Residents win park re-zoning appeal

Duane Hicks

The Town of Fort Frances will not be selling off the property known as “Nelson Street Park” for residential development after Ontario Municipal Board chair J.E. Sniezek ruled in favour of residents who opposed the re-zoning and ordered the pertinent bylaw repealed.
In a decision issued June 28, Sniezek said the OMB “concludes that the town failed to provide this board with an objective unbiased review of the use of parks space in the municipality to support the closure and redevelopment of Nelson Street Park considering the fact that the local school site is slated for redevelopment and considering an alternative parkland site was proposed.”
“The board allows the appeal based upon an inadequate case in support of disposal of a park that has been part of the local landscape for over 60 years,” he added.
“The board orders the appeal against By-law 8/98-TT of the Town of Fort Frances is allowed and By-law 8/98-TT is hereby repealed.”
As previously reported, town council voted in December to pass Bylaw 8/98-TT and re-zone property located between Minnie Avenue and Williams Avenue, sometimes referred to as the “Nelson Street Park,” from open space to Residential Type 2 (R2).
The intention was to divide the property into four or five lots and sell them for residential development.
But local resident Eric Rude appealed the approval of Bylaw 8/98-TT to the OMB and was granted a hearing before Sniezek on May 24, at which time Rude (backed by eight other presenters) and the town (represented by municipal planner Faye Flatt) argued their sides of the case.
Rude told the Times yesterday he was “very happy” with the OMB’s decision, not only for himself and the fellow residents who opposed the re-zoning this time but those who have done so in the past.
Meanwhile, Mayor Roy Avis said yesterday there is an appeal process the town could pursue, adding council has yet to decide what it wants to do in regards to the OMB verdict.
But as far as he’s concerned, “the case is closed.”
“[The Nelson Street Park property] will stay the way the board stated it should,” Mayor Avis remarked, noting, in his opinion, that council shouldn’t file an appeal.
The decision was issued June 28 but the parties involved only received copies of it Tuesday and yesterday.