate some such facilities, and this was the original intention for this provincial park when it was first proposed in 1959.  A fine sand beach at the north end of Bottle Lake has development potential for traditional swimming and day use activity and adequate areas for associated facilities could be developed."

 

Parking lots, at the South end of Bottle Lake in proximity to campsites, as proposed in this Access Road Study, are in direct contravention of the previous study.  They increase the environmental load.  The original promise was to be a “canoe in only” facility for very good reason.  The damage from overuse is already evident.

 

2) The The Official Plan of The Township of Galway-Cavendish and Harvey (GCH Twp) (See section 5.1.10.4 Environmental Protection areas page 12): the second contradicted report.  From (Access Road Study) (See section “Fisheries and Aquatic Resources” page 10 and 11).

 

“---With the exception of major lakes and rivers that occur within the study area (i.e., Beaver Lake, Mississagua Lake, Anstruther Lake, Long Lake, etc., which all provide diverse habitat for sport fish, panfish, and baitfish), all fisheries waters found along the alternative access road alignments support warm water baitfish habitat.  No cool water or cold water resources exist, and no rare or sensitive species were recorded.  Details for each alternative access road alignment are summarized below.

 

         Route Alternative 2 – Beaver Lake Road

The Beaver Lake Road access road alignment is situated within the Mississagua River watershed.  The three Fisheries Act constraints that occur along this route are described below.

The two easternmost features are the narrows over which there are existing single span bridges (i.e., at Catchacoma Narrows, and between Beaver Lake and Gold Lake).  Both of these bridges are over fisheries waters, supporting warm water sport fish habitat.

The other feature is a large swamp with open water pockets.  The water temperature was warmer than the air temperature, at approximately 26C.  This feature supports warm water baitfish habitat, including:  brook stickleback fathead minnow northern redbelly dace creek chub finescale dace.

MNR fish stocking records also indicate that Sucker Lake (which is located adjacent to the “shaded area” at the eastern terminus of the route alignment) has been a part of the historical fish stocking program.  Brook trout were stocked in Sucker Lake in the 1950s and 1960s, and lake trout were stocked in the lake between the 1970s and 1990s

         (Government of Ontario, 2005).”

 

The highlighting is ours.

 

If I may, I now refer you to The Official Plan of The Township of Galway-Cavendish and Harvey (GCH Twp) (See section 5.1.10.4 Environmental Protection areas page 12):

 

“ 5.1.10.8          Coldwater Lake Trout Lakes

Highly sensitive lake trout lakes and moderately sensitive lake trout lakes are identified on Schedules “B1”, “B2” and “B3” of this Plan.  The following policies shall apply to these lakes:

i) Highly Sensitive Lake Trout Lakes

Beaver Lake, Pencil Lake, Fortescue Lake, Crystal Lake and Cavendish Lake within the Township of Galway-Cavendish and Harvey have been designated as highly sensitive or “at capacity” Lake Trout Lakes.

The creation of new lots by consent or plan of subdivision/condominium shall be prohibited on highly sensitive “at-capacity” lakes.  This policy applies to all lands within 300 metres of the normal high water marks of such capacity reached lakes, whether or not the subject lands are in a land use designation that permits residential development or other forms of development.

Notwithstanding this policy, Council may consider the creation of new lots in unique or special circumstances where it can be demonstrated, in consultation with the Ministries of Environment and Natural Resources that one or more of the following conditions exist:

Š      Drainage of the proposed lot flows to a separate, non-sensitive watershed as a result of the physical features of the property;

Š      Detailed site-specific hydrogeological studies show that the drainage of the sewage effluent will effectively result in a circuitous flow path that extends for at least 300 metres before reaching the lake;

Š      That new technologies in sewage disposal systems intended to serve any proposed development have been accepted by the Ministry of the Environment and will result in no adverse effects on lake water quality;

Š      That any conventional sewage disposal system designed to serve a new development will be set back a minimum of 300 metres from the high water mark;

Š      That a detailed site-specific hydrogeological and soil study which assesses phosphorous distribution, mitigation velocity and long-term soil retention capabilities.

