Granite Shores is holding an online public consultation for a massive new cottage and resort development it is proposing on Centre Lake utilizing Crown Land.

The development launched a website to engage the public on the project, which is proposed to include a 60-suite resort and wellness spa, 28 cottage lots and a commercial area tapping into the maple trees in the area. The developer seeks to utilize a 200-foot Crown reserve along the lake. The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry has agreed to move forward with disposing of the land after a consultation process.

Public engagement manager, Steven Megannety, said they are responding to some Highlands East council concerns at a Dec. 15 meeting about ensuring a strong public consultation process.

“We want to make certain that there’s robust consultation,” Megannety said. “We figured that the best way to do it was to put all the information out there and say, ‘here’s what the project is’.”

The website includes an FAQ and summary of the project. It also has a series of reports, including applications, planning, economic and environmental analysis. Megannety said they made the website of their own volition, separate from any government plans for consultation. They have already had more than 70 responses.

Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry regional planner, Pauline Capelle, said the provincial consultation on proposed policy amendment to consider the sale of the Centre Lake Crown reserve is still to come. She said the timing of the consultation is difficult to predict but it should be posted in the coming months. Anyone interested in being added to a mailing list for that can contact pauline.capelle@ontario.ca.

The developers estimate about $40 million in new economic activity in the region, 75 construction jobs and 30-50 new jobs after the project finishes. Megannety said they are also consulting with Indigenous peoples in the area and plan to allot a parcel in the commercial area for them.

Megannety said Granite Shores conforms to County and official plans. The developers are assuring public access to the lake will be maintained – with plans to create a new access road and improve the existing boat launch point. B

But councillors have said there is some public concern. Jacqueline Ziorjen has frequented the area for many years. She said the lake is an oasis and called it “heartwrenching” to see it developed.

“These wonderful places we can access are being developed, so they lose the charm,” she said.

She added even if Granite Shores can maintain accessibility, the extra traffic could mean the spot is never the same.

Regardless of whether the Granite Shores is successful in getting Crown Land, Megannety said they plan to go ahead with privately-owned land nearby. He also said a new County bylaw in the works to restrict development within 30 metres of shorelines would also not stop the development, though added they are watching the bylaw closely.

Megannety said they hope to be in the final planning stages by the end of the year.

“We’re trying to come up with some solutions that make sense,” he said. “Obviously for the development, but also for the community.”

The consultation is available at letstalkcentrelake.ca.

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