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Niagara Falls
Tuesday, May 28, 2024
Letter: Tribunal erred and town needs to appeal condo ruling
Letter to the editor. File

This is an abridged version of a letter to town council about a condominium proposed in Old Town.

We vigorously encourage the Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake to appeal the decision of the Ontario Land Tribunal  in favour of the developer of 733 King St.

In reading the comments of the developer’s witnesses, it seems town staff did not have the opportunity to present a complete picture of the impact of such a development on this neighbourhood, including numerous submissions and discussions about high-density, traffic impact and conformity with existing dwellings.

Before any kind of alternative property use was discussed with the town and the community, the developer submitted the proposal to the tribunal simply based on the town’s rightful decision to not allow a zoning bylaw change.  

A similar development proposal in Crystal Beach, which was opposed by the Town of Fort Erie and the community, had a totally different result after the municipality outlined how the plan did not conform to Fort Erie’s official plan.

The tribunal ruled that projectwas not consistent with the character of the surrounding established residential  neighbourhood,” wasn’t intended for infilling and intensification, wasn’t within convenient walking distance of the elements of a traditional neighbourhood and didn’t include adequate open space.

Each of those points is identical to concerns expressed regarding the King Street proposal in NOTL.

The tribunal also concluded the Fort Erie project didn’t conform to the town’s official plan or vision for the waterfront area.

Had NOTL presented similar evidence the decision could easily have been different.

Council is well aware of many developers’ greed to maximize building on every vacant piece of property, regardless of its impact on the existing neighbourhood or the community at large.

With the ruling on the King Street site, no properties are protected by the official plan nor the influence of those we elect or employ to carry out those mandates.

NOTL has an official plan and residents were involved in creating it. Part of council’s job is to represent the majority of the community for current and future development plans.

The official plan amendment ordered by the tribunal clearly contravenes the Planning Act, which even the tribunal noted dictates that no bylaw shall be approved by the tribunal if it does not conform with a municipal official plan.

Accordingly, the tribunal decision is an error in law and thus subject to appeal by the town because the imposed amendments violate provisions of the official plan.

If council accepts the tribunal’s decision, it will establish a precedent affecting all developments already under discussion and future ones being concocted by those who view  open space and vistas as an opportunity to increase their personal wealth. 

We look forward to your choice in this matter. The future of our town is in your hands and history will view this time as the pillaging of Upper Canada’s first capital, our unique community, architecture and landscape.

Jim and Erika Alexander

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