I Stephen Corke and my cousin are the property owner's of the long standing family property located at 165 & 167 Hastings Drive (Lot 58 & 59). In 2012, my cousin and I inherited the properties and while legally they are two separate lots they have been treated as one family property since they were originally purchased prior to 1985 by our grandparents Mary and Howard Corke.
The Hastings Drive zoning by-law process began in September 2015, my cousin and I on multiple documented occurrences through public deputations, stakeholder meetings and emails informed Norfolk County Planning Staff and MHBC Consultants, that development and overnight use has been present on our family lots and several other so called vacant lots along Hastings Drive since 1947 to present day. Yet, not once during this process or in the final MHBC Hastings Drive Issues & Options Report was my voice or emails recognized with regards to this.
The focus instead by the County Planners and MHBC Planning was, what should be allowed on Hastings Drive, with no recognition for what land uses have been continuously occurring on Hastings Drive.
My grandfather obtained a building permit in 1959, and built a 3 bedroom one bathroom cottage. In the 1970’s he installed shoreline protection consisting of granite boulders and a row of timber posts, which is still there today and has mature vegetation established behind it. This shoreline protection is nearing end of life primarily due to the LPRCA’s unwillingness to issue permits to maintain it, until recently due to extreme high water levels, the LPRCA Board approved and expedited shoreline maintenance and protection on Hastings Drive and the rest of Long Point.
In 1980, Norfolk County required my grandfather to replace his septic system with a Class 2-6 sewage tank at which time he was issued a Health Unit Certificate of Approval Permit. The holding tank is still present and in the same location on the property. The December 1985 storm damaged the family cottage and shortly after it was unknowingly burnt down. The cottage’s large brick chimney base and footings with burn marks on them are still present to this day and unmoved as per the recent survey done in July 2015 by Kim Husted Surveyors.
Fences were installed prior to 1985 and carried forward to this day, occasionally being vandalized and repaired over the years. May 2016, the MNRF approved a Hydro Pole and 508 square foot steel helical pile dock on my property. The MNRF stated within the permit, “The activities associated with the project, as currently proposed, will likely not contravene section 9 (species protection) and/or section 10 (habitat protection) of the Endangered Species Act, 2007 (ESA 2007) for the species at risk.”
The department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada stated they, “received your proposal for a dock installation on Lake Erie which has been reviewed under the Fisheries Act and the Species at Risk Act. Based on the information provided, your proposal has been identified as a project where a Fisheries Act authorization is not required given that serious harm to fish can be avoided by following standard measures, and a Permit under the Species at Risk Act is not required.
The Long Point Region Conservation Authority staff in the May 4th, 2016 Board Meeting Agenda stated that my dock application addressed the control of flooding, erosion and dynamic beach. They then issued a 2 year dock permit for development, interference with wetlands & alterations to shorelines & watercourses under Ontario Regulation 178/06.
Norfolk County Planning Staff and the LPRCA have regularly stated their opinion backed by only outdated studies, that it is not practical for shoreline protection or development on Hastings Drive due to the dynamic beach and the bedrock being more then 100 feet down. Simply put these opinions are wrong. The 12 steel helical piles used for my dock foundation were licensed by a professional engineer of Ontario, and as per the on site certified Postech London installer notes, have a minimum bearing compression of 280,548 lbs, for the torque pressure obtained in the cohesion-less soil at 167 Hastings Drive.
To give some perspective on this, the dock pile pressure obtained in the ground of Hastings Drive allows the ability to easily hold the weight of a standard 4-storey house. All 12 piles, while being screwed into the beach, reached what the installer describer as large river rock and clay substrate or the “hard stuff”, all at exactly the same depth, which was approximately 13 feet down.
The dock piles were installed in October 2016, were unaffected by this years winter lake freeze and thaw, and didn’t move at all by the intense wind storm combined with high water in early March of 2017, which had winds clocked at over 115 km/hr and effected several properties on Hastings with most getting more sand deposited, yet some having a portion of their sand removed.
I find my dock very practical and so do 3 other lots which currently have docks on Hastings Drive. It is the hub for all the water sports activities my family loves to do.
From a Planners stand point alone, the 2001 MNR Technical Guide designed to support the PPS states that works intended primarily for purposes other than addressing the hazards and which by the nature of their use are normally located in close proximity to or within the water (e.g., walkways, boat ramps, boat docks and landscaping or aesthetic improvements) may be governed by design criteria which are not necessarily as stringent as those for safely addressing the hazards.
The picture I have provided below was taken June 18th, 2017 and shows most of the development I have discussed on our family properties. Starting from the right side and going to the left, one can see the fence posts, picnic table, pop-up camper directly overtop of the old cottage footings and in-front of our privately owned hydro pole, the large cement base of the original cottage chimney in the centre and the dock in background extending into the water and with an electric boat lift with a 16 foot aluminum fishing boat elevated to the dock height and unseen on the other side. Along with the granite boulder shoreline protection protecting the beach and mature vegetation established behind it, even with this years above normal high water.
Our family has continuously paid property taxes from the 1940’s up until present day, we meticulously kept all permits and documents associated with the properties, and we bought the properties with overnight use and continued it to the extent of our family’s legal abilities through camping and trailers (pre & post 1985) unimpeded. My family always maintained the intent to rebuild the cottage to the old footprint and I specifically asked the MHBC Planning staff for this rebuild option in the stakeholders questionnaire, yet it never was included in their final report.
Rebuilding the family cottage I envisioned to be the main goal, and I never thought I would be arguing to retain the ability to have a campfire, stargaze and pitch a tent overnight on our long standing family property. Our family did not buy Hazardous Land and this new bylaw is being wrongly applied to acquired long-standing uses in an attempt to sterilize land uses with no compensation.