As expected, Mr. Frank Lippa is appealing to the Ontario Municipal Board (“OMB”) the decision of the Township of Muskoka Lakes to reject his pit and quarry applications. The Township has confirmed that Mr. Lippa filed his appeals on July 10, 2017.
SLCO and residents turned out in great numbers to the Township of Muskoka Lakes Council meeting on June 16, 2017, to voice their concerns with Mr. Lippa’s Planning Act applications to permit a 200,000 tonnes/year pit and quarry – and it worked. Council voted unanimously to deny Mr. Lippa’s rezoning and Official Plan applications . Thanks to your support, SLCO put forward an evidence-based case for Council to reject the Lippa pit and quarry.
On June 26, 2017, the Town of Huntsville also voted unanimously to support the Township of Muskoka Lakes’ decision.
Below, please find information from our lawyer on what to expect with an OMB appeal, and how you can help.
SLCO expects a contested hearing, as multiple unresolved issues have been identified by our experts, e.g. impacts to Skeleton Lake, traffic safety, noise, etc. We have heard that local Indigenous communities received stacks of binders from the Applicant in late May, only a short time before the June Council meeting, which our lawyer says is "patently unreasonable".
Information on OMB Hearings
- Timing of the Hearing: The OMB's hearing schedule dictates when the hearing will take place. Currently, we do not expect a hearing until 9-12 months in the future.
- Length of the Hearing: OMB hearings on contested aggregate planning applications may last 2-3 weeks, depending on the disputed/unresolved issues involved (e.g. hydrogeology, water, ecology, planning, traffic engineering and safety, etc.).
- Procedure before the Hearing: There will likely be a Pre-hearing Conference for the Lippa appeals in the next 4 months. At the Pre-hearing Conference, parties and participants will be granted status, and the OMB will ask the parties to work on the Procedural Order. The Procedural Order is the "road map" for the hearing, setting out dates for the parties to exchange issues list, witness lists, witness statements, etc.
- Evidence at the Hearing: OMB hearings are expert-driven. This means that in order to support its case, SLCO will continue to work with the experts it retained to review the Lippa applications: land use planner, ecologist, traffic impacts and safety, noise, and others.
The OMB hearing requires a substantial financial commitment in order for SLCO to put its best case forward to convince the OMB to refuse Mr. Lippa's proposed pit and quarry.
SLCO members continue to voice the importance of protecting and enhancing the health of our Skeleton Lake watershed, and according to Mr. Gord Miller, the former Environmental Commissioner of Ontario, the Lippa pit and quarry application is a direct threat to the Lake we all love.
Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry: Aggregate Licence Application
July 10, 2017, was the deadline for the public to submit Letters of Objection to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. SLCO submitted comprehensive and expert-based objections, thanks to your support. We also thank those of you who submitted your own Letters of Objection to the Ministry, ensuring our community's voice is heard. These will be available on our website.
We eagerly await the Applicant's response to our concerns about the impacts to Skeleton Lake and our community, and will update you once we have them.
The Ministry is responsible for processing Mr. Lippa's aggregate licence application under the Aggregate Resources Act. There is a chance that the Ministry will refer Mr. Lippa’s licence application to the OMB. Often, the OMB will hear both planning appeals (rezoning and Official Plan matters) and aggregate licensing matters in a single hearing.
Other Updates on the Lippa Pit and Quarry
To date, there have been no comments from the Province on the application on many important issues, such as impacts to Skeleton Lake tributaries and the Lake, air quality, noise, etc.
The Township of Muskoka Lakes will also be preparing its case against the Lippa pit and quarry. SLCO needs to engage the Township to ensure it continues to represent our community’s voice and hires experts to support this position.
What You Can Do
- Donate to SLCO to cover the cost of our legal and expert fees.
- Call or write your local Councillor and the Mayor, and thank the Township of Muskoka Lakes for taking a stand to protect our environment and community.
- Encourage local and provincial governments to engage Indigenous communities.
SLCO will send weekly updates on the Lippa pit and quarry, and related issues.
Skeleton Lake Cottagers Organization