$9.1 million in development on "at capacity" Lake Clear quesioned

·3 min read

Eganville – Bonnechere Valley councillors had some questions about the over $9.1 million in development on “at capacity” Lake Clear in the last decade as the issue of RVs and their impact on the ecologically sensitive lake is rapidly coming to a head.

“I was under the assumption at capacity meant no build,” said Councillor Jack Roesner at a committee meeting of council. “I don’t understand how this at capacity would trigger things with RVs.”

Council had asked Building Inspector Mark Schroeder to compile a list of building permits for work done around the lake following concerns about RVs around the lake and their impact on the water quality. While the issue has been tossed back and forth for about five years, council recently finished a by-law amendment and specified just what an RV is and how many would be permitted on a lot. Council opted to allow four RVs per lot in the township, excluding the village of Eganville. A public meeting on the issue will be held February 16.

As part of previous discussions, council questioned the amount of building which has been done around the lake in recent years. They narrowed it down to the last decade, although Lake Clear was declared an “at capacity” lake decades before this, and asked Mr. Schroeder for a report showing the building permits.

In his report to council, he showed there have been 141 permits issued in the last 10 years for a total building value of $9,141,700. In 2020, there were 21 permits issued, including several homes, cottages, additions and garages.

Over the last two years building permits were valued at just under $2 million annually. Most of the other years the figure was closer to the $500,000 mark.

“I was going to take decks out until I saw there was one delineated as a deck at $250,000,” Mayor Jennifer Murphy noted.

Coun. Roesner said he counted 12 homes in the last decade, including some substantial ones, as well as 17 additions and 44 septics.

“If they are saying we can’t have development, what is this?” he asked. “This to me is developed.”

As well, there was only one demolition listed, he said.

“Are these new homes or existing cottages that were torn down?” he asked. “This is a fly in the ointment a lake at capacity where you can’t build.”

Mr. Schroeder said some might have been a construction onto an existing cottage, while others were torn down and a new home created.

“When the permit is used as a new dwelling it could be either/or,” he said.

Coun. Roesner said many could be seasonal cottages turned into homes.

“In my opinion this is development,” he said. “I don’t quite understand why they are screaming so much about RVs when they are allowing this around the lake.”

Mr. Schroeder said there is still vacant land around Lake Clear.

“There is nothing to prevent someone from building a new home as long as they meet setbacks and there is proper legal access to the property,” he said.

Councillor Brent Patrick said he knew the new buildings had to be on the new setbacks and have new septics but questioned if a cottage is on a foundation can this be used as a footprint.

Mr. Schroeder said for the older smaller cottages most people just tear them down and build a home.

“It is an existing lot of record,” he said.

Councillor Merv Buckwald pointed out some of the old cottages are quite simply built.

“The old cottage is gone within half a day,” Mr. Schroeder agreed.

Lake Clear is considered at capacity so no new lots can be created and there are no severances, he explained.

Councillor Tim Schison said he had a call from a property owner with a large property and 1,700 feet of waterfront. He said they want to use the property for RVs for extended generations of the family.

“It is a way for them all to enjoy the lake,” he said.

Debbi Christinck, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader