Geranium Corporation Welcomes OMB decision on Big Bay Point Resort



    INNISFIL, ON, Dec. 14 /CNW/ - After earning widespread support over five
years of public meetings and design workshops, Geranium Corporation today
welcomed the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) ruling that clears the way for the
Big Bay Point Resort. The OMB decision comes one month after the conclusion of
more than three months of public hearings, which began August 8th and
concluded on November 14th.
    The resort proposal has earned the support of the Town of Innisfil, the
County of Simcoe, the province of Ontario and the largest local ratepayers
groups in Innisfil and local environmentalists.
    "For economic reasons, this is a great decision for the Town of Innisfil
and the County of Simcoe, but more importantly, it's also a great
environmental victory for Lake Simcoe, and for those people who, like myself,
are truly committed to improving the quality of the Lake," noted Geranium
president Earl Rumm.
    In addition to setting aside one-third of the resort property as an
environmentally-protected area, qualified professional scientists have
conducted repeated, extensive peer-reviewed environmental studies over the
last five years, which have proven beyond any doubt that the resort will help
improve the water quality of Lake Simcoe by reducing the amount of phosphorus
entering the lake.
    The resort itself will be built to the high environmental standards of
LEED, the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program.
    Geranium will also pay the approximately $10 million cost of extending
sewer service from the Alcona Waste Water Treatment plant to the resort. That
extension will give 1600 existing homeowners now on septic systems, and a
private golf course whose owners opposed the resort, the opportunity to make
the environmentally responsible choice to get off septics and onto sewers.
    "Geranium looks forward to the upcoming consultations promised by Premier
McGuinty when he announced his intention to introduce a Lake Simcoe Act. As
environmentally progressive and responsible developers, we have led by example
and will be encouraging both existing and future residents around the lake, as
well as other developers, to 'walk the talk' when it comes to protecting Lake
Simcoe," concludes Rumm.


    
                       Big Bay Point Resort Fact Sheet
                       -------------------------------
    

    Size and location: 239 hectares (590 acres) in the north eastern part of
the Town of Innisfil on Big Bay Point between the shores of Kempenfelt Bay and
the open waters of Lake Simcoe, bounded by Lake Simcoe to the east, the 13th
Line to the south, and Big Bay Point Road to the north and west. The central
portion of the property, 87.5 hectares (216 acres) in size, is to be
designated an Environmental Protection Area.

    Marina: The site currently includes a 375-slip marina which is no longer
in operation. When re-developed and enlarged, the new marina component will
contain a maximum of 1,000 boat slips.

    Accommodation: A maximum of 2,000 resort accommodation units will be
constructed, consisting of 400 hotel units and 1,600 resort units, all of
which are subject to occupancy restrictions and none of which may be
permanently occupied.

    Golf Course: A championship 18-hole golf course designed by Doug Carrick
will be built and maintained to the stringent environmental standards of
Audubon International.

    The process that led to approval: During the almost five year approval
process that began in 2002, both the County of Simcoe and the Town of Innisfil
retained peer reviewers in various technical disciplines to assist their
respective staff in assessing the resort proposal and the technical materials
submitted in support of it. This resulted in a significant body of reports
both from the staff and peer reviewers and documents a careful, thorough and
intense level of scrutiny of all aspects of the project. The review process by
the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, the County and the Town also
involved receiving and analyzing comments by other public authorities and
agencies, including the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority, which has
no objection to the development proposal, provided that its conditions are
satisfied. The proposal has the support of the democratically elected
representatives of the Province, Town and County. The public had a full
opportunity to participate in the planning approval process, including the
hearing before the Ontario Municipal Board. Public input has been received and
considered by the Province, Town and County and the expressed concerns of
members of the public have been specifically addressed.

    Provincial government involvement: The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and
Housing, (MMAH), was the lead ministry and it consulted with and relied on the
advice of the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Ministry of the
Environment. MMAH's agreement to support the development proposal was not
forthcoming until Geranium produced satisfactory studies and reports on
matters of provincial interest.

