Limerick Township council discussed the Land’escapes acreage rezoning at their May 16 meeting. Victoria Tisdale, the clerk and treasurer, said that she had a meeting the previous week with Land’escapes and Hastings County about potentially rezoning the lands as one parcel and one zoning designation. There was also the matter of unopened road allowances that the township and Land’escapes needed to address going forward. After discussing these items, council approved moving forward with rezoning the entire acreage and reaching an agreement with regard to the unopened road allowances.
Mayor Carl Stefanski introduced the agenda item regarding council’s approval of the Land’escapes acreage to be rezoned into one zoning designation as it currently has a couple of different ones. According to Tisdale, the Land’escapes property is currently zoned Marginal Agricultural as well as quite a lot of Environmentally Protected.
She said that the previous week, she had a meeting with Justin Harrow, Hastings County’s director of planning and land development, who was working with Samann’s planners to ensure that the entire park is zoned in one parcel, with zoning to meet both his and the township’s requirements. Tisdale said that currently, the lands consisted of multiple parcels and roll numbers and it had been Harrow’s recommendation to rezone them this way.
“Which I think is the best way to do it. It will all be one piece. Almost like a private conservation area with passive commercial. It’s kind of a niche usage,” she says.
Councillor Jan MacKillican noted that Hastings County was creating a new zoning definition for the vast Land’escapes parcel as there was no such definition in the county presently.
Tisdale said that also at Harrow’s suggestion, Limerick should have an agreement in place with Land’escapes for permission to cross the township’s unopened road allowances. The only question going forward was whether or not the township would impose a charge for these crossings, and if so, whether they would impose a separate fee or add said charges into Samann’s commercial taxes.
Land’escapes is a unique private conservation project spearheaded by Ben Samann. It not only offers its members The Park, but also has a Stewardship program and a number of conservation initiatives. Samann bought 65,530 acres in Hastings County back in 2021 under the business name Land’escapes. He said that he and his team had been inspired by carbon capture projects across Canada, like the NCC Darkwoods Conservation Area in British Columbia when coming up with the concept for Land’escapes. No motorized vehicles of any kind are allowed on the property and members and guests can only use it for low impact recreation, which includes camping, hiking, biking, paddling, snowshoeing, skiing and nature observation. More details are available at www.landescapes.org.
Margaret Batuszkin from Kasama Marketing, Land’escapes public relations contact, says that Samann is satisfied to date with the progress and appreciates that each step is part of the overall planning process.
“[Samann] and his team will continue to work with council and their planners. He looks forward to coming to an amicable agreement for all. His ultimate goal is to preserve the land, while building a community of like-minded outdoor enthusiasts with a passion for nature, conservation and all-season, low impact recreation,” she says.
Tisdale told The Bancroft Times on May 19 that she wasn’t sure what the exact designation of the new zoning for the Land’escapes property would be yet, but that it will be somewhat of a private conservation area with a passive commercial campground incorporated.
“Our current comprehensive zoning bylaw does not have anything suitable to this endeavor,” she says. “With respect to the unopened road allowances, agreements will be put in place to address these during the rezoning process, but at this time I do not have a date on when this will take place.”
Michael Riley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Bancroft Times