Lake Simcoe Mega-Marina Hearing Adjournment Denied: First Nations interests set aside as hearing plows forward
 
Alliston, Ontario – Environmentalists are profoundly disappointed the Ontario Municipal Board has dismissed a precedent-setting adjournment request in the BBP mega-marina hearing in Innisfil Ontario.
 
The Board will commence on Tuesday the controversial hearing into the 1,600 unit, 1,000 boat marina development project, despite a complete lack of aboriginal consultation in the face of demonstrated interest on the part of First Nations. 
Tim Gilbert of Gilbert’s LLP brought a motion to adjourn the hearing in order to address the fact that the developer failed to provide notice to and consult with First Nations; the proceedings are premature as the proponent lacks the necessary environmental approvals; the Premier of Ontario has recently announced the Lake Simcoe Protection Act; and, finally, the Moving Parties are unable to fully participate in the proceedings given the atmosphere of intimidation.
 In a decision released over e-mail at 11:15 am today, the board dismissed the motion to adjourn. Written reasons will be released prior to the commencement of the hearing on Tuesday August 21 at 10 am.
 “We’re shocked that a provincial Tribunal could dismiss our concerns without even letting us become a Party,” said Luc Lainé, cultural heritage liaison for the Huron-Wendat in Ontario. “We told the OMB the developer’s consultant spoke to imposters and not our Nation, and they went ahead and endorsed this process anyway. The Supreme Court of Canada is very clear about the duty to consult First Nations; somebody should tell Minister Gerretsen and the OMB.”
The Huron-Wendat Nation, far from receiving adequate notice to allow for meaningful consultation, are still awaiting a response from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing to letters sent by their Grand Chief on July 25 and August 7.
The various Parties to the hearing are considering whether to appeal the decision to dismiss the motion in the Ontario Superior Court, and may seek an order staying the proceedings. Justice Lax recently granted leave to appeal a decision of the OMB for not following its rules in the Queen West Triangle OMB hearing.
“The OMB has endorsed the practice of treating First Nations as second class citizens,” said Dr. Rick Smith, Executive Director of Environmental Defence.  “A court needs to review the Board’s decision that Rogers Cable and Canada Post get full hearing rights, but you can make up the rules for First Nations as you go along.”
The Board’s decision to dismiss the motion to adjourn also left parties wondering at the logic behind proceeding with planning approvals for a project premised on a marina which has yet to receive any approvals from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.
“The OMB is putting the cart before the horse with this decision,” said Don Avery, President of the Innisfil District Association. “The developer is years away from getting the marina approved, but the Board wants to charge ahead under rules everyone knows are going to change in favour of the Lake.”
Additionally, the premise of fractional ownership of the resort has left Parties shaking their head in wonder. 
“Designating this urban settlement a ‘resort’ is exploiting a blatant loophole in the Official Plan,” said Natalie Helferty, Director of Conservation Policy, Ontario Nature. “This loophole was closed by the Greenbelt on the other side of Lake Simcoe two years ago,” she added.
 The Ontario Municipal Board hearing resumes Tuesday, August 21, 2007 at 10:00 a.m. at the Nottawasaga Inn in Alliston, Ontario (Room 41), 6015 Highway 89; directions available online:  http://www.nottawasagaresort.com/map.htm). The hearing is expected to last for four months.
Campaign Lake Simcoe is a partnership of Environmental Defence, the Rescue Lake Simcoe Coalition, and Ontario Nature (http://www.campaignlakesimcoe.ca/)
 
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For more information, or to arrange interviews, please contact:
Mike Layton, Environmental Defence, (416) 323-9521 ext. 257
Don Avery, Director of the Rescue Lake Simcoe Coalition, (705) 436-3877; (416) 997-7836 (cell)
Natalie Helferty, Director of Conservation Policy, (416) 444-8419 x 273
Luc Lainé, cultural heritage liaison for the Huron-Wendat in Ontario, (418)-580-6205