PRESS RELEASE:

King Citizens Request Township Follow Oak Ridges Moraine Planning Process

March 8, 2021 – King City, ON.  In December 2020 the Augustinian Fathers (Ontario), Inc. (AFOI) had requested endorsement by Council for a Ministerial Zoning Order on their Mary Lake property to enable establishment of a long-term care facility, a hotel, conference center and banquet hall to be built within the 120m buffer of Natural Core Area of the Oak Ridges Moraine.  This request was firmly rejected by King Council.  But in February Council endorsed the Director of Growth Management Services recommendation to allow zoning for a 188 bed Long Term Care facility based on letters describing care that had been provided on site for their elderly.

The lands of the proposed development are of Public and Provincial interest as they include a kettle lake, Mary Lake, areas of high ecological value including a significant part of the largest Provincially Significant Wetland in southern Ontario and a large Natural Core Area in the Oak Ridges Moraine (ORM) Conservation Plan.  The site is also home to the Mary Lake Monastery, the Rosary Path and a heritage barn.  Based on planning reports and ORM requirements the long-term care facility would be situated where the Monastery now stands within the 120 m buffer of Mary Lake. 

The Chairs of two local citizen groups in King Township, Concerned Citizens of King Township and Kingscross Ratepayers Association, with signed support from 200 local residents, have significant concerns with the proposed development in this location and have asked King Township for an independent legal and planning review regarding whether the zoning of the property would permit such a facility.

Notwithstanding that the groups recognize that there is a need for additional and better elder care capacity throughout the Greater Toronto Area (including in King Township), the group does not believe that this isolated ecologically sensitive site is appropriate for such a large enterprise.  Their February 22, 2021 letter to Mayor Pellegrini and Council states:

β€œIt is the understanding of the stakeholders that services provided at Mary Lake have been rudimentary in nature at best and have only provided for a small group of occupants from the monastery at any given time, and on an irregular basis.  No numbers or dates documenting who were provided care on site, or the time periods were provided in the planning report.  To suggest that a modern 188-bed Long Term Care facility is an extension of what existed before challenges section 6(4) of the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan as well as the planning definition of Long Term Care.”

In a Planning Report on February 8, 2021, King Township Council, and Township planning staff took the position that the current zoning of the property permitted a Long Term Care Facility based on information in a letter provided by the trustees of the Monastery, the Augustinian Fathers (Ontario), Inc. (AFOI).  Council was also told that if a site plan application was submitted it would be processed and in parallel with various studies identified by Toronto Regional Conservation Authority (TRCA) that would be conducted.  The information on what previous Long Term Care was provided was not included in the planning report. 

It is the position of these stakeholders that environmental studies by the TRCA to determine the suitability of the Monastery site for any further development should be conducted prior to the preparation of any site plan agreement.

In their February 22nd letter to Mayor and Council, the stakeholders made the following requests:

  1. To avoid wasting time and resources of both Staff and AFOI, it would be prudent to seek independent planning and legal opinions.
  2. If the zoning is then confirmed and appears to allow a Long Term Care use, then there needs to be a Site Specific Zoning Bylaw application filed by the applicants.   Only once that is approved should the applicant then embark on the details of the site plan and conduct all the required studies.
  3. We request that the planning and legal reviews be brought back to Council for review and that three weeks public notice be provided by the Clerk so that the stakeholders have time to conduct their own review.

At the time of this press release, Mayor Pellegrini and Council have not yet acknowledged their February 22nd request.

Media Contacts:

Susan Walmer, Oak Ridges Moraine Land Trust

Debbe Crandall, Save the Oak Ridges Moraine 647-335-8897

Mary Muter, Kingscross Ratepayers Association 905-833-2020

Bruce Craig, Concerned Citizens of King Township 905-833-3272