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Thursday, June 13, 2024
Rand Estate hearing won’t resume until July 29
The historic Rand Estate is the site of an ongoing legal dispute which will determine how the site is developed for the future. EVAN LOREE

A provincial hearing that could decide the fate of development on the Rand Estate is on hiatus until later this summer.

The Ontario Land Tribunal has been hearing submissions about Solmar Development Corp.’s proposal to build a 193-unit subdivision on the historic Rand Estate since April 9. 

The hearings are scheduled to resume on July 29, according to a schedule on the Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake’s Join the Conversation page for the Rand Estate.

The Save Our Rand Estate group, a residents organization participating in the hearings, will present the remainder of its witnesses to the tribunal for cross-examination before the town makes its case.

Brendan Stewart, a landscape architect advocating for an alternative site plan pitched by SORE, testified May 15.

Solmar’s proposed road access, which would go through an existing entrance in the wall at 200 John St. E., is “too problematic,” he said in his witness statement.

He said the same of Solmar’s proposed emergency entrance to the subdivision, off Charlotte Street near the Upper Canada Heritage Trail.

Solmar lawyer Mark Flowers pressed him on the issue.

“Maybe it’s non-viable, maybe there’s no option that’s viable,” Stewart said.

“If there’s no option that’s viable, then there’s no development? Correct?” Flowers asked.

“I suppose,” Stewart said.

In his witness statement, Stewart said the emergency entrance at Charlotte is not an option because it would require redeveloping part of the heritage trail into a roadway.

And the entrance on John Street doesn’t work because of how it affects the estates’ heritage features, like a sunken garden, designed by famed landscape architects Lorrie Dunnington and Howard Grubb, he said.

SORE proposes the best place to build a vehicle entrance to the Rand Estate is between 144 and 176 John St.

“Any of these access alternatives is going to have some impact,” Flowers said.

Stewart agreed.

“Redevelopment is the vehicle to conserve this important site,”  he said.

Flowers asked if preventing development would therefore jeopardize the heritage assets, prompting Stewart to reiterate his concerns with Solmar’s proposed access.

Last Thursday, the tribunal heard testimony from SORE experts, who spoke about sewage servicing plans for the future subdivision.

Tara Chisholm, an engineering expert retained by SORE, said Solmar’s sewage servicing plans were inadequate.

The company plans to dispose of sewage using pumping stations.

In her witness statement, Chisholm said these “should only be used when there are no other feasible options for gravity servicing.”

Solmar initially considered using gravity sewers, said Fedor Tchourkine, an engineer retained by Solmar.

In his reply statement to Chisholm, he said those plans had to be revised because there were concerns about raising the landscape high enough to accommodate the sewers.

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