Transcribed Q&A's From The Community Open-House
The top cabins will require occasional motor vehicle access, possibly by heavy vehicles, to allow, for example, occasional pump-out of septic systems; and to allow for routine deliveries and physical maintenance (e.g. laundry delivery, routine maintenance such as roof/plumbing repairs/renewal, etc.). Apparently, any such vehicle access is to be accomplished via an easement agreement through the property at 501 Rock Cross Road. In other words, servicing and maintaining the 7 cabins will rely on the future owners of 501 to maintain the access.
Is this really adequate to ensure proper and safe servicing of these presumably expensive cabins?
Marko Cekic- “Yes, it is adequate. A legal easement would be obtained over 501 Rock Crossroad, that would then run with the title of the property. 501 Rock Crossroad is currently in the same ownership as the rest of the site, so it is owned by the team. But should that ever be sold, the easement would run with the land ensuring that future access is always provided.”
Shouldn't perhaps the property at 501 Rock Cross Road be considered an integral and necessary part of the overall development, and therefore also be subject to appropriate rezoning and site plan approval?
Marko Cekic – “No, in our opinion, the only thing right now is that access easement, so an access road to those cabins. No other development of hotels, cabins, that kind of stuff is being proposed for that site. So it's not deemed appropriate to go to the rezoning and official plan amendment process at this time.”
If TC zoning is given to the property, then that opens the door for a wide range of potential commercial development that could be more intrusive and have more impacts on nearby properties and the natural environment than your current IRTH proposal. This is a reasonable concern that many of us in the local area have. I would therefore like to take the temerity of asking:
Once you have TC zoning in place, might you just flip the property?
Marko Cekic – "The uses under the TC zone beyond what’s actually proposed by this development, there’s only of a couple extra ones; so we're talking miniature putting, a driving range, those kind of things. Very few uses that aren’t actually on our site. There’s no way that this is proposed to be a golfing range or anything like that. In theory, the property can always be sold. However there is the Site Plan Control process. So if anyone wants to go above and beyond what’s being proposed here, once the TC zone is in place, will have to go through the same Site Plan Control process. Which is through The County. Will need approval. So you have to supply all of your detailed site plan drawings etc. So someone can’t just go in, and buy the property and put whatever they want on the property. Any form of commercial development is subject to site plan control."
Scott Ferguson – “So they would have to go through the same similar process you’re going through right now?”
Marko Cekic – “That is correct.”
Installation of the initial three wells on the property is already placing a strain on neighboring water resources. How many additional wells are planned for the development?
Marko Cekic – “No additional wells are planned for the development. The current three test wells were only pumped during the Hydrogeological testing and are not being used for anything else at this time. The Hydrogeological Assessment demonstrated that the site and the proposed use can be supplied with water from local aquifers without any negative impacts on neighbouring wells.”
Increased traffic to the area in order to reach the IRTH property will most certainly negatively impact what is already a fragile infrastructure (roads). How do you plan to mitigate these concerns?
Marko Cekic – “The Traffic Brief that was prepared demonstrated that the roads are operating at a very very high capacity right now. That even with the added traffic from the development they will still operate in a very good fashion, well above the need, for any traffic signals or stop signs or anything of that nature. I would just like to note also that the traffic counts were taken in peak of summer, middle of July 2018. So they are accurate to what the area would experience in the summertime although the report was completed in April 2020 the counts were obtained from the county and took place in July 2018.”
Is there anything you should say about the fragile infrastructure, the existing fragile infrastructure?
Marko Cekic – “I don’t think so at this time. The fragile infrastructure was not considered or noted of that nature in the Traffic Brief. I will note that this area is a designated scenic route so the county does anticipate traffic in this area, tourist traffic in this area. It's not something that’s not anticipated and it is in very close proximity to a tourist corridor as well.”
Your approach for public consultation is releasing 400 pages of information on your newly launched website to a community with limited access to internet and preselected questions. How do you plan to complete your application and do a proper public consultation?
Marko Cekic – “We understand again that this is not the most ideal way to do this public consultation process. We did hold an initial open house in person. We did put all the studies that are currently completed in draft form online. We will put additional studies on the website following our next submission. If the internet is an issue, these are public documents, so the public can go to The County and request copies of any studies or reports submitted with this application. We will continue to be as open as possible. And also the legislated required public meeting held by The county will still take place at some point in the future.”
Let me do a follow-up, if it becomes safe again for us to meet in person will you continue to have zoom meetings or will you return to have opportunities for in person meetings with the community?
