The current Halton Official Plan Review for North Aldershot is a worry for some, an opportunity for others, and just the latest episode in an ongoing crusade for one long-time property owner.
Don Johnson and three generations of his family have lived in North Aldershot for over half a century and all he wants is to be left alone to do his own thing.
While some north Aldershot residents are lobbying the Region for sewer and water services and others want more protection for the natural environment, Johnson believes the Region and the Provincial Planning Act simply have no authority over his land.
It’s a position he has taken for years with little success.
“The Crown has given the authority for making decisions on this property to the Johnson family. Legally, the Province of Ontario (and the Region) has no authority to make any interference on the property”, said Johnson during a recent interview.
Johnson, a real estate agent, bases his position on the history of the land upon which he has spent an enormous amount of time and money researching.
“The Johnson Family has certified true copies of the two Crown Patents relating to their property, one issued in 1796 to Alexander Macdonel under the Great Seal of Upper Canada and King George the 3rd and the other portion in 1827 to John Davis under the Great Seal of Upper Canada and King George the 4th. Under the Succession Act these documents are now deemed to be signed by Queen of Canada Elizabeth the 2nd. These letters patent give the assignees sole and absolute authority over the identified lands. No government level has authority to overturn the Crown”, wrote Johnson in letters to the City of Burlington, the Region and the Ontario Municipal Board.
Unfortunately for him, Johnson has had little success in convincing the government that he is right. The current Regional Official Plan Review (ROPR) does not exempt his family property.
He feels the Region has failed to properly inform and communicate with north Aldershot residents about the current Official Plan review. “We sent a letter to them asking if they recognize our Crown grant as a legal instrument and they have not responded”.
Johnson fears the new Regional Official Plan will try to sterilize his property in a continuing attempt to support the Cootes to Escarpment Eco Park System, so he is hedging his bets. He has put his 152 acres up for sale to see if there is any interest. The price is $30 million. Besides its magnificent setting and spectacular views Johnson points out that the land has huge potential, in a variety of ways.
Parts of his property are only one kilometre from the Aldershot GO Station and, in his opinion, ripe for development. He claims the mid 90s North Aldershot Interagency Review supported development, but worries it is now may be ignored by local government.
“There is approximately 50 acres that was identified as being very eligible for development without causing any problems to the environment. It would be a fabulous place to have a nice development. We were hoping to put about 150 homes on that site……..but if we’re going to have to fight we’re going to have to ask for more density…….300 units”.
If not residential development, Johnson claims that some of the land could be used for aggregate production. “These lands were at one time owned by the brick companies……they were deemed surplus back in 1910 when they were sold off. There’s about 4 million cubic yards of Queenston Shale on this site”.
Another option would be public ownership.
“There’s nothing like this property in southern Ontario. ……We can’t understand why the City of Burlington has never tried to buy the property….We have beautiful forest land”.
This week the Region has released another series of documents on its ongoing Official Plan review. In the section on North Aldershot it offers commentary on the area’s significant environmental features but admits that: “Some participants want to see residential development in North Aldershot to meet the needs of current and future residents, as the Region will continue to grow and housing should be provided to accommodate projected growth”. Don Johnson would agree with that.
Mr. Johnson has posted a virtual tour of the property.
By Rick Craven