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Niagara Falls
Wednesday, March 22, 2023
Letter: Hotel is inappropriate for old Parliament Oak site
Letter to the editor. File

Dear editor:

Newark (now Niagara-on-the-Lake) was the first capital of Upper Canada and sessions of Parliament were held in the Free Mason’s Lodge on King Street.

In the extreme heat one summer, the members of Parliament moved their desks and chairs outside to conduct their business under a stand of oak trees. It was on this site (donated by the town to the school board) that Parliament Oak school was built and opened in 1948.

In 1966, it was sold for $1 to the Niagara Public School Board (which became the District School Board of Niagara in 2013). That board closed the school in 2015 and declared it surplus one year later.

Although the town submitted an unconditional offer, over the asking price, the school board refused to sell the property to the town.

Now, the new owners of this culturally important site are proposing official plan and zoning bylaw amendments to permit the construction of a four-storey, 129-suite hotel with a restaurant, bar and event spaces.

All this will be in the middle of the established residential area of Old Town. The height, noise, traffic and density of this proposed development is totally inappropriate.

Introducing a commercial use into the middle of an established residential area betrays all the residents of this town and contravenes the official plan, which stipulates one of the goals and objectives for commercial areas is “to prevent the intrusion of commercial uses into residential areas.”

The official plan designates the property open space and community facilities, with the main uses being “active and passive neighbourhood parks, elementary schools, health care facilities, churches, day-care centres, cemeteries, museums, historic sites and similar community servicing uses.”

How much further from the intended use of this important site can this proposal for a commercial hotel be?

Community facilities and institutional zoning designations permit uses that serve the residents and future residents of the town. If this site is lost to commercial development, there is only one other property remaining for potential community facilities and institutional uses.

If the Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake wants to remain a real town with residents, families and maybe even a school, we need to prioritize the needs of the people who live here rather than the ones who merely visit and those who only want to reap riches through development as they overwhelm the town’s unique character.

If an institutional use is no longer viable, the official plan provides that the only purpose for which the property may be redeveloped is “low-density residential use,” one that is compatible with the surrounding established residential neighbourhood.

Connie Tintinalli

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