Minaki Lodge Appeals — Prehearing Conference

A large crowd came through some sleety Kenora weather to watch as the prehearing conference at the Clarion Hotel on November 29 initiated the Minaki Lodge redevelopment appeal process.  Here are the highlights.

— the hearing is set to start on July 17 in Kenora.  Space on the Ontario Municipal Board calendar is reserved for up to three weeks

—  David Bronskill, the Toronto lawyer who represents both the group of year-round residents and the MCA in the combined appeal, submitted an issues list for the hearing.  Neither the lawyer for Minaki on the River nor the lawyer for the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing had any objection.  That issues list is an important factor in the hearing process; the MCA and year-round residents’ representatives spent a significant amount of time working on it with our shared planning consultant in Toronto.  The list as submitted takes the longstanding concerns with the redevelopment proposal and translates them into hard issues under the Provincial Policy Statement, the primary (and pretty much only) planning guide in unorganized territory.  A copy is available under the “Minaki Lodge” tab.

— representatives of the Ochiichagwe’babigo’ining Independent Nation at the Dalles and of the Lake of the Woods District Property Owners Association asked for participant status to state concerns about the redevelopment proposal and both were approved.  Seasonal resident Bruce Mahaffy also requested and received participant status.  The OMB member confirmed that the Wabaseemoong Independent Nation at White Dog will still have an opportunity to join as a participant as well. 

— Rick Handlon, a lawyer at the Pitblado law firm in Winnipeg who has already done an extraordinary amount of work on this project, was recognized as co-counsel with David Bronskill for year-round residents and the MCA.  (Given that position as counsel, Rick has resigned from the MCA board.)  Rick will continue to donate all his time.

The conference ran only for an hour.  The parties will next adopt a procedural order that will confirm the hearing date, the parties, and the participants, and will set a schedule for the development of the case between now and July.

One final note.  The tone and conduct of the conference were quite formal.  The lawyers and the OMB member are all from Toronto, know each other from past cases, and dealt with each other with respect and deference.  After the long, haphazard, and anti-disclosure handling of the file by a rotating cast of characters at MMAH, we took comfort from the seriousness, competence, and independence that will characterize the appeal process with the OMB.