By Mike Pearson, News staff
Despite assurances that homeowners’ properties won’t be expropriated for parkland, the city should expect a showdown at the Ontario Municipal Board over the newly revised Fruitland Winona secondary plan.
During a Feb. 6 community meeting, Ward 11 councillor Brenda Johnson said she plans to introduce a motion at the April 15 planning committee meeting to prohibit the city from expropriating land to create a community park. City planning staff is also looking at reducing the height requirements for developments along Barton Street. It has already been reduced from six to four storeys.
But Cal DiFalco, chair of a now-dissolved community advisory committee, said the city is still attempting to force a wrong-headed plan on the community that will increase building densities, boost congestion, create higher traffic volumes, and have a negative impact on tender fruit farming.
If the new plan wins the support of Hamilton’s planning committee and city councillors, DiFalco plans to be among those who will challenge the document through an OMB appeal. DiFalco has unsuccessfully urged the city to return to a plan the committee initially endorsed in 2009.
DiFalco was among dozens of area residents who attended the open house and public information session for the secondary plan, held at Winona Vine Estates.
Vic Rottaris, another area resident, fears Fruitland and Winona could resemble the bedroom community of Binbrook when the secondary plan is fully implemented. It’s estimated that the Fruitland and Winona areas could accommodate more than 15,000 residents once development is complete.
“It’ll destroy the area,” said Rottaris. “We’ll lose that country charm. I look at Binbrook and it just makes me sick. If you already know it’s a problem there, why would you repeat it here?”
Elsie Chappel, a Fruitland Road resident, said she received assurances as early as 1984 that her road would be converted to a cul-de-sac at Barton Street, to divert heavy truck traffic. Today the traffic is so heavy that Chappel said she is forced to wait up to 15 minutes to get in and out of her driveway. Families avoid the area on Halloween night because the traffic makes the area unsafe for trick-or-treating, she said.
“Every year it justs get worse and worse,” Chappel said.
Steve Robichaud, city director of planning, said officials conducted an environmental assessment in 2010 which included revisting a 1992 option for the cul-de-sac, doing nothing or constructing an alternative new road.
Initially, staff recommended doing nothing, but because a promise was made to the residents to respond to traffic concerns, staff recommended a new road allignment, as shown on the draft secondary plan.
Robichaud said city staff performed truck counts on Fruitland Road which showed the collector road was carrying about 80 trucks per day, including school buses, garbage trucks and other utility vehicles. In looking at the options, staff recommended that a new road be constructed. But Robichaud said staff have determined there’s still no urgent need to close Fruitland Road.
A 1992 plan included an escarpment crossing from Barton Street and Fruitland Road to Tapleytown Road, which was opposed by the Niagara Escarpment Commission. Over time, said Robichaud, it was determined there was no need for the crossing.
“Because of the natural features, it was felt that the 1992 alignment was not the preferred alignment,” said Robichaud. “Instead, (staff) went ahead with the recommended option…which is currently the option which has been incorporated into the secondary plan.”
Fruitland Road residents have continued to oppose the secondary plan, arguing the proposed bypass from Barton to an unknown intersection on Highway 8 is wrong and should revert back to the 1992 plan that included dead-ending Fruitland Road.
On Feb. 28, the open house and public information centre feedback report will be posted on the city website. A staff report on the secondary plan will be released on March 31.
The plan will be presented for approval at an April 15 planning committee meeting and an April 23 council meeting.
-With files from kevin Werner