The Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake staff’s report to council regarding the proposed King Street apartment project strongly favoured supporting the proposed complex as submitted by the developer, Josh Bice of Butler’s Gardens Development Inc., (“Staff supports King Street condo,” The Lake Report, Jan. 25).
In response to the town’s staff report, a special council meeting was held on Jan. 24.
First: kudos to council for having open public discussions and comments regarding the staff report before making the final decision to support the project or not.
In preparation for this meeting, a number of residents prepared a list of concerns to the staff response and my presentation focused on the four additional amendments to the proposed building plan – even though the developer constantly insisted that he was in compliance with the official plan with no need for additional amendments.
But on Dec. 21, 2023, he requested four additional amendments to the official plan because he had now decided to change the orientation of the building.
New requests included access to a local street, parking on the front and side of the building, moving the main entrance to the side of the building and, lastly, to increase the rear setback.
All these requests legally require the town to hold a public meeting and therefore the full proposal should be halted until such a meeting is held.
But the staff report felt the requests were “appropriate” or just chose to not comment and thereby recommended that the proposal move forward with the proposed changes to the Ontario Land Tribunal.
Ultimately council voted in favour (5-2) of Coun. Sandra O’Connor’s motion to NOT support the staff recommendation to accept the developer’s proposal and NOT redesignate the lands from low density. (Couns. Erwin Wiens and Nick Ruller were absent.)
Lord Mayor Gary Zalepa indicated that the tribunal’s impending decision will lead to massive disappointment.
I guess that could be interpreted to mean some town officials have already given up and now should just roll over to allow the developer to control our community growth at the expense of our heritage, official plan, tourism industry and whatever pleases the developer.
Congratulations to Couns. Tim Balasiuk, Gary Burroughs, Wendy Cheropita, Maria Mavridis and O’Connor, who took a stand to promote, protect and preserve our town from those who lack the understanding, appreciation, insight and pride in our town being the first capital of Upper Canada and Canada’s most unique and living heritage community.
I trust that notwithstanding the staff recommendation was not accepted by council, the town will now put its full efforts into winning in front of the land tribunal.