Existing lot of record (existing at the date of approval of this Official Plan) may be issued a building permit for uses permitted by the Zoning By-law.  The greatest development setback achievable shall be provided for existing lots of record on highly sensitive lake trout lakes in order to minimize negative impacts on water quality.  At a minimum, a 30-metre development setback with maintenance of the natural vegetative cover should be provided.”

 

The Access Road Study is clearly in error.  This ‘Highly Sensitive” designation comes from MNR and MOE and is long-standing.

 

The area proposed for use in the Access Road Study is at the eastern end of Beaver Lake.  (See Google Maps and insert Beaver Lake RD On)  The existing interim parking lots (there are 2) straddle one of only 2 natural water inflows to Beaver Lake and the proposed road and parking lot are in the identical place to a road begun in 1968 and abandoned that same year.  In fact, Jack van deer Meer in his Meteek report discussed that road and site ever so eloquently when he said:

 

"A combination of factors, including lack of continuing Winter Works funding and a reconsideration of the appropriateness of the development plan to the area, resulted in the development for the proposed park being discontinued."

 

In fact, there are a number of cottage properties between these two parking lots that were, purchased and never built upon because of this “Highly Sensitive” designation.

 

Both of these above noted concerns were raised with Karen Wall, the project manager of the current report, at the Cavendish public meeting.  She stated that she was not familiar with the Meteek report although clearly she was (see Access Road Study third para. page 37) and had chosen to “cherry pick” it.  When asked, she clearly had no understanding of the sensitivity of Beaver Lake.

 

Below is a link to our original response to this Road draft as posted to the EBR.  It was based on our conversation with Ms Wall at the time. http://www.osha.igs.net/~kiddbatt/DOCS/park/page52.html - RESPONSE_TO.

 

Of significant concern is the low and narrow ridge of land that separates Bottle and Beaver Lakes and the 4 ft elevation difference between the two.  Any loss of separation between the two lakes could prove disastrous.  The existing parking lots and the ones proposed, concentrate the traffic across this ridge.  Any disturbance (construction project, footpath, “washroom” or otherwise) to the “Highly Sensitive” Beaver Lake drainage basin, would contradict the concerns raised in the GCH Twp. official plan and all of the past 40 years of environmental decisions made in that regard.

 

The minimum required outcome would be for the study to be revised to require the area to be fenced (along the road) and restricted for 5 years in order that the area regenerate itself from the damage that has occurred.  Further, the revision should designate a restricted use thereafter, based on the comments in the GCH twp. official plan.

 

A parking lot or any other such park project would require GCH Twp. approval.  As the Minister is aware, this township has a 90% cottage-based funding, whose voice is maintained through township proxy votes.  GCH. Twp. councilors are local folks who are responsive in a major way, to their cottage constituents.  The plan’s current proposition to install “washrooms” and to utilize a “Landscape Architect” will impact the cooperation of the GCH Twp. to the extent that future approvals might well be difficult considering the existing local opposition to the use of the Beaver Lake road.

 

The Plan misrepresents the nature of the Public’s intended experience.  It can hardly be counted as a “Backcountry canoeing” experience (see Access Road Study page 36), if one parks the car, hikes 300 feet, canoes 300 feet and camps.  Such close proximity parking increases waste, caters to party camping, and overloads the area.  As outlined in Meteek above, the area cannot support this level of use, most particularly at the south end of Bottle lake, the area most closely associated with the proposed parking lots.  Already, the parking lots are overloaded and campsites are denuded.  It is just a matter of time before Bottle Lake itself becomes polluted.  This kind of thinking is in sharp contrast to the increased setbacks now required by the Provincial Government for cottage properties. It is difficult to understand the lack of care and concern Parks Ontario show for their own properties.

 

The best possible outcome, based on the findings of the Meteek report, would be that this Access Road Study is revised to show parking lots are not to be built along the most eastern portion of the Beaver Lake road, a “No Parking” bylaw on GCH twp. roads as per North Kawartha (NK) twp. be enacted and enforced, and that all camping park traffic be channeled via the two marinas in the area as per the CCA letter to Minister MNR.

