City hall defends industrial lands process
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.