Protecting the Natural Environment
The lands on which the development is proposed are very physically diverse, and support many different natural features, including several wetlands, small watercourses, forested areas and rock barrens. They also include areas of steep slope. A large portion of Henry Marsh, a locally/regionally important wetland, is located on this property.
An Environmental Impact Study has been prepared to determine where development should and should not occur on this property. Biologists have completed surveys on the property on over 25 separate occasions, including 16 occasions in 2017 – 2019, to inform the Environmental Impact Study and subsequent addendums. That study contributed to that decision to keep the development footprint small, to total area of approximately 15% of the property. This has allowed wetlands and watercourse features, and associated buffer areas, to be maintained as large Environmental Protection and Open Space blocks. It similarly affords protection of much of the woodland areas and features such as rock barrens and ensures that the development of this property addresses all applicable municipal and provincial environmental policies.
Working with the project architect, the environmental consultant on the project has helped identify the development precincts and access roadways which work with existing terrain conditions and minimize requirements for blasting, grading and tree removal, all with the intent of providing a school setting which celebrates the beauty and diversity of its natural setting.
The owner of these lands is committed to working with the Muskoka Conservancy on the long-term protection of Henry Marsh.
Of importance to note is that environmental scrutiny of this project does not end once the requested Official Plan and Zoning By-law Amendments have been granted. Both the Environmental Impact Study and Servicing Report include many recommendations needing to be addressed as part of the required Site Plan Control process for each stage of development. The Site Plan Control process will include procedures to ensure those recommendations are addressed. Town Staff will be working with the owner and his project team through the Site Plan Control process, with an additional commitment by the owner to continue to work with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks, and District of Muskoka, in ensuring all of the final project details are environmentally and technically sound.
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