LETTER TO KWS EDITOR:

CCKT Responds to Mary Lake LTC Announcement

On Saturday, King/Vaughan MPP Stephen Lecce announced a new “state-of-the-art 140 bed” Long Term Care (LTC) home in King Township. While the announcement did not specify the location, UniversalCare Canada was noted as being a partner in the project. Many will recall that the Augustinian Fathers of Ontario Inc. were proposing to partner with UniversalCare to build a new LTC facility at Mary Lake that was met with significant concern by hundreds of King Township residents.

While Concerned Citizens of King Township (CCKT) is very supportive of locating more LTC in King Township, if this latest announcement is indeed being proposed at Mary Lake, we have grave reservations about the location of this particular facility due to its remarkable and sensitive natural features on the Oak Ridges Moraine. In fact, just last month, CCKT, in partnership with Oak Ridges Moraine Land Trust, Save the Oak Ridges Moraine, and Kingscross Ratepayers Association, supported by over two hundred residents, sent a letter to town council following a staff report advising that a LTC facility with potentially up to 188 beds was a permitted use in the zoning for Mary Lake. Mayor Pellegrini noted several times that staff were merely providing an update, and that an application had not yet been submitted or any approvals given. As a result, the announcement from MPP Lecce in partnership with Mayor Pellegrini came as a total surprise to both councillors and residents who are now asking important questions.

1) Existing Use – While King Township staff advised council that the zoning of the property permits a LTC facility based on existing uses within the monastery, there has been no formal evidence presented to the community or to council to support that position. The concept of existing use is key to this project because the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Act (ORMCA) stipulates that only legally existing uses established at or prior to November 2001 are permitted to expand. It is up to the municipality to determine if a site meets the ORMA criteria, but no actual evidence has been provided by the town’s planning staff. Ordinarily, such details would have been included with a report but was not in this instance and has yet to be made available despite requests from at least one councillor and many residents. In the letter to council noted above, the group requested that independent planning and legal opinions be obtained to confirm whether or not a LTC facility meets the required zoning under the ORMCP. To date, there has been no response from the Township.

2) Small-Scale Use  – The ORMA also notes that only small-scale industrial uses that “do not require large-scale modification of terrain” are permitted. We do not believe that a “state-of-the-art 140 bed” LTC home fits the definition of small-scale and it will most certainly require large-scale modification of terrain to accommodate more than a kilometer of piping for new water and waste-water services that do not currently exist on site (more on this below).

3) Zoning  – This site is not currently zoned correctly to accommodate this project. While the town’s new official plan does make provisions for institutional use and water services on the property, the plan is currently under appeal and so is not in effect. As a result, the old official plan is still valid which poses two significant problems for the project. First, the property is listed as countryside and this type of development is not permitted. Second, the town’s water, sewage, and wastewater infrastructure is not approved to extend north of the 15th, without which this facility would not be able to proceed.

COVID has taught us that traditional LTC has failed miserably to provide our elders the care they need and deserve. As experts in elder care have now been repeatedly stating, we need to rethink elder care and large LTC facilities are not the answer. Rather, their care needs to be incorporated “in place” in a community of care. It has been estimated that only 5% of those currently in LTC need to be in that type of institutional care, and switching to “in place care” will cost far less for our now debt ridden economy.

The Mary Lake property is a 612 acre parcel of land on the north-west corner of the 15th sideroad and Keele st. that is located within the Greenbelt and on the Oak Ridges Moraine. The property is part of the Mary Lake and Seneca Lake wetland complex, the largest Provincially Significant Wetland in southern Ontario and a large portion of the property is also designated Natural Core Area in the ORMCP. CCKT believes that in this time of climate emergency and decline in natural heritage areas, it is more important than ever that this ecologically sensitive land be preserved. The Natural Core Area at Mary Lake would be an ideal candidate for purchase by the Oak Ridges Moraine Land Trust and saved from development as a legacy for future generations.

Jennifer Anstey
Co-Chair of CCKT
March 22, 2021

Press Release:

March 22, 2021. “The Augustinians Fathers and Mariann Home announce expansion and relocation of long-term care facility to the Marylake Campus in King Township."

https://www.globenewswire.com/news-release/2021/03/22/2196848/0/en/The-Augustinians-Fathers-and-Mariann-Home-announce-expansion-and-relocation-of-long-term-care-facility-to-the-Marylake-Campus-in-King-Township.html