Marko Cekic – “The intent would be for in person meetings, like I had mentioned. There was already one schedule for April 29th but was cancelled in advance due to current situation. The one thing I cannot comment on is how The County will hold their public meeting. The province has permitted virtual public meetings. But again, that’s a little bit away and we don’t know what’s going to happen there.”
Being your located next to an agricultural business and the county’s official plan doesn’t support development beside agricultural. How do you intend to proceed with development?
Marko Cekic – “Just to clarify the agricultural business beside the proposed use is a vineyard. The OP is more geared toward ensuring that compatible land uses are located in close proximity. That you don’t necessarily have residential dwellings right next to a large cattle operation and things of that nature. There are no barns in the area there’s nothing that triggered a MDS(?) report or calculation to be completed and we’re also screening with natural berms and trees to try and prevent, even just visual impacts. But the Official Plan doesn’t actually go against this, not a sensitive land use next to an agricultural use. That’s more for ensuring sensitive land uses are compatible with agricultural uses such as barns etc.”
Road traffic study was completed in April 2020. How do you feel that a traffic study that took place during Covid travel restrictions, and in the shoulder season of tourism properly show that our roadways can support the increased volume of traffic? _
Scott Ferguson – “You said they were, the date of the report was April 2020”
The land you purchased was clearly zoned Rural Residential with environmental constraints and considerations
Marko Cekic – “To clarify the site was never zoned Rural Residential, the site is zoned RU 2, RU 3 and EP. As noted in the environmental section we’re not reducing that environmental protection area we’ve simply delineated the boundaries more clearly with ground truthing, but we're not endangering that environment.”
Your Site Plan indicates an area for septic tile beds for the cabins on top of the escarpment. What happens here if you have to move those cabins back away from the top edge?
Marko Cekic – “This type of discussion and design really happens at the Site Plan Control stage. Right now we’re demonstrating that there is area for cabins, where we would like to have them and that there is an area for septic tile beds to go but should this require any movement away from top of edge for any other reason that will be dealt with in the detailed design at the site plan stage. Right now we're really looking at, can the site support the use, how does that look, here is a site plan that shows that it can, but the details come out at site plan control.”
How do you plan to manage the septic and disposal of grey water for the high volume of anticipated guests and how will this impact the ground water and surrounding area?
Marko Cekic – “The important thing to note here is that the Hydro Geological has noted that the water that will be taken from the site will not impact the surrounding area. The team is looking to implement water conservation techniques, particularly for grey water so as not to waste water. They are looking at initiatives to entice guests to conserve water as well. I do want to hit on the point that the Hydro Geological investigation has said that the site can be supported by the water in the aquifers without negative impacts. Some of the grey water will be conserved and the remaining grey water may go into the septic system that will be designed for that use.”
Servicing the top cabins - Your site plan indicates an area for septic tile beds for the cabins on top of the escarpment. What happens here if you have to move those cabins back away from the top edge?
Marko Cekic – “Again, this type of discussion and design really happens at the Site Plan Control stage. Right now, we are demonstrating that there is an area for cabins where we’d like to have them and that there is an area for septic tile beds to go. But should this require any movement away from the top of the edge or for any other reason that will be dealt with in the detailed design at the Site Plan stage. Right now, we are really looking at can the site support the use, how does that look, here’s a site plan that shows that it can but the details come at Site Plan Control.”
How do you plan to manage the septic and disposable grey water for the high volume of anticipated guests and how will this impact the groundwater and surrounding area?
Marko Cekic – “The important thing to note here is that the hydro-geo has noted that the water that will be taken by the site will not impact the surrounding area. The team has looked at and is looking to implement water conservation techniques, particularly for grey water, so as not to waste water, they’re looking at initiatives to entice guests to conserve water as well. But I do want to hit on the point that the hydrogeological investigation has said that the site can be supported by the water in the aquifers without negative impacts. The grey water, some of it will be conserved and the remaining grey water may go into the septic system which will be designed for that use. So it’s not just tossed wherever.”
Is Jonathan Kearns part of the project and development?
Jonathan Kearns – “Jonathan Kearns, namely myself, I am not part of the ownership team, I am the Architect of Record for the project and very firmly committed to staying on board with this team through to the very end of the development.”
How will you commit to preserving the dark sky environment crucial to the natural habitat and presently enjoyed by the surrounding neighbouring community?
