At the April 23 city council meeting, I voted against the approval of the Fruitland-Winona Secondary Plan. This is a very convoluted file that started in 2007. The plan was released in 2010 prior to my election. Since that time, I have spent endless hours with staff and members of the public to address the public’s and my concerns.
Last spring, the City of Hamilton planning committee held the required public meeting. However, because the Hamilton Urban Official Plan was approved prior to this plan being approved by the minister, the public process had to be started again. The second public meeting was held last November at the Stoney Creek Municipal Centre.
At that time, after another marathon meeting, the planning committee passed a motion “to allow the ward councillor to work with staff and residents to amend the current plan.” At this meeting, I voted against the secondary plan for four reasons: density, height, the community park positioning and the lack of a confirmed south route for the collector road.
On April 15, the planning committee heard a presentation from staff that highlighted changes that occurred as a result of a Feb. 6 open house. The park was set back from those properties on Barton Street and a neighbourhood park was planned for the interim. Other than that, nothing had changed.
After all the effort that has been put into this file, why wouldn’t council listen? As one resident stated, “the community expected more.” The residents have very clearly stated their concerns and they were essentially ignored. If council insists on ignoring the community, can we not at least listen to a $1.2 billion agriculture industry?
Agricultural lands are protected by two different provincial ministries, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing and the Ministry of Natural Resources. Even this municipality has made a commitment to protect these lands. We comment that Maple Leaf and Canada Bread are accessory to our agricultural industry and chose to be situated in a city that is 65 per cent agricultural.
The planning committee learned that the minister of MMAH determined that green development density should be 70 persons/jobs per hectare in 2011. I would argue that the minister could take another look at the 70 persons/jobs per hectare density number if the issue of air drainage was presented. Air drainage is a recognized phenomenon that impacts the optimum use of agricultural lands, especially in relation to the Niagara Escarpment. I successfully moved that the Fruitland-Winona Plan have air drainage studies included. We protect wetlands, ANSI, Core and Heritage lands. Why don’t we follow the same process for agriculture lands? Putting intense housing in the Fruitland-Winona area will have a very significant negative impact on our agricultural land use. Developers in the area have stated they have no intention of building higher. Why would we cause the local businesses more hardship by applying for official plan amendments to build exactly what the public have been asking for?
I requested to be recorded as opposed to this secondary plan for the Fruitland-Winona lands. The density is too high, the heights are too high, the community park is in the wrong location and the southbound collector road hasn’t been decided. My residents deserve to be heard. This plan did not listen.
As always, should you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact me at 905-546-4513 or email Brenda.Johnson@hamilton.ca or www.brendajohns.ca