BRACEBRIDGE, ON – An environmental group in Bracebridge is asking for specially trained Ontario Wetlands Assessor to evaluate a sensitive piece of land being considered for development.

The piece of land off of Stephens Bay Road has been chosen as the home for developer Muskoka Royale to build a private international boarding school, that would include residences and campus buildings.

The South Bracebridge Environmental Protection Group (SBEPG) has asked the Town of Bracebridge and the District of Muskoka to request the developer to engage the assessor to provide a Wetlands Assessment Evaluation, which is called for by the Ontario Wetlands Evaluation System (OWES).

According to the group, they’re concerned about the wetland being developed, and they’re also concerned that other areas that have not been previously assessed. Those areas could receive a designation as a protected area from development.

“Wetlands are an important part of the watershed and they are a valuable economic asset and provide habitat for significant wildlife and these sensitive ecosystems help prevent flooding and we certainly have seen our fair share of flooding in past years,” writes Lisa Cumber from the group in a Facebook post.

She uses a photo of the wetlands near Stephens Bay Road with Lake Muskoka in the background to illustrate the group’s concern.

“The thin blue line on the right is the snowmobile trail. Lake Muskoka is the larger body of water,” Cumber explained. “Hard to believe that a rezoning application is at the table to rezone from the present zoning allowing no building on the lands to allow the build of an institutional elementary private school and dormitory in this area also with three other precincts.”

She noted this area is also where the Bracebridge West By-pass is slated to be placed.

“The loss of wetlands due to development is a serious issue in Ontario and the world,” noted Cumber. “The Town and District have been very responsive to the SBEPG’s and public concerns and we look forward to their ongoing support and communication in this process.”