Citizen groups demand investigation into proposed King Township long-term care home, warning of environmental damage

Jan 19, 2024

Concerned advocates of King Township Catherine Flear (left) and Mary Muter say the Oak Ridges Moraine — the backbone of the Greenbelt — must be protected from development. Photo by Abdul Matin Sarfraz/ Canada’s National Observer

By Lisa Queen | King Connection | Thursday, January 18, 2024

The long-term care home is needed, proponent Marylake Shrine of Our Lady of Grace, argues
Catherine Flear, who is on the board of the Save The Oak Ridges Moraine (STORM) Coalition, stands at a wetland in King Township, which she fears will be negatively affected by the building of a long-term care facility at Marylake.

Warning a long-term care facility in King Township on the Greenbelt threatens the environment, two citizen groups are demanding an investigation under the Ontario Environmental Bill of Rights.

Concerned Citizens of King Township and Save the Oak Ridges Moraine (STORM) Coalition have filed a request for an investigation into the proposed 160-bed St. Rita at Marylake facility at Keele Street and 15th Sideroad.

The home would be outside the King City settlement area boundary, on 600 acres on the Oak Ridges Moraine and would be squeezed between the shores of Mary Lake and a provincially significant wetland that drains into Seneca Lake, the groups said in a statement.

“Due to their hydrogeological composition, Mary Lake and Seneca Lake are ecologically sensitive kettle lakes with many fish species present. Kettle Lakes are highly susceptible to harm caused by common urban contaminants, which is why both Mary Lake and Seneca Lake are designated as key hydrologic features within a Natural Core Area designation of the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan,” it said.

“New development is strictly prohibited in key hydrologic features and associated buffers and especially in kettle lakes, which are further protected from stormwater discharge.”

The long-term care home is needed, proponent Marylake Shrine of Our Lady of Grace, argues.

“King Township has one of the lowest ratios of beds per seniors over 85 years of age in Ontario. With only 36 long-term care beds for over 27,000 residents and a long waitlist for these beds, our community requires a modern, accessible long-term care home for our seniors and their families,” its website said.

“For over 70 years, the Order of St. Augustine have been the stewards of Marylake – welcoming visitors and tending to hundreds of acres of preserved local natural heritage, while providing long-term care beds for King Township community members,” it continues.

“The expansion of the St. Rita at Marylake Long-Term Care Home is a chance to provide modern, quality long-term care for more residents and their families in our community. The new home will be a revitalization of the Marylake site, improving long-term care services to better serve the needs of King Township’s seniors and help local families keep their loved ones close to them as they grow older in a charming setting.”

But the citizen groups allege plans for the home approved by King staff would violate the Environmental Protection Act, the Provincial Policy Statement, the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Act and the Federal Fisheries Act by allowing the discharge of stormwater and contaminated stormwater into kettle lakes and provincially significant wetlands.