This week there was a protest planned to take place in front of the South Glengarry Township Hall in Lancaster. The event was organized to protest a recent decision by South Glengarry Council to approve a zoning amendment of land adjacent to Cooper Marsh. This zoning amendment will pave the way for a future development of 25 campsites directly east of Cooper Marsh.
First, let me start by saying, I’m not crazy about the idea of developing greenspace so close to a protected wetland. If I could wave a magic wand and say that this land should be left untouched and that the habitats of wildlife living there remain protected I would, but to do that I would have to by-pass laws and processes and that’s really what is at issue here.
Cooper Marsh and the Raisin Region Conservation Authority (RRCA), which manages Cooper Marsh, does not own the land in question. The owners of the land are allowed to request a rezoning of their property to develop it within the bounds of the law and that’s what they are doing.
Run Guo Investments Canada Ltd./Fotenn Planning + Design followed the process to apply for the rezoning amendment. The RRCA reviewed the proposal and found no grounds on which to object, as did the Township of South Glengarry.
Over a year ago, I spoke with Deputy Mayor Lyle Warden about this issue and he told me at that time, that the property owners were following the process to get their land rezoned, and that if they followed the process to the letter, and Council still voted down their request, they likely would be taken to a Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) and the decision would be overturned anyway.
We can’t stop someone from using their property in a lawful way just because we don’t personally like the way they plan on using it. In situations like these, the problem is with the process, and with the law, not with the decision of South Glengarry Council or the RRCA.
Personally, I don’t think that South Glengarry needs more campsites. I think that green space and wildlife habitats should be protected. We keep on losing these beautiful places and the species that live there, and once they are gone, they are impossible to get back, but, how I personally feel does not, and should not have an impact on a legal or administrative proceeding.
Joanne Haley, the Township’s General Manager of Planning, Building & Enforcement told Council that their vote to allow the rezoning was not the last hurdle the property owners would have to overcome to begin building on the land. Haley explained that they also have to undergo the process of a site plan control, which would review the status of any at-risk species in the area. We know of at least two at-risk species in the area the Least Bittern and Blandings Turtle.
I hope that these processes run as they should. The protection of wild habitats should be paramount.
If the landowners insist on going forward with this development, I hope that they work with the RRCA and genuinely do all they can to protect this unique environment.
What do you think readers of the proposed campsites next to Cooper Marsh? Email me a Letter to the Editor at email@example.com