LETTER: PORT SYDNEY HOUSING PLAN NEEDS CHANGES
Letter to the Editor:
This is a synopsis of a letter of objection sent to both the Town of Huntsville and the District of Muskoka in the past year, to register my objection to the proposed 29-lot development on South Mary Lake Road in Port Sydney.
This development, known as Pine Haven Estates, is now before the district awaiting approval or revision, having been approved by Huntsville town council.
I am not so naive as to expect all residential development to be halted in our community, but I believe any new developments should be sustainable over the long term, and should meet existing district and municipality guidelines.
Most importantly, new developments should seek to benefit the community itself, and provide positive models for any such future applications.
I believe this proposal fails in all these respects.
Neighbour cites various concerns, including increased traffic
at dangerous South Mary Lake Road intersection,
lack of parkland and threat to Muskoka River water levels.
My property shares approximately 3,300 feet of common boundary with the proposed development, so this proposal raises several concerns, including:
• Potential interference with existing dug and drilled wells on surrounding properties: this has become a known problem in Port Sydney after recent developments, and continues to be a concern.
While the developer has repeatedly voiced his assurances that no existing wells will be affected by these 29 additional homes, he has so far refused to provide a written guarantee (as has been required in at least one other area development).
• Increased erosion, runoff and pollution: this entire section of Port Sydney drains either directly or through two main gullies into the Muskoka River, one of which is an MNR-designated cold water fish habitat.
• Increased effluent from 29 additional septic leaching fields.
• Lack of standards pertaining to private (“condominium”) roads:
In addition to burdening potential residents with the financial and administrative headaches associated with maintaining a private road in all weather conditions, the proposed road may not provide reliable, safe access for emergency services, police services, snow clearing, garbage pickup or school bus service.
• Lack of any planned provisions to improve or address traffic flow on South Mary Lake Road.
• No sidewalks or walking and cycling trails for local residents, as suggested by “Active Transportation” guidelines.
Many towns and cities are now placing additional emphasis on promoting healthy lifestyles in the community design stage. These are federal, provincial and district goals, and none are addressed here.
• No provision for green space, playground or park.
• No provision for walking or cycling access to shopping or to our village centre: there is no practical provision for access to shopping, to parks, the beach or the community centre other than by motorized vehicle via South Mary Lake Road.
If the district is serious about increasing the population density in communities like Port Sydney, they must be prepared to provide all residents—current and future—with the infrastructure and facilities expected in modern urban developments.
In summary, this proposal has little to add to the community of Port Sydney, other than increased traffic, pollution, erosion, and potential water problems.
The proposed development seeks to add 29 residences to the village, changing the character of the community, and setting an unsustainable precedent for future, inevitable developments in and around Port Sydney, while providing no long-term benefits other than tax revenue.
It swallows up 44 acres (17+ hectares) of wooded land without reserving or allotting any for public recreation.
I see no reason why the official District and Municipal plans should be amended to allow this development.