LETTER: Reader: Irth intrudes upon protected lands

On May 19th, Council meets to receive information on the Irth Landscape Hotel and Spa.

I am writing to raise awareness of the implications of this project. This luxury resort extends into the undeveloped, environmentally sensitive, and provincially significant lands of Cressy’s Lost Lake wetland and forested escarpment – homeland to a myriad of birds, bats, amphibians, turtles and aquatic life and provincially protected coastal wetlands that lie within an Area of Natural and Scientific Interest (ANSI).

Ironically, the property is in the center of the protected Cressy Natural Core Area (NCA) in the County’s new Official Plan, awaiting provincial approval, and which forbids major commercial development in the NCA.

Irth proposes to re-zone the land from Rural to Tourist/Commercial. Once re-zoned, the land cannot be returned to its natural state. It opens this unique environment to a range of commercial development. Construction, as well as tens of thousands of guests per year, traffic, noise, light pollution, human disturbance, and sewage disposal will have dramatic impact and pose significant risk to habitat and wildlife. The resort is in crushing proximity to the Cape Vineyard biodynamic winery and farm – a working farm and a luxury resort make for challenging neighbours.

Residents living along County Roads 7 and 8 and Rock Crossroad, walkers and cyclists will be subject to thousands more vehicles on inadequate routes for the increased volume of traffic.

Contamination from the proposed septic bed is a significant risk to the vineyard and to neighbouring wells and water courses. Watertaking for the pools, spa and the hotel and cabins will have unknown impact on groundwater, wetlands and neighbouring wells given the fickle nature and recognized vulnerability of County aquifers. In short, Irth is not only incompatible with the adjacent natural environment, but with the surrounding rural neighbourhood as well. The project proponent and owner of Irth, purchased the land in 2017, surely with full knowledge of the constraints of EP areas, Rural Residential zoning, and of being adjacent to a provincially recognized Area of Natural and Scientific Interest. Ownership does not provide unfettered right to change the rules, nor to re-construct sensitive lands to one’s vision, for private commercial gain.

Since it’s unveiling in November 2018, Irth has been met with opposition. Neighbours and residents County-wide formed under the banner of PEC Save Our Heritage Lands (PECSohl) and have continued to put forward reasoned arguments against the project. Despite a slight downsizing to appease objections, the proposal still blatantly intrudes into the protected Escarpment and Coastal Wetland. Irth’s proposal is not a minor variance, but a major development causing transformational change of great magnitude within North Marysburgh and the County.

It will have destructive long-term implications and sets a dangerous precedent for development in the County’s Natural Core Areas. It’s simple…or it should be. Irth’s proposed luxury resort is in the wrong place. It’s time to step up and Say No to Irth. Please take a moment to see the beauty of this heritage landscape at pecsohl.ca

M. E. Martin on behalf of PECSohl