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Niagara Falls
Saturday, July 13, 2024
Letter: Parliament Oak plan is a battle worth fighting
Letter to the editor. File

Dear editor:

Ron Fritz’s July 4 letter said the “town must pick and choose its legal battles.

Precisely, and the Parliament Oak application was simply one that the town has botched from the outset.

Had the town simply acquiesced when the school board demanded written assurances that the property would not be used for education purposes (as happened with the high school with verbal assurances) the town would now own this valuable community property.

That ship has sailed, but not all was lost until now.

We have all heard how the Ontario Land Tribunal sides irrevocably with the developers when the town’s official plan is challenged and how the regional plan and provincial law and policy statements trump everything the town’s plan tries to accomplish.

Where that may be true with simple or even complex modifications to increase density in a residentially zoned area, it is simply not true regarding the core principles of a town’s plan.

I think it is highly unlikely the same lens would be applied by the tribunal when considering changing an institutional zoned property in the middle of a residential neighbourhood to commercial.

I’m afraid there is a disconnect between our elected officials, town staff and what our plan states unequivocally: 10.2 Goals and Objectives (8) “To prevent the intrusion of commercial uses into residential areas.”

The plan also states in section 10.3 (3) referencing the Pillar and Post, et al.: ”However,  it is not intended that these uses form nodes for expanded general commercial activity”.

This application is a request to change the very function of the property and heart of Old Town. I wonder if the lord mayor or deputy lord mayor would go along with the proposal if it was changed from agricultural to commercial on Line 1 or the Mori property?

The last appeal to the OMB by this applicant in Old Town was the Ann Street condo apartment which was, I think, negotiated out/settled in 2014-15. and, then finally built as townhouses in 2018 as he was unable to sell what he had approved.

What happens if the five-star hotel won’t fly at Parliament Oak? Might we end up with a Comfort Inn??

Frankly, I may be naive but I’m much more inclined to vote for and respect a councillor who is prepared to defend the town on principles rather than acquiesce to the demands of developers.

It seems those principles need to be better communicated to our staff by our elected officials. The commercial areas of Old Town are specified in our plan and this property does not fall within it.

Furthermore if it were an application to modify to residential it might have some success at the tribunal, but given the ask of commercial, this might have been one of those cases worth battling for a better resolution.

And if it meant another couple hundred dollars in taxes, I would be happy to pay.

Bob Bader

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