On November 27th, 2012, Aurora Community Tennis Club (ACTC) along with selected residents asked for Council’s support of a Fleury Park Proposal that would see a new playhouse and covered tennis courts constructed at Fleury Park, Aurora, Ontario. Specifically, a letter of support from Council was needed to apply for a grant of up to $500,000 from the Legacy Fund.
The Fleury Park proposal had one fundamental flaw – bad location. Any development at Fleury Park is restricted by the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority (LSRCA) due to flood water concerns. However, that didn’t discourage members of the ACTC from preparing The Fleury Park Proposal – Play House Feasibility Study where it would require that the LSRCA change its designation based on the use of a new technology called smart vents to mitigate the flood water risks.
Mayor Dawe reviewed the Fleury Park proposal and went one step further by contacting the Conservation Authority himself. Based on the technical details of the assessment, the LSRCA clarified that the location was not feasible for the proposed project.
We thought that this was an interesting case to comment on. Not so much about the failure or success of the project but more about appreciation for the reasons behind the regulations. When safety is at risk, regulations should never be loosened, yet enforced more. We think that as a community the correct decision was made – not to develop on the floodplain even if technologies are available to reduce (not eliminate) the potential risks.
During the Council meeting, Cllr Buck provided her perspective on why she wasn’t able to support the proposal. Since the audience was relatively small during the meeting we thought it would be beneficial to post what she said towards the Fleury Park Proposal.
Councillor Evelyn Buck [Aurora Council Meeting, November 27th, 2012]
“Mr. Mayor it is very nice to be supportive of visions and this is a vision, and if I had less knowledge of the function of the Conservation Authority I might be able to shelf what I know for a fact and go along with the supporting, moving this project forward into the budget. But I can’t set aside what I know. The Conservation Authority was created after Hurricane Hazel in 1954. It was a 100 year storm, people died. Even as far up from Lake Ontario as Aurora, the creeks were blocked, the culverts were blocked, the flooding was extensive.
We were one of the first municipalities to have floodplain mapping. We did it from the air. It was discovered, when vegetation came back, you could see line of the floods. The province has instituted the Conservation Authorities to ensure that such a disaster would never occur again. They’ve never flinched from those regulations. They’ve increased them. They’ve never reduced the requirement.
So since 1954 Aurora has excluded all development on the floodplain lands and it wasn’t entirely our own decision. We were part of the Conservation Authority; we were members of the Conservation Authority. Before there was a region, we appointed a member to the Conservation Authority. We’ve never strayed from those regulations.
To offer an argument of what they are doing in States, in the face of all the devastation and death that has been caused in the last several years, we can’t take any recommendations of what they are doing down there in terms of preventing disasters. We are doing a far better job in Canada, and particularly in Ontario in making sure that no such catastrophes ever happen again. And the reason that is the case is that no filling, nothing is allowed to be built within a floodplain; and that’s one of the worst spots in Aurora in the Fleury Park.
So that there is any possibility that the Conservation Authority will waiver from their advice to you Mr. Mayor, that this can never happen, I don’t believe that it will ever happen for a good reason.
It’s not simply a matter of someone’s decision or sending some professor out there to argue with them that they don’t know what they are doing and the professor knows, the University professor “knows better” won’t resolve this.
No it is not going to happen and I am not about to support a recommendation just to win a little popularity, to put our staff to additional work on this project and to put that kind of money in the budget. I won’t go into all the requirements that we put into master registration and development objectives.
Mr. Mayor I have spoken extensively on the issue and I think hopefully some members of Council realize that this is not a simple matter of asking staff to look into it, there is no way there is any authority being given by the Conservation Authority for anything like this and anything close to this.
I mentioned last Tuesday when we had to replace a washroom facility in that park. We already had it in there. We had to replace it, they wouldn’t let us do it. So they are not going to let anything like this happen.”
Anna Lozyk Romeo
REFERENCES & CREDITS
 Comment from Council Meeting November 27th, 2012, Evelyn Buck, Town Hall, Ontario.