The Ontario Municipal Board hearing on the expansion of the Port Carling boundary began in Port Carling on Oct. 12. The hearing pits two co-appellants, the MLA and Friends of Port Carling, against the Township of Muskoka Lakes and the District of Muskoka, which last year approved an expansion of the eastside boundary of Port Carling in order to facilitate development of Hanna's Landing, a 255-home waterfront subdivision on Indian River/Mirror Lake.
Hanna's Landing Inc. is also a party in the hearing.
The hearing was expected to last about four weeks, as planners and economists on both sides argued the planning merits of the expansion and the process that approved it. Unfortunately, the hearing was suspended at the start of its fourth week when the OMB chair (or judge), Aristotle Christou, took ill.
The hearing is now expected to reconvene in late January, for one more week.
So far, the hearing has heard the testimony of Friends of Port Carling planner Marie Poirier, Friends’ economist/planner David Amborski, and MLA director (and professional planner) Anne McCauley. All argued that the boundary expansion is not needed, and thus violated the Provincial Policy Statement that governs development across Ontario. Anne also discussed the setbacks, density ranges and other policies that should be imposed on the Hanna's Landing waterfront, if the development goes ahead.
The hearing has also heard from township planning director Stephen Fahner and District planner Derrick Hammond, who explained why they think the expansion was necessary. We believe we exposed a number of weaknesses in their arguments, and the chair himself conducted a vigorous questioning of Mr. Fahner.
When the hearing begins again, it will hear testimony from two more witnesses, a planner and an economist, representing Hanna's Landing. That will be followed by summations from all parties. After that, a decision is expected from Mr. Christou within a month or two.
OMB hearings are complex affairs, and can sometimes be tough to sit through. We thank all our members who have come out to show their support for the MLA.
We will let you know when the hearing recommences. If you have any questions, please contact the MLA Office at 705-765-5723