The Hamilton Spectator

Developers push boundary-busting pitch at tribunal

Councillor calls 4,800-home proposal on White Church Road East a ‘non-starter’


Another group of developers aiming to build thousands of homes on rural land — once part of an urban expansion the province imposed on Hamilton but later reversed — has launched a tribunal appeal against the city.

The Whitechurc­h Landowners Group has mapped out a developmen­t plan for an 805-acre urban expansion area that includes roughly 4,800 homes on agricultur­al and other parcels of land just east of Mount Hope in Glanbrook.

Asked about the Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT) appeal, Coun. Mark Tadeson calls the developmen­t proposal a “non-starter.”

“It didn’t make sense when it was first proposed; it makes less sense now, and it wouldn’t even make sense in 2051,” Tadeson told The Spectator, referring to the province’s long-term growth horizon for municipali­ties.

The developers’ OLT challenge follows the Tory government’s decision to take back a roughly 5,000acre urban boundary expansion into farmland late last year amid pushback from anti-sprawl advocates and city council.

The boundary U-turn, which also reversed land-use changes in other municipali­ties, followed a pair of scathing provincial watchdog reports into the government’s separate, and also rescinded, Greenbelt carve-outs that pointed to a highly politicize­d exercise tainted by developer influence. Members of the Whitechurc­h group — which includes prominent developers Paul Paletta, Sergio Manchia and Frank Spallacci — didn’t respond to The Spectator’s requests for comment. Likewise, planning consultant Matt Johnston couldn’t be reached.

The renewed rural status of their property, along White Church Road East between Miles and Airport roads, means the consortium’s developmen­t plans can’t proceed.

But like an OLT appeal filed by the Upper West Group, which similarly hopes to develop scrapped expansion lands along Twenty Road West, the Whitechurc­h challenge focuses narrowly on the city’s take that its secondary plan lacked documentat­ion and details.

Based on technical studies, secondary plans deal with community elements like schools, stormwater ponds, roads and recreation centres. They’re needed before any shovels can break ground.

In a Jan. 12 notice to Johnston, the city flags a slew of incomplete or missing studies, ranging from environmen­tal work to future municipal infrastruc­ture costs and public consultati­on.

The “restricted timelines” that the province’s walk-back legislatio­n imposed meant his clients weren’t able to do “all the analysis necessary” to produce some supporting materials the city required, Johnston wrote in an affidavit submitted to the OLT.

“As the timelines set out by Bill 150 were out of the applicants control, it is my opinion that deeming the applicatio­n incomplete in relation to studies which could not have been completed in the time frame provided is unreasonab­le and should not preclude the applicatio­n from being considered by city staff.” The consortium, which owns roughly 300 acres of the proposed 805-acre expansion area, envisions elementary schools, parks, a recreation­al trail and 439,000 square feet of commercial use alongside roughly 4,800 homes. Those would range from single-detached to stacked townhouses and mid-rise buildings.

Irrespecti­ve of the OLT dispute’s outcome, the Whitechurc­h consortium, like the Upper West Side group, still faces the obstacle of land outside of the urban area.

Outside of provincial­ly imposed expansions and those subject to municipal reviews, developers can still pitch individual urban boundary adjustment­s of up to roughly 100 acres.

Municipal councils have final say on those, but Tadeson and other city politician­s have expressed no desire to revisit an expansion of Hamilton’s urban footprint.

With a forecast of 820,000 people living in Hamilton by 2051, the current council, like the previous one, has opted to corral growth within the city’s existing urban area, rather than building homes on outlying rural lands, citing the potential infrastruc­ture and environmen­tal costs of residentia­l sprawl.

“This applicatio­n essentiall­y leapfrogs over thousands of acres of rural land from the hydro corridor to the south in Glanbrook,” Tadeson told The Spectator.

The White Church Road East developmen­t would destroy local ponds and woodlots, which provide habitat for wildlife and pose safety hazards for area residents living along rural roads, he argued.

“That’s why I can’t support this now and will not support this even in 2051.”

The OLT hasn’t yet posted any dates for case proceeding­s.

 ?? ?? The owners of land along White Church Road at Miles Road in Glanbrook have launched an appeal before the Ontario Land Tribunal.
The owners of land along White Church Road at Miles Road in Glanbrook have launched an appeal before the Ontario Land Tribunal.
 ?? ?? Coun. Mark Tadeson:
“It wouldn’t even make sense in 2051.”
Coun. Mark Tadeson: “It wouldn’t even make sense in 2051.”

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