Jonathan Kearns – “We will work with our engineers to design the lighting so that it is all downward orientated. This, together with the fact that we are designing in the passive house mode, means a lot of our window openings will be shaded from the sun in the summer and that extensive shading or roof overhang also adds to the mitigation of any night sky pollution. Furthermore, the guests coming to The IRTH Hotel will be looking to see the night sky, also, every bit as much as any of the local residents. So, we are very firmly committed to not interfering with that pleasure. Preserving the night sky is one of our objectives.”
In provincial parks 24/7 supervision is in place to prevent trespassing and disturbing behaviour. What is your plan to address these potential problems?
Melanie Hazell – “Trespassing is a concern and we are not a provincial park, we are private property. We’ve designed the site in such a way to contain where people are and where traffic is. We will have staff on site 24/7. So we feel the combination of those things will prevent trespassing. We’re committed to creating a resort, a retreat where people can be reflective and very meditative and not be surprised by any unplanned activities or people.”
You are aware a significant number of residents have limited internet capabilities. Please explain how you will gather community feedback and how will you consult with the community to clearly understand their concerns?
Scott Ferguson – “This has already been addressed. As advertised in The Picton Gazette, there are written materials available through Prince Edward County that you want to return to in person meetings when it is safe to do so.
Alex Daprato - "With the evolution of the website, we will continue to try and figure out new ways to gather feedback from people and present that information so it is open, open source and available to everyone. Just one of the tools.”
COVID-19 has impacted how businesses, local and worldwide, conduct their day to day activities. How do you anticipate your business will have to change in order to protect your clients/customers, your staff, and the local community in this new world?
Melanie Hazell – “Jonathan is actually going to answer this but before he does, I’d just like to say that I think that, not I don’t think, I know that COVID-19 for many, many people has highlighted the need for connection to nature. So we are even more committed to our concept, our philosophy in light of COVID. Jonathan.”
Jonathan Kearns – “in addition, frankly, I think Prince Edward County may be a very desirable place to be generally because of the lower population and great space available to people. At The IRTH, there is a tremendous amount of space available to allow social distancing and I think until a vaccine is developed and available, social distancing is most likely to be the predominant strategy. However, we’re also working in the health care sector and we have developed a strategy whereby passive house equals passive health because the way you design buildings in the passive house mode means you are never re-circulating air, you are providing constant filtered fresh air to every unit of habitation in the building complex whether they be cabins or rooms or other collective zones of the building. So it means there is a vastly reduced risk of any infection spread. Without rambling on with this too much, one of the key issues is relative humidity and when the relative humidity is very low the risk of infection is much greater. In a passive house model of building, you can actually have a level of higher relative humidity without causing any condensation of the building envelope. So it is very pleasing to find this methodology is also pandemic resistant and will fit into a very technically advanced way of protecting people from the COVID-19.”
Alex – “when we are looking at the day to day business operations, we are going to be tuned into all the changes in the hospitality sector and the best practices in 3 years time.”
What are your plans for the existing snowmobile trail on your property?
Melanie Hazell- “There was a past agreement with the snowmobile association to have a trail on the property. No such agreement has been in place with ATV’s. I would imagine now folks have seen the site plans and heard about the land restoration plan, you see that having external snowmobile and ATV traffic is not compatible with land restoration or what we are creating for guests in terms of nature immersion.”
Will local people continue to have access to the trail on your property?
Melanie Hazell – “We welcome local folks to partake in guided forest therapy walks. I know people are immersed in nature in The County, but a forest therapy walk is a different kind of nature immersion which we would welcome folks to experience.”
How do you plan to address the tick issue?
Melanie Hazell – “Ticks are an issue with global warming. Through communication, guest communication we hope to handle this issue and ensure our guests are aware of tick problems and talk about how to do that. As a certified Forest Therapy Guide, one of the first things we are trained in is “awareness’s” - awareness of ticks or whatever other dangers may be lurking which people need to be aware of. So, it’s uppermost in terms of our mind and safety for guests is absolutely critical for us.”
Alex Daprato – “2 other things. By design, our site is architected in a way that, while yes there is this immersion in nature, the trails themselves are going to be cleared and people are going to be regulated to them so they are not going to be traipsing through grasses and bush. Going back to the restoration program, the hope is a healthy ecosystem that is incredibly biodiverse, has natural predators. Normally, when invasive species come in and take over an area that’s when you start to see the problematic insects come through. Ticks are something that are a major problem throughout all of North America. The hope for us is that when we create a place that is incredibly biodiverse, it might just dip that tick population a little bit more because there is that much more life and diversity happening around it.”
Are you able to provide assurances to County Council and local property owners that you are in this for the long haul, and that you believe this is a viable and sustainable business enterprise?
