City hall de­fends in­dus­trial lands process

The Recorder & Times (Brockville) - - FRONT PAGE - RON­ALD ZAJAC

City hall did not give op­po­nents of a planned north-end in­dus­trial park enough no­tice be­fore quickly ap­prov­ing the plan late last month, op­po­nents of the pro­ject main­tain.

But Garth McGill, chair­man of Cit­i­zens for Progress with­out Hard­ship (CPH), de­clined to com­ment Wed­nes­day about whether the group plans to ap­peal coun­cil’s de­ci­sion, adding the mat­ter re­mains “un­der re­view.”

City of­fi­cials on Wed­nes­day re­it­er­ated that op­po­nents were given plenty of op­por­tu­ni­ties to voice their con­cerns and the ap­proval fol­lowed proper pro­ce­dure.

Brockville has ac­quired 130 acres of land along Vic­to­ria Road, Parkedale Av­enue West and Ste­wart Boule­vard with the aim of cre­at­ing a new com­mer­cial and in­dus­trial park. Within that area, the city is look­ing at 39.5 hectares (97.6 acres) of land that could be de­vel­oped in the near fu­ture, bro­ken into three phases.

Neigh­bours of the site formed CPH and op­pose re­zon­ing the area.

City coun­cil voted on Sept. 26 to adopt a “sec­ondary plan re­port” on the po­ten­tial in­dus­trial park, as well as of­fi­cial plan and zon­ing by­law amend­ments needed to turn the area into em­ploy­ment lands.

The de­ci­sion moves the city closer to mar­ket­ing the north-end land to po­ten­tial de­vel­op­ers. It also opens up a 20-day ap­peal pe­riod.

In the in­ter­ven­ing pe­riod McGill has said CPH was con­sid­er­ing fil­ing a com­plaint with the On­tario om­buds­man that the city con­tra­vened the Plan­ning Act about the is­suance of no­tices to the public; it has also been pon­der­ing an ap­peal to the On­tario Mu­nic­i­pal Board.

The CPH chair­man re­it­er­ated claims the city did not give res­i­dents enough no­ti­fi­ca­tion when, on the Fri­day be­fore the Sept. 26 meet­ing, it re­leased a large amount of doc­u­men­ta­tion, which McGill said amounted to 84 megabytes or 644 pages.

There was lit­tle time to process the in­for­ma­tion and coun­cil made “a ma­jor de­ci­sion with no de­bate,” added McGill.

The CPH chair­man said those cir­cum­stances sug­gest coun­cil made its de­ci­sion be­fore the meet­ing.

“There was too much done be­hind closed doors,” said McGill.

The mayor re­it­er­ated Wed­nes­day that op­po­nents have had years to con­vey their ob­jec­tions and re­jected claims any de­ci­sions were made out of the public eye.

“I’ve never seen any­thing that has been so ex­plic­itly in the public realm,” said Hen­der­son, adding the en­tire process has been “very trans­par­ent, very open, very much in the public eye.”

There was lit­tle dis­cus­sion at that cru­cial meet­ing be­cause the ar­gu­ments had al­ready been hashed out in public be­fore, said the mayor.

“There’s noth­ing new in there that’s sig­nif­i­cant that would change our dis­cus­sions or our ap­proach very much,” he added.

David Dick, the city’s act­ing direc­tor of plan­ning, said staff have con­cluded the process has been above board.

“We’ve cer­tainly met all the min­istry guide­lines about public no­tice,” said Dick.

Lit­tle of the in­for­ma­tion in the large vol­ume re­leased was new, Dick agreed.

“None of this has been done in closed ses­sion, so if it’s avail­able to coun­cil, it’s avail­able to the public as well.”

McGill said he was aware not all the in­for­ma­tion in the re­lease was new.

“I re­ally don’t know the per­cent­age,” he said.

McGill

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