A long-awaited nature reserve in Port Carling has officially been established. The Pinelands Bay Nature Reserve is now under the protection of Muskoka Conservancy.
The 83-acre property consists of valleys, streams, and forest between Lake Joseph and Lake Rosseau, west of Peninsula Road.
The announcement comes after a year and a half long fight by concerned neighbours of the property to keep the land in its natural state. According to Scott Young, Executive Director of Muskoka Conservancy, a developer had filed numerous planning requests to build on the property, eventually selling to the conservancy instead after the neighbours fundraised more than $1-million.
Young says it’s been a long fight.
“It went through an [Ontario Municipal Board] hearing, it was challenged by area residents, and was the subject of many, many hours of planning meetings, and great expense,” says Young. “The neighbours who lived around that area got a little fed up with constantly fighting against proposals from developers, and decided to take matters into their own hands, and in essence rescue the property from development.”
Young says a management plan for the property is still in the works, but it will likely include forming hiking trails. He says he’s thrilled the land is now under their protection.
“Now that it’s protected, it’ll remain in a natural state forever,” says Young. “And the neighbours, who were constantly in one fight after the next over the land, are able to sleep at night knowing there’s not going to be a big development right in the heart of their neighbourhood.”
Muskoka Lakes Council gave the property its final approval with a zoning-bylaw amendment at its Dec. 15th meeting. Young credits the neighbours for seeing it through to the end.
“It’s not just about protecting what’s in their backyard, this actually translates to something bigger and better for the entire community,“ says Young. “Nature conservation is a win for everybody, and it’s just an honour to work with such a generous group of people that are willing to put themselves out there and generate a win like this.”