Melanie Hazell – “We have been at this now for 3 ½ years and the longer we are at it, the more committed we are. So, we are absolutely dedicated to moving this forward.”
What is the purpose of the entrance at Rock Crossroad?
Melanie Hazell – “The purpose of the road is access to the cabins on the upper escarpment and access to my home, which I ultimately hope to have sooner than later.”
How would guests access the cabins planned for the land off of Rock Crossroad?
Alex Daprato – “there would be three main methods. First, would be a trail and a staircase from the main lodge on the lower escarpment up to the upper escarpment. We’re going to also have electrical, machine light buggies to take people up to their cabins and the third method is people have the option to drive their cars to the upper escarpment and park in a designated area at the top of the escarpment so they can access their cabins.”
Are there still plans for maintenance buildings and service quarters to be built on the land off of Rock Crossroad? What other uses are planned for this land?
Melanie Hazell – “In a previous iteration of our plan, we were locating staff accommodation and service buildings on that property and based on feedback from our community consultation, November 2018, we rethought having those buildings and those have been removed. We’re not going to have any staff accommodation at this point. The only thing which will be on that property, is my eventual home.”
What is your plan for waste management? I think the focus here is on garbage.
Alex Daprato – “I think for us, we are absolutely going through the process for zero plastics, we don’t want any plastics on site and then reducing waste as much as possible. We are really working from a philosophy of cradle to cradle, so whatever we use, we are able to go through a cycle of reuse, however we can leverage being able to keep things on site and reusable, the food, having biodegradable materials is what we are looking to have.
Cradle to cradle is a program, rather, it is a philosophy that around anything that I start with and use that thing is able to go back into that system and recirculate into its eventual use again. We are very much of that mindset.”
There is already evidence of extensive tree removal and other significant alterations by your team to the landscape and the width of the entrances is substantial. How does this meld with the Irth philosophy of being land caretakers?
Alex Daprato – “Yeah, so I touched on this a little bit when I was talking about the land restoration program. I totally agree. At this point what you would have seen is extensive work on site. Widening of roads, etc, we needed to do that to allow for access of trucks and drills to drill the wells to do the hydro geotechnical work. We chose to remain using the existing snowmobile track so we didn’t need to carve out a new road, and on the lower escarpment, the main road to the hotel, we architected that through as much brush and small shrubs and a dense planted red cedar area. But again, we work from a philosophy of reciprocity, so this work we have done that’s been invasive, that’s been a part of the early goings of a development, eventually we are looking to plant trees back into that ecosystem that are native to that area to promote that biodiversity and gift that back to the land to help to restore it.”
Why were us neighbours not given this information in hard copy after you were told many times that internet access is unreliable in this area of pec?
Alex Daprato – “I think there are two parts to this, we’ve been communicating with our neighbours on a bunch of different channels; we’ve been texting, talking, when we were able to meet physically--we had face to face. I think with what’s happening now and the challenges with COVID we have been limited to having to do a lot of things virtually. With the options that were presented to us by County Planning...there was the mail out option and there was this format and we did feel that this format was the best way to actually have a dialogue and a communication with people instead of just delivering them the information. With respect to the reports, I think Marko touched on this earlier, once finalized people will have the ability, because they are open source, to go to County, they might have to pay a fee to get them printed, but you can get things printed at the actual offices themselves when they are able to open up.”
Why the rush to push things through while the world is suffering from a global pandemic. You have said it’s a family business with no outside investors but have also said to many people in the community that you need to keep your investors happy. So are you a corporation with investors or a family business?
Alex Daprato – “We are both. We are a family business and we are a corporation. An operation of this scope we need the help from friends, we need the help from outside investment but at it’s core no matter what, it started as a family business. In terms of rushing things through, we’ve been working at this for 3 years now and it was unfortunate that the timing of us completing our reports and having our submissions finalized coincided with what was happening with COVID, so we really haven’t been rushing things it has been a three year ongoing process and it’s also going to take more time to go through. We still have the process of being in front of council, of those conversations taking place. If it were to get approved there is a whole site plan control phase, so the opportunity to engage and continue to work with the community with concerns and flex the model a little bit is totally available.”
Scott Ferguson - “I am going to follow up with some questions because there were a couple things that I didn't understand. Who is going to control the decisions: does the family or outside investors?”
Alex Daprato – “We are. Our ownership, the way that we are designing our corporation is that we are sole owners and we make all the decisions. We are finding people that are passionate about the process and our vision and we are the ones delivering on that.”
