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Sold!: LSRCA new owners of former Maple Lake Estates, North Gwillimbury Forest lands in Georgina
April 22, 2022

The last piece of the North Gwillimbury puzzle is now complete.

In one of the largest land transfer deals in the Lake Simcoe watershed, the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority is now the owner of 890 acres of land, which includes the former Maple Lake Estates lands, North Gwillimbury Forest and environmentally sensitive wetlands.

After more than a decade of legal disputes and planning tribunals between the developers, the Town of Georgina, the province and the conservation authority, the land transfer is complete and the conservation authority will start working on a long-term comprehensive management plan for the area.

The proposed future nature reserve is bound by Metro Road to the north, Woodbine Avenue to the east, Dear Park Road to the south and Varney Road on the west in Georgina.

The lands south of Dear Park Road were already designated as protected countryside within the province’s Greenbelt.

“These forests, wetlands and farmlands will now be under public ownership and open to the public in perpetuity," said Jack Gibbons, chairperson of the North Gwillimbury Forest Alliance in a statement.

"We look forward to working with and supporting the conservation authority to bring about the best planning and management of this treasure for future generations.”

The significant acquisition comes with a great deal of responsibility, said LSRCA chief administrative officer Rob Baldwin in a statement.

And that will take time.

The first step is to assess and evaluate the natural features and resident species found within the area, Baldwin said. The conservation authority will be hosting a number of public consultations in the future, seeking input from residents, the town as well as Georgina Island First Nation.

“The conservation authority is thrilled to celebrate this final step in bringing this land into public ownership as part of our holdings so it can be protected, restored and enjoyed by many generations to come,” Baldwin said.

Initially, the area was approved for development in the 1980s, slated for a 1,000-home subdivision. In 2019, the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal board designated the former Maple Lake Estates property as an environmentally protected area -- off-limits to development.