 

In making this submission, we are guided by the 8 points listed on Page 40 of A Class Environmental Assessment as stated above.  Thus far we have responded to points 1 through 3, that deal with concerns unresolved, the Part II request and appropriate alternatives.  Points 3 to 5 necessitate an assessment of the process engaged in by MNR.

 

I submit this document as a private citizen whose background (both current and past) includes:

Š      Catchacoma Cottagers Association (CCA)

o     Member, Director and Vice President.

Š      Friends of Catchacoma (OMB successful submission)

o     Founder and President.

Š      Cavendish Community Rate Payers Association Inc., (CCRAI)

o     Director.

Š      Stakeholder Groups of the Kawartha Highlands (SGKH)

o     Member

Š      Federation of Ontario Cottagers' Association (FOCA)

o     Director

I am owner of a part of a family group of properties bought from the crown 60 years ago at the end of the Beaver Lake road on Catchacoma Lake south of the Bottle Creek Dam.  I operate the Pookh’s web site and have done since the time of the Ontario Living Legacy Local Stakeholder Committee (OLL LSC) that Ms. Tanner chaired.

 

All of the above noted organizations have made representations to MNR and/or have commented on the EBR.   All local cottage and ratepayer associations, and SGKH and Municipal council have asked that this Beaver Lake road not be used for good and valid reasons.  There is a Charter of agreement between the then Minister MNR and the community that specifically precludes the use of this road.  Notwithstanding all this opposition, senior MNR staff, represented by Dave Coulas, undertook this road study.

 

A Class Environmental Assessment is a Public consultation process.  It is difficult to understand what exactly this means in real terms.  I have reviewed the subject on the Internet, the search of the On. Gov. web site provides no hits. I asked the Premier via email to clarify some 4 months ago.  There has been no reply.  I therefore take as our source of information the OECD and their Background Document on Public Consultation.  From that document there are 3 levels of governmental consultation suggested. They are:

 

a)   To inform.

b)   To inform, take response and (sometimes) reply.

c)   To inform, take response and negotiate outcomes.

 

The report, the public comments raised, collected and edited, as well as the summaries provided, are all through the single lens of Ms. Wall.  Of the some 200+ comments provided, Ms. Wall chose to provide only 11 answers.  All but one, (of those submitted), concerned the Beaver Lake road.  In making her responses, Ms Wall repeatedly incorporated a number of errors and misleading statements.  The final report is substantively unchanged from draft with no alleviation of the concerns addressed by the report.  Ms Wall took no public input in fact; she “talked the talk” but literally and figuratively did not “walk the walk”.  It is believed by many of us that she produced as instructed and raises the question --- Has there been every attempt to hide and obfuscate information by a contract subservient to the funding source?

 

I suggest that the process as illustrated by this Road Study is not a “beacon of light” in an age served by democratic process and sourced by the Internet.  The report is seriously flawed and is at odds with two previous assessments. We have continuously been regaled with more “Dave Coulas-type” promises of future projects to improve present day environmental concerns that, are now acknowledged as never being funded (see notes of meeting MNR).

 

Upon receipt of the Decision Notice I emailed Dave Coulas with a preliminary response of concerns.  I received a “bounce” advising Dave was out of the office until Nov 15.  No reply has been received to date.  It is worth pointing out that a “negotiated outcome” as is clearly implied within the Environmental Assessment document requires a party at the negotiation who is a “decision maker”, capable of amending documents.  Through no fault of his own, Dave Coulas is not such a person.

 

Training and clear guidance as to the full and true meaning of “transparency” and “full public consultation” is required for MNR staff.  I believe the thinking that produced this Access Road Study is self-serving and egocentric.  It is in need of reconsideration by 2nd party assistance.  The oversights I have identified herein definitely question the authenticity of this report.  They also question the commitment and function of public consultation.  Any implementation without correction would be erroneous, insincere and misrepresent the integrity both MNR and MOE. 

 

Regards,

Ivan Battye, (BSc Ag)

 

 

Cc via email

Premier Dalton McGuinty

MPP Jeff Leal

MPP Laurie Scott

MPP John Gerretsen

MNR Staff- Bruce Bateman, Barton Feilders, Dave Coulas

NK&GCH Townships

SGKH

OFAH

CCA

CCRAI

Beaver lake Association