Photo: Location of Proposed Muskoka Royale College
4/14/2022 0 Comments
Provincial Election June 2: The current Ontario Conservative government has launched its re-election bid with ruinous plans to build more highways, encourage urban sprawl and disregard the environmental protections of our most vulnerable and vital lands. What this means is less habitat for endangered species, more carbon emissions and increased threats to our waterways. The Ontario Auditor General, Bonnie Lysyk, said the Ford government isn’t following its own laws to consult the public on significant environmental issues and failed to protect species at risk from building and development.
Municipal Election October 24: Bracebridge current council and outgoing Bracebridge Mayor Graydon Smith have made devastating decisions over the past years that have affected our environment and character of our community. We need to build healthy, affordable, sustainable communities without encroaching on our endangered species, wetlands and natural habitats. Stop the Sprawl. Elect people who care about environmental values and make sound planning decisions.
Here is an update on a few of the latest developments proposed in Bracebridge.
DEVELOPMENT - (Ted) Jiancheng Zhou buys 470 acres for Upper Vista Development in Bracebridge
With prices ranging from $800,000 to $2.4 million this housing development proposed by Ted Jiancheng Zhou, a controversial billionaire with ties to the mainland China’s ruling elite, will do nothing to address the affordable housing shortage in Bracebridge. Who seems to benefit most is the developer, Zhou, who the Globe and Mail reported on as being of concern to Canadian security experts.
The Globe and Mail also reported on Jiancheng Zhou's political influence on municipal politicians. Source: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/politics/article-security-experts-question-political-influence-of-toronto-developer/.
The Fraser institute elaborated on the Globe's concerns about Chinese government influence in Canadian politics and singled out Ted Jiancheng Zhou, noting that "wealthy developer Ted Jiancheng Zhou, with deep ties to the Chinese Communist Party, has become a major donor to Canadian politicians at all levels of government, raising security concerns about Chinese influence in Canadian politics."
MUSKOKA ROYALE COLLEGE - 443 acres - George Chen to develop international boarding school
Serious concerns are here in Bracebridge as George Chen, a developer, plans to build Muskoka Royale College on 443 acres of the 830 acre parcel he owns. The massive institution, which would host 1800 students, would not only jeopardize the vulnerable ecosystem of wetlands and habitat surrounding Henry Marsh, but also put pressure on community services and amenities. As Muskoka Royale College doesn't have water access for its students and campers, there will be overcrowding at nearby Kirby Beach and Strawberry Bay Beach. Outgoing Mayor Graydon Smith and Town council approved the changes to the Official Plan and rezoning to allow this development to go forward despite requests by 5300 citizens for these much needed environmental and impact studies.
FORMER BRACEBRIDGE HIGH SCHOOL - 5.7 acres - Purchased by Chinese-Canadian billionaire Xiao Jianhua
This once beautiful historic site is simply a 15 year old eyesore and white elephant sitting empty although it is still being advertised by the developer it is slated for luxury condos. The latest owner is Lalu Upper Beach Holdings linked to vanished Chinese-Canadian billionaire, Xiao Jianhua. Global News shows a map with a pinned location in Bracebridge and states it was purchased in 2017 for 4.3 million by Lalu Canada/Unexus Group stating a value of 100 million. Read the full story here: https://globalnews.ca/news/8637896/xiao-jianhua-family-companies-150-million-toronto-real-estate/
571 MANITOBA STREET - ECONERGY GROUP -RETIREMENT HOME
Even though two developers from Gravenhurst told Bracebridge Town council and Mayor they were in opposition to this development as there is not enough demand for retirement housing in Bracebridge until years from now, it was still approved. During a meeting there were some questions from councilors regarding tree preservation on the site. Staff advised that there are strict tree preservation protocols in place and they will be ensuring that those criteria are met prior to construction of the facility. Fast forward to today - take a drive by and see the swath of trees that were removed, every single one of them. This shows the council's total lack of control on developers and the environment. It is shocking and unconscionable that this happens on the Town of Bracebridge's council, planners and Mayor's watch. They are the same council and Mayor that said they will protect the Henry Marsh and surrounding wetlands, and we just can't trust them.
Vote for candidates that will make smart land use decisions that are in the best interests of the public and protect the environment.
Without any further requirement, the District of Muskoka approved the Town of Bracebridge recommendations on the rezoning and Official Plan Amendment that would allow the Muskoka Royale College to be built. This, despite so many residents’ demands for an Ontario Wetland Evaluation Study to understand and protect the fragile environment, a Species at Risk study to protect endangered and threatened animals and so many unanswered questions about the impacts on Bracebridge.
SBEPG Inc. appealed the approval of the developer’s plan to the OLT (Formerly the OMB and LPAT).
It's been just over a year since the South Bracebridge Environmental Protection Group (SBEPG) was formed. Here is a look at what we have done in these 12 months:
Thanks for visiting our blog, and for caring about South Bracebridge's wetlands!
Check back for updates on the progress of our request to the Town of Bracebridge to require an Ontario Wetlands Evaluation before approving a proposed development right on top of our wetlands, and actions you can take to make sure this responsible step is taken.
Together, we can make sure that if these wetlands are provincially significant, they get classified as such and gain the protections that come with that designation.
HELP US IN OUR APPEAL AT OLT:
Please support our legal defense fund for the appeal at the Ontario Land Tribunal September 2022 to preserve these natural heritage lands.
CLICK HERE TO DONATE through OUR GoFundMe Muskoka Wetlands - Protect Our Species at Risk!