River Oaks Development update – December

VPRA letterhead

Hello once again dear members and friends,

It has been a while since our last newsletter and many of you have asked if there have been any developments.

Our association was very pleased with the fact that ALL candidates, whether elected or not, were in support of our position and all assured us that there will be no zoning change to allow such a high density development. The destruction of the woodlands, which support the adjacent sensitive wetlands was of deep concern to all that signed our petition. In total, we have gathered 4,488 signatures that endorse;

“I am opposed to Orillia City Council agreeing to a re-zoning change OR allowing higher density development ON OR NEAR the Provincially Significant Wetlands of Victoria Point.”

That is a great response from the residents of and visitors to Orillia. In addition, we have many additional on-line signatures on our web site.

Other than that, there really has been no news to report, thus no news update…… Until now.

It seems that the developer of the proposed seniors’ home had decided to wait for the new Orillia council to get settled in. He has now had some discussions with Mayor Clarke and our Ward 1 Councillor Ted Emond who subsequently seem to think very highly of Mr. Green as a developer.

It is our understanding that Mr. Green has discussed his ideas and intensions with Mayor Clark, Councillor Emond and select city staff. Although virtually unchanged from his previous public presentation, they seem to be re-considering their publicly stated commitment to support no zoning change.   A few members of the VPRA board were invited to the mayor’s office where we were brought up to date with the developer’s proposal. In essence, the developer has suggested that he wants to act on this file. As we pointed out in our last general meeting, he is proposing 3 options.

  1. Get a zoning change, allowing him to build a seniors home larger than Leacock Place,
  2. Proceed with a development under the current restrictive R2 zoning designation
  3. Sell the property

Backed up by planning staff, Mayor Clarke and Councillor Emond seem to feel that a zoning change may be preferable to an existing R2 development. Such a development could result in high density dwellings on the two subject lands.

Note: That is of course if the city allows the maximum coverage possible. It is totally within the city power to dictate appropriate land use and density for this property.

As before, our preferred option would be for the developer to sell the entire property to a conservancy. We would not only support that but would actively participate to help him find a buyer or sponsor.

Our second choice would be to allow him to build under the current zoning restrictions, but make these restrictions conform to, (as Councillor Emond said before the election) “I am opposed to any development that clashes with the style and scale of the local community.” The local community consists of single family homes on 50’ properties.

The third option (to allow the zoning change) was soundly rejected by all VPRA members at the general meeting. It was also rejected by 4,488 individuals that signed our petition. A zoning change is therefore not an option.

We give credit to Mayor Clarke, Councillors Emond & Valiquette and City staff for their attempt to facilitate a consensus. Getting people to work together was a mainstay of Mayor Clarke’s election platform.

A small group of your VPRA board also met with Mr. Green and John Riley (Nature Conservancy of Canada’s Science advisor), Mayor Clarke, Councillors Emond & Valiquette, Director of Development Services – Ian Sugden and Senior Planner Jeff Duggan.

Although the 3 options previously stated in this update are still very much in play, your board is proposing we shift our efforts in the short term to the original #1 option for all and see if we can have this land end up in the hands of a Conservancy. This will not be easy to accomplish as it has many variables including but not limited to;

  • Private Citizen donation with 100% value tax receipts from Conservancy
  • Large scale financial supporters
  • Conservancy to act as steward of the property
  • Partial/all land donation on behalf of the city and developer
  • Creativity and Political will by council
  • Decisiveness
  • Community support both VPRA and Orillia
  • Volunteers to help with communication and fundraising

Last year we had tremendous support for our cause and with recent activity on the file we require some additional support to collectively achieve our goals:

1. Board member volunteers.

2. Financial treasurer

3. Fund raising

4. Communication Writers

Thank you for your continued support.

And we want to hear from you — email us with your thoughts and questions!


Victoria Point Ratepayers Association

Copyright © 2015 Victoria Point Ratepayers Association, All rights reserved.


Our mailing address is:

3-200 Memorial Avenue, Suite 405, Orillia, ON L3V 5X6

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