Scott Ferguson – “Ok, then let us tie it back to a question that was asked earlier Alex, someone asked about flipping the property, now that it is a corporation, are you planning on flipping the corporation?”
Alex Daprato – “No, we are not planning on flipping the corporation. This is something that we, again 3 years, we have built this from the ground up and we want all of these messages, and this brand, everything that we have been growing with, we want to work with and see it too fruition. This is something that all of us are passionate about and I don’t think there is any intention to sell. We haven’t even gotten anything off the ground yet.”
Scott Ferguson – “Ok, and I think I heard that Melanie’s home is also going to be on the property as well.”
Alex Daprato - “yes, absolutely.”
Melanie Hazell - “It has taken longer than anticipated, but that is absolutely still in the works.”
How do you intend to keep your guests from accessing neighbouring fields and properties?
Alex Daprato -“Yeah, so I think a lot of that is going to be through way finding, through guided walks. Most of the trails are going to be focused more in the belly of the property so they are not going to spill out over the edges. There is an existing trail that runs on one property line, but that is going to be an access point with those electric vehicles to deliver people. The actual walking trails are going to be in the middle. But, way finding is going to keep people off of it. If we need to put fences up in certain areas that will happen as well and through us guiding people through it, we will be there to make sure people are not exploring on other properties.”
Scott Ferguson – “I just want to make a comment about your previous answer: why would a family business use a corporation model. I am a chartered accountant and most family businesses are corporations for reasons of tax purposes, for reasons of dealing with other organizations, and keeping high levels of accountability. So, from my perspective as a chartered accountant, I do not see a contradiction between family businesses and corporations because most of them are both. I just wanted to put that out there.”
Why would you not think to respect the constraints of the existing zoning or purchase elsewhere?
Marko Cekic – “So, there is no Prime Agricultural land on site, just to be very clear about that. That is a separate designation. It is not here, we likely wouldn’t be having this discussion, if there was Prime Ag. land on this site. As for the EP land, we are not encroaching on, As Scott Reynolds (Ainley) notes, we are not encroaching and in terms of the EP land itself, so we are very much cognizant of the restraints on site. No Prime Ag land and we are not encroaching on the EP lands.”
Marko Cekic – “We are very much, respecting the constraints. Normally when someone talks about the constraints, they are talking about EP Zoning and all that. The natural heritage features are very much respected. A standard process of development is the rezoning and official plan amendment process. Just because a site is zoned a certain use or designation does not mean it is inappropriate for another use or designation. This is why you have to go through all the studies we have completed, you prepare a planning rationale report that basically looks at the policy context, with back-ups from the studies and shows that the proposed use and amendments are appropriate for the site, which is what we’ve done. So, just to reiterate again, the EP zone is being respected, so the environmental features are being respected and the remainder of the zoning, the rezoning and the official plan have justified common practice in the province.”
Alex Daprato – “To answer the question, why we didn’t purchase land somewhere else: this is more of an emotional connection to the area of Prince Edward County as a whole, it’s a vibrant, exciting community. The energy, opportunity, and culture there is rich and we were drawn to that. The property itself, it was a beautiful site and we connected to it and it’s as simple as that.”
Marko Cekic – “Sorry, can I just add something. It’s important to also note that the Planning Act in Ontario accepts rezoning and official plan re-designation, contingent on that it is consistent with the OP and OPPS and that it makes sense through studies. So the planning act acknowledges re-designation and rezoning subject to the process that we have already gone through.”
Will you commit to providing legible hard copy to interested parties of all material distributed electronically or otherwise on this matter?
Scott Ferguson – “I think you have told how the material is available, but it doesn’t sound like you have plans to actually get into printing.”
Alex Daprato – “No, I think it is available for people. It will be available to people both through the municipality and it is available through our website that people could print.”
At the November, 2018 pub meeting, the founder stated passionately that she would be living on site, within her sole and permanent residence. The site plan does not seem to factor that. What has changed regarding the owner residence commitment? Are we, the community, to live with the impact of the development but she and her family are not?
Melanie Hazell – “I am still very passionate about having my home on the property and it’s not a part of the proposed development, which is why it has not appeared in terms of the site plan. Moving to The County has taken longer than I would have wished, but that is absolutely still the plan.”
Marko Cekic – “Just to touch upon Melanie’s note, the large parcel of land that is subject to the current application is a separate land holding from 501 Rock Crossroad, that’s where Melanie’s residence in the future is proposed. So that parcel of land, although it may provide access through an easement to the site, it is not part of the larger land development.”
