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Wetlands for sale

Orillia Today

Thursday, March 3, 2011

ORILLIA - A conservation society or the government would be ideal buyers for a massive wetland now on the market, says the broker of record.

"They should buy it and freeze it," Richard Flomen, of Brixton Commercial Real Estate Corp., told Orillia Today this week.

Bounded by Victoria Crescent and Forest Avenue, the 150-acre property is largely protected as provincially significant wetland.

Flomen has yet to determine what portion is available for development, while acknowledging the majority of land is off-limits.

'We are not really sure what we can develop and what we can't," he said. "I don't know if there are 50 acres we can develop or two acres - I just don't know. There are development rights, that's for sure."

A company of Marvin Green's owns the property, Flomen said.

Green has no intention of developing the land himself, he added.

"It is not a waterfront property," Flomen said. "I think there might be a little strip."

City officials confirmed that all but a small portion of the property is designated a provincially significant wetland.

Provincial law prohibits development on lands under that classification.

"It is highly protected because of that status," planning and development director Ian Sugden told Orillia Today.

In the same breath, Sugden said "nothing is absolute in the planning world," adding that governments change and so do policies.

As the regulations currently stand, however, "It is pretty tough to make a case to do anything (on protected lands) today," he said.

Development can occur on lands adjacent to protected wetlands so long as that development does not have a negative impact, he added.

Flomen said he has fielded "a ton of calls" from area brokers since posting for-sale signs on the property.

"There is not an asking price at this point," he said, adding that interested parties may be invited to submit offers in a process similar to tendering.

The owner is hoping a government agency or conservation society will purchase the property given its environmental significance and resulting restrictions.

"The bottom line is we want to sell it," said Flomen. "We think that the best person to buy it is the government, and just buy it and keep it as a whole.

"But if some guy comes along and wants to pay us what we think it is worth and wants to develop 50 houses and he can do it, so be it," he added.

Sugden said a home on the north side of the property existed prior to the designation.



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