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Niagara Falls
Monday, April 15, 2024
Letter of the Week: What provincial housing targets is NOTL so concerned about?
Letter writer Gienek Ksiazkiewicz asks where the town is getting it's housing targets from. FILE PHOTO

Dear editor:

There has been a lot of talk in various circles about the pressure on Niagara-on-the-Lake from the province to meet housing starts and increase density. 

Consultants acting on behalf of various high-density developers have seemingly referred to their high-density developments as a tangible avenue to meet these targets.

It’s a narrative that they are well-paid to advocate for. It is their job to do so.

The provincial government does track housing supply progress for each designated municipality.

Oddly, the Town of NOTL (a municipality) did not appear on Ontario’s web page that tracks the municipalities that have been assigned housing targets. 

Thinking that this was some administrative shortcoming, contact was made with the market housing policy branch of the ministry of municipal affairs and housing. It generated these statistics. 

The ministry was asked whether NOTL was in compliance with the housing start goals. 

A ministry official responded that “The Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake has not been assigned a housing target,” a stunning, gob-smacking statement.

There is no provincially mandated target for housing starts in NOTL.

So what is motivating town staff to recommend and town council to approve high-density developments helter skelter and to ignore the official plan?

In Lord Mayor Gary Zalepa’s presentation to the Ontario government’s Standing Committee on Heritage, Infrastructure and Cultural Policy at the Holiday Inn in St. Catharines he stated that “NOTL is on track to meet the growth and housing forecasts set by the region and province.” 

What provincial targets would he be referring to — because the ministry hasn’t set any targets? As well, the region does not mandate housing targets to the town and set growth/housing targets. 

As a result, it seems like all this talk, angst, pressure, urgency to build homes and the need for more housing and high-density developments in NOTL in order to meet the province’s housing starts is a bunch of nonsense. 

It really is perplexing why residents, town staff and councillors in NOTL are going through these costly, time-consuming, agonizing processes and deliberations when there doesn’t appear to be a need for any of it. 

Developers want to maximize profitability — that’s their business and modus operandi. The Town of NOTL needs to abide by its official plan and not continually gut it.

But then again, Lord Mayor Zalepa et al. can change the zoning for vacant pieces of land to make things work for high-density developments, can’t they?

This is an issue that all residents of NOTL should be very concerned about, including how decisions are made. There are a lot of unhappy residents in NOTL.

Does council think that the aging retirees of NOTL will develop Alzheimer’s or dementia during the time leading up to the next election, or maybe they think voter dementia already exists as a systemic condition of the residents of NOTL? 

Maybe they don’t care.

Gienek Ksiazkiewicz
St. Davids

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