Scott Ferguson – “That is why we can’t find it on the site plan?”
Mark Cekic – “That is correct.”
Why should the community be supportive of the zoning sought?
Melanie Hazell – “I believe the community should support this rezoning for three reasons: the past, the present, and the future. In the past, The County has an amazing track record of embracing innovation and IRTH Landscape Hotel and Spa is truly about innovation in terms of tourism. Number 2, The Present: Folks in The County have present lived experience in terms of nature and the healing power of nature and what we are proposing with IRTH Landscape Hotel and Spa is to provide nature restoration for different generations, folks who don’t have access to either part time or full-time nature immersion, and the future we’ve been so impressed with people’s deep dedication to the county and as such, I would imagine that that current dedication extends into the future that county residents are concerned about future sustainability IRTH HOTEL and SPA hopes to be part of the future sustainability plan that The County has.”
What is the planned launch date? THE OPENING DATE
Alex Daprato – “We are looking to open in Summer of 2023. There are still some hurdles to get to that date.”
Does the circumstance of COVID support the basis of your proposal?
Scott Ferguson – “I think we got the answer to that from Jonathan, but is there anything you want to add Jonathan.”
Jonathan Kearns – “Not at this time Scott. I think I answered that and will be very tuned in to what COVID does and as knowledge increases about it we will be analyzing and making sure we address all effects moving forward.”
Melanie Hazell – “And from a tourist perspective, if anything, COVID is going to drive more interprovincial travel and we will be there as an option.”
Scott Ferguson – “You mean more interprovincial versus international?”
Jonathan And Melanie - “Correct.”
How much treed area is being cleared and why is that necessary?
Alex Daprato – “So, the treed area that has been cleared is more or less the remaining treed area that is going to be cleared throughout the process, I think Jonathan alluded to the main structure being on the border of forest and field and the prairie and we are going to be constructing as light as possible so that we are not disturbing anymore trees. This goes back to the reciprocity, we know that we have had to cut down some trees and we are not happy with that but in order to get this message and this development across, it had to happen. We felt that to replant natives and to replant in a way that’s conducive to an environment that has been served over the last 150 years and take it to a place 200 years prior we are doing the area more service than the harm provided to get everything going.”
Melanie Hazell – “And with the felled trees, we are committed to reusing those within the property. In terms of any berm-ing we might be creating, so apart of the reusing approach.”
If electric vehicles are planned for transportation on the site what will you do during the winter you can’t use electric vehicles?
Alex Daprato – “Yeah, I think this is a hurdle that will start to be articulated once we get to site plan control and development of our concept in more detail is something we are going to have to keep discussing and find out a solution for it. But it is going to run in parallel with the ethos we are trying to develop. So it's going to be in some way eco-friendly, it will be light, it will be non-obtrusive and will be another (while problematic possibly for winter travel), it will be another opportunity for people to engage in nature.”
Scott Ferguson – “So, Alex, you are saying it is a relevant question, it’s an important question to you and you are working on it?”
Alex Daprato – “absolutely.”
I’m interested in the concept of a nutrition plan for the site; how long to finally implement?
Alex Daprato – “Well, I think we are implementing it now. So, that’s the thing...it’s hard to see, but we have been disking and clearing the fields and working to turn them over in order to kill all the invasive that were rampant throughout it. Two years of farming that land to work towards removing those invasive, so you are already seeing part of that site nutrition. And later this fall because we have been at those fields for two years now, we are looking to plant a first seeding of natives and flowers. As far as the plan itself, we are just waiting on St. Williams Nursery to deliver the overall concept and it will be a three to five year ongoing plan and we will have that posted to our site and put some news on there and make people aware of when that will be made available.”
What do the developers intend to do in terms of County Road 8?
Brian Daly – “This one I believe was answered, but is there anything else we want to add to that.”
Marko Cekic – “So, the traffic brief demonstrated that there is no control required at the entrance. No traffic lights or stop lights are required and the development will be generally screened from County Road 8, so that you don’t just see the development off the road necessarily, but no other major works to County Road 8 are required to be done.”
Alex Daprato – “I think I can touch on that intersection for one second, the actually intersection where our entrance and County Road 8 meet; when we were applying for a permit to carve out that road it was for tourist commercial permit and road use so we had to find an area on site that worked within those guidelines. Some of those were visible from a certain perspective around any curved edges, over and hills, so we designed where that was and got it permitted under tourist commercial use.”
Thank you for sharing this information: I am wondering if your organization will share with the community information about invasive species that could be used by other land owners to eradicate buckthorn and the like. I know that the Bruce Trail trust is working hard to eradicate this plant, any guidance or learnings from your important work would be helpful.
