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St. Catharines Standard: Plan for Port Dalhousie
Karena Walter | January 30, 2018

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Long-awaited plan for Port Dalhousie arrives

From Issue No. 266 | February 12, 2018

File photo of Murphy's Tavern in Port Dalhousie from Tuesday April 25 2017. Bob Tymczyszyn/St. Catharines Standard/Postmedia Network  Port

File photo of Murphy's Tavern in Port Dalhousie from Tuesday April 25 2017Print

City council has been presented its long-awaited draft Port Dalhousie secondary master plan Monday, but some members of the public are disappointed it took so long. 

“You’ve done a great job, but it’s just too late,” said Colin Johnston, president of the St. Catharines branch of the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario, during a three-hour public meeting at city hall Monday.

He added he couldn’t believe the process started in 2015 and was being discussed in 2018.

“You knew development was in the offing. You should have nailed this one down.”

Council ordered a secondary plan and heritage conservation district study for the Port Dalhousie commercial core and harbour areas in April 2015 and hired a consultant a year later in April 2016.

The secondary plan provides land use policies, such as maximum building heights, aimed at guiding development in the area.

Lorelei Jones of consultant Macaulay Shiomi Howson Ltd. said new development applications submitted to the city before the secondary plan is adopted will be governed by existing official plan policies.

Hank Beekhuis, president of the Port Dalhousie Conservancy, told council there are four condo developments underway in the area and the city needs to worry about the total impact of all the developments together.

“We need and deserve a holistic approach rather than a piecemeal one. That’s what the secondary plan should be about,” he said.

Beekhuis said it was obvious the plan presented Monday was heavily influenced by the consideration of the proposed developments and those were driving the outcome, rather than public opinion. He said the plan appears to be accommodating those developments rather than just following good planning practices.

“The secondary plan should drive the developments. The developments should not drive the secondary plan as appears to be the case,” he said.

Beekhuis said it was highly unfortunate all the development proposals were in before the community decided what direction it wants to go in by approving the secondary plan. He said there’s still concerns with height, volume, parking and traffic in the area.

Johnston said council’s ordering of a secondary plan was proactive and progressive but the biggest gap was that it hadn’t been approved.

“This is upside down,” Johnston told council. “This is the cart before the horse. You’re closing the barn door when the horses got out.”

Resident Ed Smith echoed Johnston’s concerns about a delay, saying he was somewhat disappointed in the process which seemed to be “topsy-turvy.”

Council requested a city staff report in December explaining why the secondary plan was taking longer than expected.

A report from director of planning and building services Jim Riddell, included in council packages Monday, said the project has been “challenging” and staff were trying to strike a balance of all interests within the study — the public, council, development and property owners, heritage committees and Port Dalhousie Business Improvement Association.

Riddell’s report said planning staff were also delayed with other workload pressures. They included a housing action plan study approved in June 2017, the infill housing zoning bylaw study approved in May 2017, Niagara Region’s GO hub study and related secondary plan requiring city time, a rental housing licencing bylaw and work on the heritage grant program review.

Editors Notes: Catherine Nasmith Architect was the heritage consultant for the HCD update done at the same time as the Secondary Plan.
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