Council Denies FairTradeWorks Application for Re-zoning

Marmora and Lake - Council has denied a developer’s re-zoning application for a 20-unit rental project in the downtown based on a lack of adequate parking and concerns of traffic congestion on Highway 7.

At its November 6, 2018 planning meeting, council discussed FairTradeWorks’ re-zoning application for 25 and 29 Forsyth Street at length, with Mayor Terry Clemens stating that council absolutely wants to see the development move forward, but feels FairTradeWorks planners need to find alternate solutions to the community’s and council’s concerns.

“In my opinion, we need this new building downtown. We need the old buildings removed and new ones to come,” he said. “We don’t want people to think we’re trying to run a development out, but there needs to be some added work done. If the developer can work harder with our municipality, it can be done.”

Clemens said council had reviewed a 40-plus page report from Hastings County’s planning department, and although the county’s recommendation was to pass the requested amendments, council did not agree.

The proposed development would see a four-storey, 20-unit apartment building erected in the downtown core. FairTradeWorks has already successfully built The Bleeckers, a 10-unit building geared toward active seniors aged 55 and over.

Councillor Sandy Fraser said his main concern with the application was the lack of a suitable entrance to the complex.

FairTradeWorks has proposed 27 parking spaces, with four being leased from a business owner in a parking area behind the property, and 20 being located under the building. All of these parking spaces would be accessed via Highway 7.

“Where I have a problem is when you get off Highway 7. It’s very busy there - you have the Service Ontario, the tourism centre, the splash pad and the playground. In the summer it gets really congested there. We have a lot of kids playing in that area.”

Deputy Mayor Linda Bracken agreed, stating that a traffic study from local consultant Greer Galloway didn’t paint an accurate picture of the traffic situation.

“Although we have a report with respect to the traffic, we live here, we see the traffic going in and out and it’s very busy,” she said.

Bracken added that a possible solution would be to have traffic enter the property north of Forsyth Street, which would re-route traffic behind the Bleekers’ property and into a municipally owned parking lot, where it could access parking for the proposed development.

“In the beginning of the discussion period there was talk of going through Madoc Street as a conceptual idea,” she added. “That would certainly look after many concerns that we have for the safety of the public and the safety of our seniors.”

Aside from entrance issues, council also expressed concern with FairTradeWorks’ request to lease four parking spaces from a local business for tenant usage. The lease would be up after a year.

“This does not make us feel comfortable about the four additional parking spaces. If the lease had been for 10 years it might have been different,” said Deputy Mayor Bracken. “There’s no plan B.”

Council voted unanimously to deny the application, noting the decision had to be made by November 22 as per planning legislation. FairTradeWorks may now make a new application or choose to appeal council’s decision within 20 days of the Notice of Decision distributed by the Clerk.

Megan Abraham
Manager of Economic Development/Tourism

Jennifer BennettComment