Council votes in favour of re-zoning ‘park’

Duane Hicks

Council passed a bylaw to re-zone the “Nelson Street Park” for residential development last night but it looks like opponents will appeal the decision to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB).
Council voted 6-1 in favour of amending the zoning bylaw to re-zone the property, located between Minnie Avenue and Williams Avenue, from open space to Residential Type 2 (R2), with only Coun. John Albanese voting against it.
Several neighbourhood residents voiced their displeasure with the decision, noting they plan to file an appeal with the OMB, which, in turn, may set a date for an appeal hearing.
“Yes we’re disappointed, but I can honestly say none of us are really shocked because we believe that the town’s council mind was made up long before Dec. 12,” charged Kalan Kielczewski, who has helped spearhead the campaign against the re-zoning.
“We feel that they met with us not because they wanted to, only because they had to.
“We do plan on appealing to the OMB,” Kielczewski stressed. “This does not end here tonight, not for us.
“We’re going to see this through to the bitter end.”
Some residents on hand for the meeting also alleged a member of the committee of adjustment may have had a conflict of interest in recommending to council that the property be re-zoned, as that individual may want to purchase some of it in the future.
However, the Times learned this morning that while the committee of adjustment member moved (i.e., put to the floor for a vote) the resolution in favour of re-zoning the property in question, the person did not vote on said resolution.
Even though the individual did not feel they had a conflict of interest in the matter, the person abstained from voting to avoid what could be a perceived conflict of interest.
Also at last night’s meeting, resident Eric Rude asked if he could speak prior to council voting on the bylaw but was denied.
Coun. Rick Wiedenhoeft, acting as chair of the committee of the whole, said it’s not really the decision of council but a matter of following process.
He added the public has had several opportunities to provide input along the way.
In related news, council also passed a bylaw last night to amend the zoning bylaw to re-zone the property on the corner of Minnie Avenue and Front Street from tourist commercial (C4) to “open space,” to offset the eliminated open space that would result from the conversion of the “Nelson Street Park.”
Also at yesterday’s meeting, council:
•heard a presentation by Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship chair Gord Watson re: 2012 tournament requests;
•held a public meeting re: tax adjustment at 1233 Idylwild Dr. (2009 and 2010), and approved said adjustment;
•referred a request from the Salvation Army Citadel and Thrift Store, re: additional parking in front of 316 Victoria Ave., to the Planning and Development executive committee for its recommendation;
•passed a bylaw to approve a licence agreement with Environmental Systems Research Institute Inc. and ESRI Canada for access to web services;
•passed a bylaw to approve an agreement with Parks Canada re: the maintenance of a commemorative Fort St. Pierre plaque; and
•passed a bylaw for the purpose of approving the minutes of current council for the period Nov. 23, 2010-Dec. 12, 2011.