Alex Daprato – “That’s a wicked question and I think that we could and we will. To add to it, I think that there is going to be a section on our Land Restoration Page where we can share that information. Even in the News Section, where we start to share those plans for that regrowth, it is something that we can add in there. I just want to note that with the program we are trying to install, there is going to be a native seeding collecting that is part of that that we can start to implement to local nurseries within The County. So the bank that we are creating of these seeds and plants we will be able to distribute to our neighbours and our community.”
It sounds like foraging is going to be a part of your guests itinerary; how do you intend to do this in a sustainable manner while educating your clients enough so they don't go home and try to forage in other areas with their limited knowledge of sustainable or safe foraging. As a purveyor of nature and nature-appreciation to urban tourists, you have a moral obligation to do it correctly. Sustainability and with obligatory caveats in place; what credentials are you seeking from your employees?
Melanie Hazell – “What we’ve talked about in terms of any foraging program is to partner with the wonderful local foragers who have all the credentials, know The County exceedingly well and we’ve had exposure to in the past.
Alex Daprato - “And I think to add to it to, the foraging program isn’t just something people can come and take advantage of our property to forage, it would be apart of a programmatic experience that is tied to any food program we have, so if people who are staying with us are also coming to dinner, we’d be working with either a forager or our chef to develop a program where people can forage, connect to their food, and bring it back to the kitchen, the chef can cook it, and really for people to understand this deep relationship between where their food comes from and actually partaking in the energies of that, I also think that there will be a lot of teachings and learnings in place and we are trying to find the right people to do that as sustainably as possible.”
So, one question that just came up when you were answering that; how do you forage and make sure groups stay on trails?
Alex Daprato – “Well, the way we are actually developing that restoration plan, because it is going to take a number of years to actually totally heal the property in its entirety, but we are working from development and trails out, in terms of that seeding so, when it comes to diverse flowers, diverse plant wildlife, and even, the foraged fruits and veggies, a lot of that is going to be retained along the edges of the trails and the buildings, so it is going to be accessible for people...so that they don’t have to trapse into the actual bush to get that stuff.”
Melanie Hazell – “Or go off property.”
Alex Daprato – “Yeah.”
Jonathan Kearns – “Some of your foraging could be carried out in your own greenhouse.”
Alex Daprato – “Absolutely. Which is another feature that we are looking to install.”
Sorry if I am repeating a question: I can’t see what has been asked; will light levels increase?
Jonathan Kearns – “We did speak about this, but while there will be more lighting on the property, it won't be upward lighting. We’ve many times designed exterior lighting so that it is all downward facing and as we said, buildings will have roof overhanging or shading devices that will be protecting windows from the sun, but will also protect the sky from light coming through windows. So, I think this will all be very carefully addressed in detail as we design the buildings.”
Regarding the traffic study; where were the survey points? There were pinch points along County Road 8; most notably County Road 8 and 13, with sharp curves, with cars barely able to keep to the road. Parts of County Road 8 are badly maintained; summer traffic is almost non stop--the traffic survey, therefore, seems to underestimate the traffic problems.
Mark Cekic – “So, I can answer that; the survey points for the traffic counts were as follows: so, 100 metres east of Kaiser Cross Road and the other one was 50 metres east of Rights Lane. So, the counts were obtained, in accordance with the ministry guidelines that the traffic brief was completed and determined that for this class of rural road, the number of vehicles that are currently accessing the road are well below the benchmark where you would need to complete some sort of improvements as a result of this development or controls...the addition of this development similarly will not result in an increase large enough to warrant the simulation, turning lanes, stop signs or road improvements. So, although it may look like traffic is high in the area; MTO design manuals state that we are meeting this threshold that we don’t need to do additional work. With that said, The County has obviously recognized County Road 8 as a tourism corridor and scenic route, so traffic is expected. Particularly taking advantage of some of the other businesses in the area and the natural scenery.”
What about traffic on Rock Crossroad?
Marko Cekic – “So, based on the pre-consultation and the proposed use on County Road 8, traffic on Rock Crossroad was not looked at, primarily because that is not where the main access point is. So County Road 8, being the main road through, that is where everything was evaluated.”
Do the private services of the site require approval from MECP for water taking and septic or are the limits under MECP approval and the health service and County approval servicing?
Marko Cekic – “So, this answer is best from a hydrogeologist; but yes MECP will be the approval authority and The County will still provide comments and so forth, but MECP will be the approval authority.”
