King Councillor’s Challenge Development At Mary Lake

May 12, 2023

For Immediate Release:


May 12th, 2023 – King City, ON.   On May 15th, 2023, King Township will be receiving a challenge against the recommendations made by King Township planning staff and the variances approved by the King Township Committee of Adjustment that have allowed for the development of a Long Term Care (LTC) Facility at Marylake Monastery by Augustinian Fathers (Ontario) Inc. (AFOI).  

Brought forward by Councilor Debbie Schaefer and seconded by Councilor Jennifer Anstey, the motion being presented requests that King Council revisit the circumstances that allowed for the progression of development at Mary Lake.
Echoing the concerns voiced by residents of King Township at last month’s Committee of Adjustment meetings, the motion alleges that the council has not provided a formal decision on the past legal and non-conforming continuous use at Marylake Monastery, affirms the need for an open, transparent, and public decision-making process for commercial development applications, and questions the legal precedent being set by King Township regarding development on the Oak Ridges Moraine.

It is the opinion of the Concerned Citizens of King Township (CCKT), the Kingscross Ratepayers Association (KRA), The Oak Ridges Moraine Land Trust (ORMLT), and Save the Oak Ridges Moraine (STORM) that this proposal does not conform with the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan as required by the ORM Conservation Act. 

This development application should not have been recommended by staff.

The proposed use does not meet the test of an “existing use.” Its history as a small-scale private facility providing short-term care to select clergy members of an exclusive religious order does not legitimize the preexisting use of this site as a large-scale public institution.

The large size of this proposed institutional use far surpasses the threshold to define “small scale development”, in a location where only “small scale” institutional uses are permitted. The scale of development proposed by the AFOI does not conform to the definition of minor development set out in the ORMCP

The proposed 160 bed long-term care facility, at the large scale proposed, is a land use more appropriately sited in a Settlement Area, and not in the Countryside Area designation, which has as its purpose to encourage agricultural and other rural uses. (Consistent with the Land Use Designations as set out in the Oak Ridges Conservation Act and Plan)

Staff have indicated that their planning opinion is informed only by letters from AFOI, it is unclear if consultation with any other authorities or experts was sought, such as experts in Long Term Care.

“In our opinion the applicant has not sufficiently demonstrated that Marylake Monastery has ever operated as a Long Term Care facility”, says Debbe Crandall, Director of STORM. “As such, it is our opinion that this application is out of conformity with the existing use policies of the Oak Ridges Moraine Plan and should be decided upon by the appropriate body. The CoA is not that body.

We agree that the decision and evidence regarding this development application are a matter of regional and provincial concerns and the proceedings should be open and transparent.

While we recognize that there is a need for additional and better elder care capacity throughout the Greater Toronto Area (including in King Township), we do not believe that this isolated sensitive site is appropriate for such a large enterprise. The site of the proposed development is of Public and Provincial interest.  These include a kettle lake, Mary Lake, and areas of high ecological value including a significant part of a large Provincially Significant Wetland in southern Ontario and a large Natural Core Area in the ORMCP.

We are asking concerned citizens across the Oak Ridges Moraine to join CCKT KRA, ORMLT, and STORM by supporting Councilor Schaefer’s motion. Please attend the council meeting on Monday May 15th at 6pm. Please consider making a written, virtual, or in person delegation to council. 


In December 2020 AFOI requested endorsement by Council for a Ministerial Zoning Order (MZO) on their Mary Lake property to enable the establishment of a long-term care facility, a hotel, a conference centre and a banquet hall to be built on a Natural Core Area and Countryside Area of the Oak Ridges Moraine.  This request was firmly rejected by King Township Council. At this time, it was recommended that AFOI, King Township representatives, and stakeholders enter into a roundtable discussion in order to establish potential future uses of the site. AFOI agreed to stop pursuing an MZO and enter a roundtable discussion.

Returning to the fore in December 2022, the highly contentious recommendation to affirm long-term care as a preexisting use of the Mary Lake site was used to justify a revised development application by the AFOI.  Under the ORMCP, if the AFOI is capable of legally proving long-term care as pre-existing use on the site prior to the enactment of the ORMCP, the conservation plan allows for minor development.  In its current state, the AFOI is proposing a major expansion to the current 400-seat shrine and monastery to include a 3-story LTC centre featuring 160 beds across 128 units within 40 meters of Mary Lake, as well as 150 parking spaces across 2 surface lots. 


Susan Walmer, Oak Ridges Moraine Land Trust, 416 435 5939
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


Public Participation:

 1)   VIEW THE MEETING live virtually at NO pre-registration required.

  • Send to the Township Clerk at by  the 12:00 p.m. (NOON) DEADLINE ON THE DAY OF THE MEETING.
  • Comments will form part of the public record and will be circulated to Council and Staff prior to the meeting.

 3)   SPEAK TO COUNCIL IN-PERSON (must pre-register)

  • Pre-register with the Clerks’ Division at 905-833-4068 or email no later than the 12:00 p.m. (NOON) DEADLINE ON THE DAY OF THE MEETING.  Provide your full name, address, telephone number and the item you wish to speak to along with a copy of your speaking notes.

4)   SPEAK TO COUNCIL VIRTUALLY (must pre-register)

  • By video (through a computer or app) or by phone live during the meeting by pre-registering with the Clerks Division at 905-833-4068 or email by the 12:00 P.M. (NOON) DEADLINE ON THE DAY OF THE MEETING. Provide your preference for joining – by video or phone – and your full name, address, telephone number and the item you wish to speak to along with a copy of your speaking notes. Upon receipt of your registration, you will receive a confirmation email with instructions for participating. All comments addressed to Council will form part of the public record.