Information including a map showing setback distances along Lake Minnewasta is discussed at the September 5 MSTW hearing into the redesignation of land for development near the lake. (LORNE STELMACH; Morden Times)
A plan that could clear the way for development near Lake Minnewasta in Morden came back before the regional planning body this past week.
The proposal before the MSTW (Morden - Stanley- Thompson - Winkler) Planning District is to amend the zoning bylaw to redesignate limited development neighbourhood areas (N-1) on the northwest and east sides of the lake to neighbourhood policy areas (N) and allow for future serviced residential development.
A public hearing September 5 gave the public another chance to review the plans including recommendations from a study that has set out restrictions and conditions under which the development near the lake could go ahead.
Although the level of vocal opposition appeared to have dissipated, the dozen or so who did turn out were no less concerned about the potential long term impact and wanted to see that conditions set out in the study would adequately address areas of concern.
“Some of them will provide some comfort to the people who are here ... in answer to the questions they had ... some of them may not answer it entirely ... or you may not be certain it does answer it,” said MSTW board chair Henry Siemens in his introduction. “For that reason, we wanted to have this open house.”
A key factor and question centred around the setback distances for development near the lake. The study recommendations basically set out three setback lines or zones.
One which was referred to as the ‘drop dead’ line or zone would allow no development within 100 metres of the high water mark.
A second area set out in the geo-technical study would require a range of restrictions and agreement before any possible development would be considered - from the 100 metre mark up to about a 365 metre setback.
For the purposes of redesignating the land to allow open development, the setback line would be around that 365 metre mark.
And officials noted that the latter development setback line also takes into account the long term impact of erosion.
Q & A session
Paul Goosen suggested there is a growing concern in the area about increased loss of habitat and agricultural land as well, citing the impact on threatened species like the Bobolink.
He encouraged local leaders to consider development in a broader context to take into account these issues.
“The environment also has many positive spinoffs ... even economically.”
Irvin Wiebe, a Morden council rep. on the MSTW board, suggested there were a number of recommendations that address these conservation issues.
Peter Cantelon, manager of the planning district, also noted Cliff Greenfield of the Pembina Valley Conservation District identified a number of issues raised in the study where it could play a role.
“He identified a number of existing initiatives that the district is already undertaking that he believes a lot of these recommendations will fall right into.”
Stick to the science
“We said right from the beginning that we would abide by the science,” said Mayor Ken Wiebe in speaking in favour of the change in the land designation.
Later in response to a question about giving consideration to extending the development setback further, Wiebe seemed to rule that out entirely in saying “we will support the lines where they are.”
Hugh Lumgair suggested the land eyed for development is of marginal agricultural value so he spoke in favour of the change.
Deanna Baker suggested the development setback should be set further from the lake. The study’s authors may have sound scientific reasons for setting the setback distance, but they don’t live here, she countered.
“We’re confident in them (the setback distances) because they built safety factors into them,” commented Siemens.
Greg Loeppky spoke against the change because he maintained we can’t fully see what the long term impact will be on the surrounding green space. And although there may be much talk in Morden about its green space, he suggested there is no real green space to be found in most of the new development.
“We need to see the value in green space ... and we need to develop that for the long term.”
Sally Unrau echoed that sentiment, suggesting she fears there will be problems arise in the future for the city and the lake area.
Brian Nedohin agreed that he wanted to see that this is done properly but suggested that “due diligence has been done.”
In the end, the MSTW board gave the change second reading, so it will now go to the province for further consideration.
Anyone who had either been a proponent or objector will receive notice and be given 14 days to make further presentations to the minister.
The process would then wait on the province to consider its options - ranging from giving its approval with no conditions, with conditions or not approving the amendment as is. It could potentially be sent to the Manitoba Municipal Board for a further hearing.
A number of changes were made to the original bylaw as a result of the study with likely the most significant change being a requirement for development to be set considerably further back from the lake.
The report first presented at a public meeting in June presented a range of recommendations.
They covered a variety of factors from protecting green space and setbacks from the lake to monitoring water quality and levels to restricting power boats.
Some of the key recommendations of the report included:
- Establishment of larger development setback lines.
- Development restrictions in the areas near the top of the slope.
- Develop an integrated watershed management plan for the Dead Horse Creek watershed.
- Establish an advisory committee for Lake Minnewasta management.
- All new development to be connected to municipal water, sewer and drainage systems.
- Expand Colert Beach and green space adjacent to Lake Minnewasta.
- Develop comprehensive area plans for Lake Minnewasta planned development.
- Study potential impacts on Lake Minnewasta caused by increased water consumption.
- Regulation and monitoring of power boats on Lake Minnewasta.