Press Release: Mary Lake Development & ORMCP

Apr 14, 2023

For Immediate Release:

Proposed Mary Lake Development Fails to Conform with the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan

April 3rd, 2023 – King City, ON.   On April 19th, 2023, King Township’s Committee of Adjustment (CoA) is being asked to approve a set of minor variances that will allow for the development of a Long Term Care (LTC) Facility at Marylake Monastery by Augustinian Fathers (Ontario) Inc. (AFOI).

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, that the changes being requested do not constitute minor variances, and furthermore, that AFOI has yet to legally substantiate their claim that an  LTC facility existed on the subject lands prior to the creation of the ORMCP.

We are asking the Committee of Adjustment (CoA) to defer any decision on this matter while the AFOI is given the opportunity to provide legally substantiated evidence that a LTC facility existed on the subject lands prior to the creation of the ORMCP on November 15th, 2001 and that LTC has continued at the site since then.

We are asking that concerned citizens show their support for the continued protection of the Oak Ridges Moraine by requesting further notification and information regarding file 18-A-23 from the CoA (905-833-5231 ext. 4106; cofa@king.ca) and by attending and/or delegating at the CoA meeting being held online at 6 pm April 19th, 2023 (www.king.ca/cofameetings).  Requests to delegate need to be made by April 14th noon; letters to be submitted on same timing.

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 Provincially Significant Wetland in southern Ontario and a large Natural Core Area in the ORMCP.

By our interpretation of the ORMCP, this application does not conform to the ORM Conservation Plan, as required by the ORM Conservation Act and should therefore not be approved.

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 “major 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 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, experts was sought, such as the Ministry of Long Term Care. The local community has sought FOI requests but they have been stalemated and waiting for information to be released.

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.

Background:

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 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.

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.

 

Contact:

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