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Niagara Falls
Sunday, July 14, 2024
Letter: Lord mayor should resign
Letter to the editor. File

Dear editor:

Recent planning decisions made in Niagara-on-the-Lake are so egregious that I believe the lord mayor, the members of council who voted in favour of them, and possibly the chief administrative officer, should resign.

During the past two municipal election campaigns, there was broad consensus among the candidates that the completion and approval of a new official plan for Niagara-on-the-Lake was key to preserving the town’s unique heritage and character.

The rationale given was that a revised official plan would give council a vital tool in its efforts to control future development in our town.

The plan was, I believe, ultimately approved by both Niagara-on-the-Lake and Niagara Region. It sets out a blueprint for existing and future land use in the town, which is backed up through regulation — zoning decisions and bylaws.

As was made clear in a recent Ontario Land Tribunal decision on a development in Fort Erie, a municipal official plan carries some clout when it comes to determining what developers can build in Ontario towns and where they can do so.

It stands to reason, therefore, that the first thing our town planners should do when they consider a development proposal is to assess whether the proposal conforms to NOTL’s official plan. If it doesn’t, the town should reject the proposal and is within its rights under Ontario law to do so.

But that’s not what appears to be happening.

Instead, our town planners seem to be focused on provincial legislation and to have used it as the primary basis to recommend approval of development projects that clearly do not conform to Niagara-on-the-Lake’s official plan. They are doing so despite the wording in the Ontario Municipal Act that appears to give priority to official plans when it comes to development decisions.

That was clearly an issue when the town went to the Ontario Land Tribunal in an effort to stop the new apartment building that appears destined to be built at the south end of King Street.

Ultimately, it’s up to the lord mayor and council to set clear direction for the CAO and town planning staff with regards to our official plan being the first consideration when it comes to future planning decisions.

It’s also their job to ensure that direction is followed.

However, recent planning decisions suggest that they have not done so or are not willing to do so. This issue is not only about a litany of broken election promises, it’s about the future of our town.

Terry Davis

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