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Councillor Brenda Johnson speaks during a 2013 public meeting for the Fruitland-Winona plan.

Fruitland-Winona plan approved, for now

By Kevin Werner, News staff

Stoney Creek councillor Brenda Johnson remained defiant, voting against the Fruitland-Winona Secondary Plan because it doesn’t reflect what homeowners in the community want.

“My residents need to be heard,” said Johnson at the April 23 council meeting. “And this plan doesn’t listen to them.”

Despite Johnson’s and Flamborough councillor Robert Pasuta’s opposition to the secondary plan, the rest of council endorsed it for the second time in a year.

The complicated planning document, which has been under discussion for about seven years, has met with severe opposition from residents, particularly taxpayers living along the Fruitland Road area, Barton Street and parts of Winona who fear their properties will be subjected to expropriation by the city and the school board.

Last year councillors approved the secondary plan — with Johnson in opposition — and a few months later the document had been appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board by a number of residents.

Soon after, due to a bureaucratic mix up caused by another OMB ruling on the city’s official plan, the Fruitland-Winona Secondary Plan had to be voted on again by council to include it in the new official plan. In the meantime, city staff attempted to modify the plan. Last February city officials held a public session where residents could examine the plan again and talk with officials. About 240 people attended the Winona Vine Estates for the event.

Residents expressed concerns about the 70 people and jobs per hectare, the height issue, which would impact the area’s tender fruit farming, the Fruitland Road bypass, the location of the community park and expropriation. Council did approve a separate motion saying the city would not expropriate residential land for city projects. Councillors also further reduced the height requirement from four storeys to three and a half. Originally, the secondary plan had a six-storey limit on buildings along Barton Street.

But Johnson said staff did not make any significant changes on  homeowners’ main issues. Johnson attempted to reduce the density from 70 people and jobs to 50, a proposal that city planning staff would not support because it would violate the province’s Places to Grow legislation.

“The community had expected more,” said Johnson. “They were essentially ignored.”

But Stoney Creek’s other councillors argued after a difficult process, the plan is a good compromise.

“It’s a secondary plan,” said Maria Pearson, of Ward 10. “This is workable.”

Ward 9 councillor Brad Clark said staff, politicians and residents all “shared the pain” of working through the difficult issues.

“It’s reasonable, pragmatic,” he said. “Most (residents) are comfortable (with the plan).”

Clark again complimented the hard work city planning staff has done throughout the sometimes difficult process. He reiterated, as he did at the planning committee meeting, the critical comments staff and councillors had to endure from some residents that took on a nasty tone.

A petition signed by about 830 people urged councillors and planning staff to review a plan approved by the community liaison committee that had been created to encourage public input into the planning process. The city had rejected the proposal since it was first presented in 2009.

Home builders and other developers have thrown their support behind the plan, which only infuriated residents further.

The secondary plan includes the area bordered by Fruitland and Fifty roads, Barton Street and Highway 8. It is expected to accommodate about 21,000 people over the next 20 years. The plan includes a gateway feature, the creation of a Barton Street promenade, a Jones Road Neighbourhood trail and a Winona Road commercial area.

As part of the plan’s approval, the needed transportation infrastructure for the area will be done at the same time as the area is developed.

Despite council’s approval, it is expected the secondary plan will be appealed to the OMB by some residents.

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