Save Our Trees

Save Our Trees

By Bruce Bowden

Public Town Meeting: March 10, 2020

In preparation for the special meeting of Council tomorrow evening, March 10th, at 6:30 pm (Doors open at 6 PM) at the Port Hope Public High School. ACO Port Hope encourages you to attend this crucial public town meeting and help us “Save Our Trees.” The Penryn Woodland is an essential natural feature in our town and is at risk of being clearcut by Aon Inc. and Mason Homes.

To quote from the 405-page meeting agenda posted late Friday:

“The purpose of the meeting is for the Community Development Committee to inform the public of the proposed Draft Plan of Subdivision application to facilitate the development of 369 dwelling units comprised of 326 single detached dwellings and nine (9) townhouse blocks (consisting of 43 townhouse units) in a freehold tenure on lands located south of Strachan Street and west of Victoria Street South – Phase 5 of the Lakeside Village Community.” 

We expect this should have read “Community Development Department”.

The issue of most concern to residents of Port Hope and the ACO Executive is the proposed destruction of an additional 907 trees on 3.15 ha (7.8 acres) to the west of Victoria Street South. The further removal of trees, in line with the housing development, is a part of the proposal to change the density in part of Phase 5. This part of the plan will change the zoning of some of the lands that were previously part of the Port Hope Golf & Country Club to residential.

The Municipality’s agenda refers to those submitting the Draft Plan as the proponents. They are 1) AON Inc.; 2) 2107401 Ontario Inc.; 3) Penryn Park Estates Inc.; and 4) Penryn Mason Homes Inc.

Walker, Nott, Pragicevic Associates Limited, the firm representing the companies mentioned above, submitted the proposal and requests for planning amendments. We hope that we will see representatives from each of these five companies at the meeting tomorrow night. Then, they can experience first hand the anger and frustration created by this proposed desecration of a significant component of Port Hope’s heritage.

As part of our attendance tomorrow evening, ACO Port Hope has prepared a few questions for these companies, their reps, and Council if they choose to show up.

The items are as follows:

  • Have you amended your Draft Plan for the re-zoning and the woodlot since it was initially submitted? If so, in what way?
  • Will you consider the trees in context, that is, as part of a heritage property, and near (adjacent to) a heritage property?
  • Are you commissioning a Heritage Impact Assessment that includes the three designated properties (four designated buildings) as a whole, rather than piecemeal?
  • Do you know why Mason Homes shelved what we understand was an architectural research report before completion?
  • Will there be future meetings for the public to review your plans once Staff receives all the information they’ve asked for, and had a chance to review it?

Is it possible that the future use of the golf course could become housing as well if the Council doesn’t get in front of the process?

We include links to three useful documents to help you prepare for tomorrow night’s meeting:

  1. A press release from Bill Wilkerson, who heads up the Concerned Citizens of Port Hope.
  2. Speaking notes based on a presentation to Council on March 3rd made by Jeremy Holmes and Dianne Despot, who live at Penryn Homestead at 88 Victoria Street South.
  3. A very detailed submission by Sue Stickley to Council outlining her concerns about the proposal.

Please wear green apparel for the meeting. A ‘sea of green’ may help us send a message to the proponents of the proposal. We hope the proponents will decide to do the right thing, not just the legally allowable, or most financially rewarding. The decision to remove these trees from our community is a moral one, not a legal one.