MOE launches Investigation into St. Rita at Mary Lake LTC Development

Feb 21, 2024

February 21, 2024 | By Jim Stewart

The Ontario Ministry of the Environment has launched an investigation into the proposed St. Rita at Mary Lake LTC development.

The investigation was requested by a coalition of King Township activist groups including Save the Oak Ridges Moraine (STORM), the Kingscross Ratepayers’ Association, and Concerned Citizens of King Township (CCKT).

Mary Muter, chair of the Kingscross Ratepayers Association, expressed concern about the implications of recent legislation by the Ford government: “The loss of democracy as a result of Ford’s Bill 23 has resulted in King Township citizens and taxpayers and our Council not having any say in major developments such as the LTC at Mary Lake within King Township. When this came to council on Feb. 8, 2020, our mayor promised the full council chamber of citizens and the many people listening that council was only voting to ‘receive’ the planning report and that the proposed LTC would be coming back to council for further public and council review and voting before site plan approval was granted. That did not happen, and planning staff approved site plan and issued a building permit without council oversight or public knowledge.” The veteran activist was succinct in her assessment of these skipped stages of consultation: “Tragic and scary.”

Muter also expressed concerns about the far-reaching implications of building in King City on the Greenbelt and Moraine: “The approval of this LTC outside the King City settlement area and on the Greenbelt and Moraine AND squeezed in between a sensitive kettle lake and designated provincially significant wetlands is sadly precedent setting.

“Other developers will now be able to use this example to build whatever they want wherever they want. King Township’s green hole in the donut is now turning brown.”

In addition to expressing these unsettling environmental metaphors, Muter disclosed that residents are concerned about the lack of process and the widespread damage to the Oak Ridges Moraine that is possible if a project like St. Rita at Mary Lake is approved for construction at its current site: “Democracy is on the line. Ford’s legislation is precedent-setting. It disrespects zoning bylaws and the Oak Ridges Moraine Plan. There are widespread concerns from Caledon to Uxbridge about damage to headwaters of rivers that run into Lake Ontario.”

Muter mentioned that there are many things residents of King Township can do to make a difference and protect the Oak Ridges Moraine from this kind of dangerous development: “Go to and explore the resources on the site. Learn more about news related to this investigation by the Ministry of the Environment. We should know by the end of March what the MOE investigation team had determined. Lastly, we would appreciate donations to support our advocacy. Go to ‘Small Change Fund,’ click on ‘Mary Lake,’ make a donation, and a tax receipt will be issued.”

In the coalition’s recent media release, Bruce Craig, chair of CCKT, emphasized the dangers of the proposed storm water treatment system to be used at St. Rita at Mary Lake: “It’s clear that the degradation of water quality will negatively impact these wetlands and the kettle lakes. The plans, acts, and regulations that were put in place to prevent these exact contaminants from harming and destroying sensitive ecosystems on the Moraine must be upheld. We’re appealing to the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks, and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry to uphold these important protections.”

In the same media release, Robert Brown, Chair of STORM, noted that “when Bill 23 stopped the Conservation Authorities from assessing environmental and hydrological aspects of development applications, local governments like King began making decisions on their own. At a delegation to King council in May 2023, we urged council and staff to hire qualified independent experts to review the hydrological and natural heritage reports submitted with the St. Rita development application. Unfortunately, it appears this request was not undertaken and now we see the outcome, which is posing significant risks to the natural heritage of the Moraine.”

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