    Economic Benefits: The Big Bay Point Resort will have a wide range of
positive economic impacts, including:

    
    -   3600 person-years of employment during construction
    -   $1.2 million in building permit fees
    -   $17.7 million in development charges for the Town, County and school
        boards
    -   940 permanent jobs upon completion, making the resort the Town's
        largest employer by a factor of more than 4 times
    -   $50 million in purchases of goods and services, (appliances,
        furnishings, etc), as a result of the initial sale of units
    -   $35 million in annual retail spending by owners, renters and visitors
        once the resort is operating, part of which will flow to Town
        businesses outside the resort
    -   In terms of municipal services and expenditures, it will operate on a
        fiscal surplus at both the Town and County levels
    -   It will help meet the economic objectives outlined in by the province
        and the county

    Environmental Protection and Benefits: The resort will ensure protection
of natural heritage features as well as water quality and quantity. The resort
is required to meet the same tests for the protection of the environment as
those set out by the province and the county. The resort offers protection,
enhancements and benefits that go beyond those required including:

    -   the preservation of an Environmental Protection Area containing
        87 hectares of woodlands and wetlands
    -   a much more stringent policy protection for the Environmental
        Protection area than permitted under the previous "Greenlands"
        designation applicable to these lands, which would have permitted
        farming, golf courses, resorts and housing; none of these uses will
        now be permitted under the new designation
    -   the Environmental Protection Area will be required to be transferred
        to public ownership or be subject to other protection measures such
        as a conservation easement
    -   Geranium will be required to prepare a Planting or
        Reforestation/Compensation Plan prior to any development occurring
    -   Geranium will be required to replace every hectare of woodland
        removed from its lands with a minimum of two hectares of forested and
        reforested land to the satisfaction of the Town, County and
        Conservation Authority, either through plantings on Geranium lands
        and/or through the conveyance to a public authority of off-site
        forested lands
    -   a substantial reduction in phosphorus loading to the marina basin and
        Lake Simcoe, up to 54% less than caused by existing uses on the site,
        thus meeting or exceeding the lake-wide reduction target encouraged
        by the Lake Simcoe Environmental Management Strategy, (LSEMS)
    -   Audubon International certification for construction and operation of
        the golf course. This entails the highest standards of environmental
        performance in the golf industry. It provides external third party
        guidance and review of all environmental measures introduced during
        the design and operation of the golf course. After certification,
        annual follow-up water monitoring and reporting continues for the
        lifetime of the course
    -   Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification
        for the resort itself
    -   Development and operation of the marina in accordance with the "Clean
        Marine" program, which is a tool kit of best management practices for
        marina operations. Like the Audubon certification, the Clean Marine
        program includes a third-party audit and it is a program designed for
        Ontario marinas and deals with federal and provincial regulations
    -   A net gain in the amount of available fish habitat; over 3 times that
        which is currently present, along with an opportunity to improve the
        quality of the fish habitat from the existing situation
    -   Use of best management practices for stormwater management, including
        pumping stormwater from the marina village to a stormwater treatment
        pond within the golf course area that can then be used for golf
        course irrigation
    -   Use of "LID", (low impact development), techniques, including a new
        land use and engineering design approach that will preserve natural
        heritage areas and minimize pollutants
    -   A commitment to superior sewage treatment using advanced phosphorus
        removal technologies
    -   An amphibian and reptile habitat enhancement program which will be
        reviewed by the Town, County and Province
    -   Requirements for environmental stewardship and education, including
        production of an educational brochure for all purchasers, users and
        visitors to the resort

    Additional Benefits: In addition to the economic and environmental
benefits, the following will also be achieved:

    -   increased recreational and cultural amenities for residents of
        Innisfil
    -   improved transportation networks, including a public collector road
        through the project which will provide a second point of access for
        Big Bay Point residents
    -   the addition of an emergency vehicle connection at the terminus of
        Maple Grove Road, providing an important emergency access for the
        residents to the south of Big Bay Point
    -   the extension of municipal wastewater services to make them
        accessible to cottages and homes within the designated shoreline
        areas and the Big Bay Point area that are currently on private
        services, thus providing even greater reductions in phosphorus
        loading into Lake Simcoe
    -   the extension of municipal water services to the same area described
        above
    -   the donation of land for and construction of a civic facility for a
        use such as a fire station in the southwest part of the resort lands
    





For further information:

For further information: Jim Maclean, (416) 236-6082

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