The preservation of natural quiet is part of a continuum that includes maintaining species diversity and reducing carbon dioxide emissions. The 3 main sources of noise pollution are industrial, vehicle and construction. IRTH construction will be over the course of several years with the obvious attendant noise pollution. On a permanent and ongoing basis, the IRTH project industrializes the landscape and introduces noise pollution such as mechanical ventilation eg. heat pumps, air conditioning and heating, kitchen exhaust systems, laundry services; service vehicle deliveries and building servicing; constant vehicular movement in and out of the 100+ parking lot by guests and staff, and trails and boardwalks that allow large groups to intrude upon nesting and mating grounds 24/7. As well, the project proposes outdoor social gatherings during events, and "dinner under the stars' events which infer indoor and outdoor music, conversation, service noises etc. Further, the concept drawings propose outdoor decks and firepits allowing for conversational and music disturbance 24/7. The acoustical nature of sine waves will be magnified by the upward sweep of the escarpment to the northwest, Lost Lake surface to the north and Lake Ontario to the east.
What acoustic ecological studies have been done to measure and address the short and long term impact of this sonic bombardment on the environmentally significant escarpment and wetland, as well as the neighbouring community who live in the rural county because they are already connected to nature and value its soundtrack over that of constant industrial and human noise pollution?
Jonathan Kearns - “That’s a fantastic question and I think it will require more than one of us to answer it because some of those concerns are operational in nature, but if I could start by saying that the buildings, given that there are 38 thermal resistance values and triple glazing will be very highly sound insulated. So, we are talking about building envelopes that keep sound in as well as keep sound out. So, from the point of view of the building enclosures, I don’t see any threat to noise that could be unacceptable. The mechanical systems that we are using are typically extremely quiet, almost inaudible heat recovery ventilation systems combined with some form of heat pump that is also what is deemed to be whisper quiet, so very quiet, very low noise, wouldn’t be heard more than 10 or 20 feet away. So, I don’t think the building design is going to generate any noise issues; so with respect to serving vehicles, that is another issue, I will maybe let ALEX answer and the use of spaces (outdoor spaces) for events and activities also. I just want to say with regards to the construction, I briefly touched on the fact that it suits our purposes to manufacture as much of our building components as possible offsite so that a lot of our work onsite is simply assembly of pre manufactured components. That way, we can achieve a higher quality of building construction and also reduce the length of time that we would be building on site. And reduce the amount of noise that would be generated by construction. So I will stop there and leave it to Alex.
Brian Daly – “Just to dovetail what you said Jonathan, our estimate on construction timeline from site mobilization to completion is a year. Now with that said, lets put a contingency on it, let’s say 3 months, so it’s not the full three years.”
Alex Daprato – “And I think we do share that exact same concern. The noise issue is something we are very conscious of because we want our guests to have an experience that also takes advantage of the quiet of nature. I think in regards, there were a couple misconceptions, we are not looking to host any outdoor musical events, there might be one programmatic dinner under the stars in the back, but we haven't really gotten into that much detail about what that is going to look like or if it is something we are going to play with. Initially we had some outdoor patios for all of the units, but we got rid of those and replaced them with indoor screened in areas. So, to Jonathan’s point, with the structures people are going to be able to view nature within those structures. So, people aren’t going to be sitting outside on patios and stuff. We are really going to try to limit that outside noise as much as possible. When we are talking about large groups going around the site and going around the boardwalk, I think Scott touched upon it in his analysis of the report, we might have all looped around it a little bit, but in areas of sensitives, in Lost Lake, ANSI being prime examples, those are going to be areas that are guided in small groups and people can go and explore those areas in small groups. It won’t be all the time; it will probably be morning and afternoons slots to go and experience those things and we are trying our best to figure out how to limit that noise traffic as much as possible. I think that wayfinding is our best way to hold guests accountable and that extends to the roadway and coming onto the site with your cars in the parking lot and making sure people are aware of the fact that this is a quiet space and don’t slam your doors, don’t drive in too fast, whatever. Anything we can do within our power to help and make sure that sound is dampened we are also excited to explore those options because we align on that.”
Melanie Hazell – “And landscape architecture is something we are going to be looking at. What different landforms can we create using material on site that can act as noise buffers. So, we are looking at all of the solutions.”
Marko Cekic– “Sorry Melanie, just to also note that; the municipality bylaw or the formal name of the bylaw would have to be respected by this development or any other development for that matter, so everyone should keep that in mind as well with regards to construction noise as well as operational noise as well.”