- By Mike Williscraft
Grimsby council issued a formal invitation to Niagara West MPP Sam Oosterhoff to attend the next meeting of council to discuss the provincial government’s release of two parcels of Green- belt land for development.
The move, under Bill 23, has met with significant opposition on many fronts. For council, while planning processes and economic impact of capped development charges are at the front of the line when it comes to concerns, the dark cloud over all of it is uncertainty on key components.
During Grimsby council on Monday night regarding a controversial twist to the issue – a Niagara Region planning report received at regional council last Thursday which recommend- ed removing even more Greenbelt lands – Coun. Delight Davoli said more information is needed on several fronts.
“We need to be on firmer ground,” said Davoli, adding the current climate “has too many variables.”
Council agreed and that was part of the reason Oosterhoff was issued the invite after a motion was passed by council to request his presence.
Premier Doug Ford’s government has approved the release of lands at 321 Hunter Road, a lot on the lake at Hunter and Winston Road owned by New Horizon Development Group – and a second parcel bordered by Oakes Road, Kelson Road, CN rail tracks and existing housing
to the north.
In the planning report, which regional councillors saw for the first time at Thursday’s meeting, approval of the first two parcels removal is included – with an added suggestion, which also brings Town of Lincoln into play.
“Further, staff recommend discussions with the Province regarding two additional sites, lands south of the future Grimsby GO Station and lands within the Prudhomme’s Secondary Plan (Beacon) to recognize challenges associated with achieving a Transit Oriented Community and existing historical uses,” reads the report.
Regarding the regional council debate, Coun. Veronica Charrois raised concerns regarding Grimsby’s represented position at the meeting.
Noting Grimsby had a special meeting of council to get its position on the record, Charrois noted her surprise at the stance regional planning has taken.
“Now we get blind- sided by the Region who basically say, ‘We don’t care. We’re going to do our own thing,” said Charrois, adding, “I was try- ing to get a sense of where our regional representation was on this matter.”
Reg. Coun. Michelle Seaborn told council six representatives opposed the regional planning report – not- ing Grimsby, Lincoln and West Lincoln representatives were included in that group.
However, Niagara Region’s clerks office confirmed six did oppose – Coun. Leanna Villella, Coun. Pat Chiocchio, Coun. Jeff Jordan, Coun. Andrea Kaiser, Coun. Brian Heit and Coun. Wayne Redekop.
Seaborn can be viewed in the regional council recording sup- porting receiving the report.
In an email Tuesday, Seaborn noted, “We received the ‘Proposed changes to the Greenbelt’ report just hours before our first regional meeting…The wording of the motion, after a lengthy discussion did lead my vote to endorse, when receiving the report was my intention. Six turned it down.”
For Jordan, he said regional council not rejecting the report was an error.
“All the province will see is that regional council did not reject it,” said Jordan, adding receipt of the report at the council table was bad form and “blind- sided” council.
Lincoln Reg. Coun. Rob Foster noted the report dealt with two specific parcels, not the merits of moving more land out and he did vote in favour of receiving the report.
On Monday, Oosterhoff confirmed a meeting has been set up in his Beamsville office with Grimsby officials to review Bill 23 details. At that point, council had not extended the formal invite to attend council.