Champlain residents strongly opposed to campground

Par Raymond Berthiaume
Champlain residents strongly opposed to campground
Campground issue

Zoning bylaw amendment Z-03-2022, if approved, would rezone a Duval Road property from Rural to Commercial Tourist Special Exception (CT-1). That would permit the development of a commercial tent and trailer park with 10 seasonal tent or trailer spaces combined with accessory outbuildings and vehicular parking, and would acknowledge the existing dwelling unit on the property.

The 11-hectare property is located on the corner of Duval Road and Aberdeen Road, with its frontage situated on Duval Road.

The application submitted May 22, accompanied by an environmental impact study, was deemed complete by township staff before being presented to council. The environmental impact study concluded there are no foreseen adverse impacts on the environment with the proposal.

Council has not made a decision on the proposed amendment as council members felt key information was necessary to make a decision, and many written submissions had not been received on the report. At the time the report was published, only two written submissions had been received. Since the report was published, council has received several more submissions. The final report to council will summarize and consider all comments received throughout the review of the application.

Provincial and Regional Policy

The 2020 Provincial Policy Statement promotes recreational tourism and other economic opportunities in rural areas while requiring proposed developments to be compatible with the rural landscape and can be sustained by rural services levels. In rural areas, the need for unjustified or uneconomical expansion of service infrastructure shall be avoided.

The Official Plan for the United Counties of Prescott and Russel (UCPR) designates these lands as a Rural Policy Area. Tourism commercial uses like motels, hotels and eating establishments as well as recreational commercial uses such as marinas, golf courses and campgrounds are permitted in Rural Policy Areas.

The UCPR Official Plan identifies natural heritage features throughout the region such as fish habitat and significant woodlands which were noted in this area. The landowner prepared and submitted an Environmental Impact Assessment in support of the proposed zoning by-law amendment.

Public Opposition

The public meeting is a requirement of the Planning Act was held to allow the public to voice their opinions, comments and concerns with regards to the proposed amendment.

A person or public body would otherwise have the ability to appeal the council’s decision to the Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT), unless they had not made an oral submission at the public meeting or a written submission before the bylaw is passed, in which case the person or public body would not be entitled to appeal the council’s decision.

Following a decision of council, there will be a 20-day appeal period as prescribed by the Planning Act.

Dozens of Champlain residents living in near the property presented themselves at the public council meeting to show their opposition to the proposed zoning by law amendment.

Geordie Maclaren, resident of the area, was in contact with many neighbours who had asked him to speak on their behalf. “I’m happy they postponed it until more information comes in,” said Maclaren. “They have to have a good bunch of reasons to stop it. What I’m worried is that they’re going to pass the small zoning bylaw, and then they’re just going to do another exemption and do a bigger campsite. It’s smoke and mirrors right now with the 19 lots, but it doesn’t take long for council to put another resolution to it.”

In the letters filed on report to council, residents of the area expressed many different concerns including environmental impacts, noise, traffic, waste management, light pollution, groundwater consumption, sewerage, and loss in property value. Comments we’re also made on the fear of future expansion.

Municipal councillors also expressed worries about the campground. Sarah Bigelow, councillor in the ward of Vankleek Hill, expressed her own concerns about further expansion. She also revealed the council’s fear in denying the zoning application.

“If this council were to vote against it, and they appealed and brought it to a court, we could lose,” said Bigelow.

Councillor Michel Lalonde had a very different stance. “There’s 50 people showing their opposition here tonight. I think that’s reason enough to deny it,” said Lalonde.

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