By Kevin Werner, News Staff
Tim McCabe, Hamilton’s general manager of planning shocked Stoney Creek politicians telling them the city may have to do the contentious Winona-Fruitland Secondary Plan process all over again.
“We will have to be patient and accept some of the bumps in the road,” McCabe told members of the Sept. 4 planning committee meeting.
McCabe said since the Ontario Municipal Board finally approved most of the city’s urban official plan this week, it means the official plans of the former suburban areas, including Stoney Creek are null and void.
“(The Stoney Creek Official Plan) has been rescinded by the OMB,” said McCabe. “Now we have to amend the (new cityof Hamilton’s) official plan.”
He said the city will have to add the Winona-Fruitland Secondary Plan, which was approved by councillors in June, to the city’s new official plan. It means, he said, city staff will have to make the necessary recommendations, hold another public meeting, and have councillors vote on it again.
McCabe said the substance of the secondary plan will not change under the new official plan.
The city’s legal staff have reviewed the situation, and determined that a new planning process should be done for the secondary plan. McCabe said city staff is still examining the implications of the OMB decision on the secondary plan to determine how long it will take for the process to re-start.
McCabe said one advantage of going through the process again is city staff may be able to eliminate some of the 16 appeals that have been made against the Winona-Fruitland Secondary Plan.
“We can see how valid their appeals are,” he said.
Stoney Creek’s three councillors were caught off guard by the McCabe’s announcement, and expressed their anger and frustration at the turn of events.
Maria Pearson said residents and developers are already in the process of hiring planning consultants, and preparing their arguments to appear before the OMB.
“Residents have already paid for their applications,” she said. “I’m still very concerned about this.”
Brad Clark couldn’t understand how city staff could allow the document to move through the planning process if there was a chance the Stoney Creek Official Plan would be eliminated.
“It looks incredibly bad,” he said. “I want to know where to lay the blame. This is a bad process. This is not what I expected.”
Brenda Johnson, who represents the area affected, was equally upset.
“I will get lots of emails and phone calls. I will wear this,” she said.
Johnson suggested opponents of the secondary plan will now use the bureaucratic situation to their advantage in an attempt to overturn council’s decision.
But McCabe said from a legal point of view, the city followed the proper planning procedure. He argued it would have been unwise to hold off on passing the secondary plan. It was unknown when the OMB process would be completed with regard to the city’s urban official plan, which has been slowly moving forward over the past year. The city’s rural official plan had been approved by the OMB and taken effect in March 2012.
“It was legal at the time,” he said. “Planning had to continue. We didn’t know how long it would go. That was a risk we were taking.”
The controversial secondary plan, which was first proposed in 2007, has created a lot of hard feelings within the Winona andFruitland Road areas. Residents have opposed such proposals as increasing the density in the area, especially along Barton Street, the possible threats to the area’s tender fruit farmers, and realigningFruitland Roadto the east.
The plan also includes a gateway feature, aWinona Roadcommercial area, and increasing the density for the area by 73 people and jobs per hectare to accommodate about 21,000 more people. The plan immediately impacts the lands bordered by Fruitland and Fifty roads, and Barton Street to Highway 8.
A Stoney Creek Urban Boundary Expansion community advisory committee, created about 2007, had recommended a revised secondary plan in 2009. But city officials rejected the committee’s recommendations, and recommended their own plan for the area.