Wednesday, December 23, 2009

No deaf camp resolution yet

No deaf camp resolution yet

The zoning debate that held up the use of the Ontario Camp of the Deaf for motocross and ATV races this summer is still up in the air, but getting closer to a resolution.

The Seguin Township camp’s racetrack is used weekly for non-camp-related local dirt bike and ATV practices and is part of the competition circuit for the motorized sports. The property is also used for the annual Rock Crawl four-by-four skills competition and was the site of the 2008 National Enduro Championships.

It’s use as a race track is historic, dating back to within the former Foley Township, which amalgamated with Humphrey, Christie and Rosseau to form Seguin Township in 1997. Despite the history, with neighbours’ complaints about noise, the property was discovered to not have the zoning for the non-camp-related activities in 2008 when the Enduro went to the township for permission to use a section of a township road while hosting an event at the camp. The township granted special permission to continue with the historic use of the land for the last two summers while the two sides ironed out the issues and studied the noise levels.

Last summer, the township wanted the camp to apply for re-zoning, but standing on the principle that it was a use permitted during the Foley years, Derek Rumball, executive director of Ontario Camp for the Deaf, refused to at the recommendation of his lawyer.

“I believe that very shortly, in the new year, the township and I, the camp, will be issuing a statement resolving the issues - from large issues of zoning compliance to housekeeping issues and some compliance issues for the camp,” said Rumball.

Both sides conducted noise studies last year - the township in June during a Motocross event and the camp in August during an ATV race. The file is now waiting for a peer review of the camp’s results by the township’s consultant.

“They’ve taken a different approach to their noise study. We’re not noise experts so we need our consultant to tell us (the results),” said Tom Stockie, township chief administrative officer.

The consultants would also suggest possible ways to decrease the sound emanating from the camp by using mufflers, a fence or berming.

“We’re putting together a package of information,” said township chief administrative officer Tom Stockie. “What we’ll probably be doing is bringing it to council and having some meetings in the spring.”

Township councillors should have a package on the zoning and noise issues in February, and, if not resolved by the 2010 race season, council could grant another year’s exception to the zoning use, he said.

In the meantime, Rumball is looking toward next year’s race schedule and hoping to “put this to bed.”