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Massive Minett project under the microscope

Posted: 2018-07-30 10:50:51 By: mattdriscoll

The future of a significant resort development along a stretch of Lake Rosseau will soon be largely in the hands of a steering committee drawn from members of the public.

Last week, the District put out a call for members of the public to join that committee, which will review the Resort Village of Minett. Ten years ago the project was zoned for up 3,000 units, although the developer said last week the actual project will be roughly half that size.    

The 13 member steering committee will be appointed to a 12 month term to review and make recommendations regarding Official Plan policies as they relate to the project.

“District and Township councils are focused on recruiting a highly engaged, open-minded, skills based steering committee comprised of individuals who can bring a mix of skills, expertise and perspectives to the review of Official Plan policies and recommendations, while also ensuring that the unique and diverse needs of the people and businesses of Muskoka are acknowledged and taken into account,” says John Klinck, District Chair.

The Minettt Village project was started by Ken Fowler after he purchased Cleveland’s House and 1,400 of adjacent property. On that property he built what is now known as JW Marriott The Rosseau Muskoka Resort & Spa. However, the resort went into receivership in 2009.

“We lost the JW when it went into receivership but we still have the 1,283 acres, we have the marina and Cleveland's House, the golf course and the abundance of land,” explains Ken Fowler’s son Doug, who took over after Ken passed away last year. “It was quite the endeavor when you think about acquiring a mile of frontage on Lake Rosseau. It took a long time and a lot of money, and it took its toll on him at the end of the day.”

Doug says his father eventually agreed to lower the density to 1,500 units, the size of the current project they have planned.

“It’s about 40% of the density that my father planned and was approved for 10 years ago,” says Doug. “We wanted to preserve a lot of the trees, and the water and all the things that make Muskoka what it is, so we really cut down on the density quite a bit. If you look at the number of units, we’re just a little bit over one unit per acre.”

Over the past year, the project has met stiff opposition from groups of concerned area residents and cottagers. Their issues ranged from traffic and density to lake safety and water quality.

Doug Fowler says they've already addressed many environmental issues with approval for a sewage treatment plant, and he’s confident they can reach some type of compromise with area residents.

“We're having some challenges with the local groups but we’ve requested some meetings with them to try and sort out what would be achievable economically, as well as for the whole area and the people who live and cottage in the area,” he says.

Steering committee applications will be accepted by the District until noon on Aug. 17.