Minaki Lodge

In the late summer of 2012, Steinbach developers Bob Banman and Bob Schinkel proposed to put 161 seasonal residential condominium units on the Minaki Lodge site, with 56 units in the existing hotel buildings, 8 in existing cottage buildings, and 95 on new vacant lots. A commercial condominium unit would hold the former Dockside restaurant. The 25-year old Minaki Lodge private sewage treatment plant would handle all the sewage and wastewater from the project.  The condominium is to be called Minaki on the River.

The Minaki Cottagers Association, representing over 380 seasonal property owners and a large number of year round residents of the town of Minaki, have raised a set of significant concerns regarding the proposed treatment of sewage from the redevelopment in unorganized territory, the adverse impacts of the extreme density of proposed condominium units on Minaki’s special character and context and on its tourism industry, the danger to public safety from the excessive number of boats and docks and amount of water recreation in the Lodge channel, and the loss of the significant cultural heritage of the Minaki golf course landscape.  The MCA and year-round residents  presented those issues to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, which holds an approval of the Minaki on the River project as a matter of land use planning, and to the Ministry of the Environment, which erroneously assigned to Banman and Schinkel the former Minaki Lodge sewage treatment permit.

Two staff members from Municipal Affairs came to Minaki in the summer of 2014, met with representatives of the MCA, heard about the MCA’s issues first-hand, and took a boat tour of the Minaki area. The staffers met also with representatives of the year-round town residents, and with the Chief and a Council member representing the Wabaseemoong Independent Nation, to hear their concerns about the proposal.

In 2015, the developers filed amended condominium applications with Municipal Affairs, reducing the number of residential units to 138. That modest reduction resulted from regulatory requirements regarding odors and distances from the treatment plant, and did not address any of the impacts that the MCA, the residents of the town, and the Independent Nation have been pressing on the Ministry.  Nevertherless, in early April, 2016, MMAH approved the amended redevelopment applications with conditions, and gave the redevelopers until 2019 to meet them.  That approval was disappointing, but not entirely unexpected.  After reveiwing the conditions, the MCA and the large group of year-round residents appealed the approvals to the Ontario Municipal Board for a hearing on the project and the issues raised by the local interests. The hearing took place over two weeks starting on July 17, 2017, in Kenora.  The MCA and the group of residents put on a comprehensive case, with assistance from counsel and a registered planner from Toronto, engineering and cultural heritage experts, and nine year-round and seasonal lay witnesses.  Representatives of the Wabaseemoong Independent Nation, the Ochiichagwe’babigo’ining Independent Nation, and the Lake of the Woods District Property Owners Association appeared and also registered concerns about the development proposal.

In mid-October, 2017, the OMB upheld all appeals from the MCA and the residents, vacating the development approvals for the condominium project. The OMB decision agreed with the MCA and the residents on a single conclusive point — that under Section 1.6.6.3 of the Provincial Policy Statement, private communal sewage treatment is allowed only in municipalities, where the municipality is available to provide oversight and a backstop for failure. In unorganized territory, private communal sewage treatment of the kind proposed by developers for the 138 residential condominium units and for the additional restaurant unit cannot occur. The OMB decision is available under the “MCA Appeals” heading below.

Developers asked for leave to appeal the OMB ruling to Divisional Court, and also appealed the ruling to the chair of the OMB.  In May, 2018, the OMB (now known as the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal) chair rejected developers’ appeal, leaving in place the prohibition on private communal sewage treatment.  The judicial appeal, put on hold pending the administrative one, may now proceed if developers elect.

The MCA’s stance on the proposed development is described in both summary form and in complete detail in the materials listed below.

The MCA always makes clear that it supports redevelopment of the Minaki Lodge site, that it is not opposed to the seasonal residential condominium use that Banman and Schinkel have proposed for the Minaki on the River project, and that it hopes that Banman and Schinkel can be successful and that local Minaki businesses can benefit from the new seasonal residents.  But that success and that benefit can still happen from an appropriately-sized project and from sewage treatment that conforms to all rules and regulations.

OMB APPEAL PROCESS

MCA COMMENT ON ENVIRONMENTAL REGISTRY

MCA SUPPLEMENTAL SUBMISSION TO ONTARIO MINISTRY OF MUNICIPAL AFFAIRS AND HOUSING REGARDING SEWAGE TREATMENT

MCA SUPPLEMENTAL SUBMISSION TO ONTARIO MINISTRY OF MUNICIPAL AFFAIRS AND HOUSING REGARDING HERITAGE LANDSCAPE

MCA CORRESPONDENCE WITH ONTARIO MINISTRY OF THE ENVIRONMENT REGARDING SEWAGE TREATMENT PERMIT

CORRESPONDENCE WITH MANITOBA PROVINCIAL OFFICIALS

LAKE OF THE WOODS DISTRICT PROPERTY OWNERS ASSOCIATION MAGAZINE  ARTICLES

MEMBER UPDATES

MCA SUBMISSION TO MMAH, APRIL 2013

Minaki Lodge

Advertisements