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nature or self-storage?

Development opponents seek support
Conservation board to discuss construction proposal
Craig Campbell, Dundas Star News Staff
Published on Jan 02, 2009

Opponents of a proposed storage facility within the Cootes Paradise ESA are appealing to city councillors to quash recommendations for amendments that would pave the way for development.

The Hamilton Conservation Authority’s board of directors is scheduled to hear two public presentations and discuss a report on the proposal at a Jan. 8 meeting. A City of Hamilton planning staff recommendation to permit rezoning and official plan amendments to allow a commercial storage facility on property currently zoned “parkland” is expected to be considered by city councillors on the Economic Development and Planning Committee on Jan. 20.

Over the past two weeks, emails have been circulated from concerned residents to Mayor Fred Eisenberger, and some city councillors, expressing opposition to the development and requesting support – apparently focussing on councillors who also sit on the HCA board of directors.

Ken Dakin, a planning consultant working for the owner of 201 King Street East, at Olympic Drive in Dundas, is scheduled to speak at the Jan. 8 HCA board meeting. Dundas resident Joanna Chapman, who opposes the four-building development, is also scheduled to speak.

Conservation Authority staff were not available for comment Monday. A Conservation Authority advisory committee voted 10- 0 in favour of opposing the plan, last month.

Former authority general manager Ben Vanderbrug, who was part of a volunteer group along with Ms. Chapman and McMaster University professor Brian Baetz that supported the sale of the former Veldhuis Greenhouse property across from 201 King St. E. to the authority in hopes of maintaining an open space area in the Cootes Paradise watershed, said despite support from staff there is a place for community input.

“If there’s more information, the people who make the decision have to be made aware of it,” Mr. Vanderbrug said. “More information is helpful.”

Authority and City of Hamilton staff contend there will be no detrimental impact to the property, neighbouring properties or wildlife.

Though he’s not directly involved, Mr. Vanderbrug said he is aware of the grassroots effort within the community. He plans to attend the city’s planning meeting.

Despite support for the required amendments from Conservation Authority staff, watershed planner Nora Jamieson said details of the development will be decided during the site plan process.

“We still have an opportunity to review the drawings,” Ms. Jamieson told the Dundas Star News last month. “Nothing’s been set in stone. We haven’t given blanket approval.”

Fill placed in and around Volunteer Marsh, a wetland next to the proposed development site, can not be removed because the Conservation Authority does not know when it was placed there, or by whom it was put there, and the site is owned by the city.

Ms. Jamieson said fill has already been placed on the proposed storage facility site to raise it roughly to the required flood proofing height. The development plan includes paving and fencing the site.

The HCA’s review did not include an assessment of potential impact on the authority’s own property across the street, or its plans to return it to a natural state.

Mr. Vanderbrug stated in a November email that staff comments may have been restricted to limited regulatory mandates “which excludes visionary thinking. The vision for the area was and still is Parkland and Recreation as formalized in the current Official Plan and Zoning Bylaw. The question before us is whether this vision is still appropriate or is in need for an ammendment.”

The city’s planning committee was originally scheduled to review the staff recommendation for official plan and zoning amendments in November, but the public meeting was postponed.

At the time, Mr. Vanderbrug stated the deferral would give councillors on the committee a chance to gain a fuller understanding of what is at stake.

“I, with others, was involved in the acquisition of the Veldhuis property,” Mr. Vanderbrug stated in a November email. “It became obvious to me that the public benefits of this acquisition would be greatly enhanced if it were to be looked at in the context of a broader based Open Space Strategy.”

Opponents of the development have raised questions about the potential impact on area wildlife and efforts to maintain open space links with the addition of the Veldhuis property bordering existing conservation authority and Royal Botanical Gardens properties.
http://www.dundasstarnews.com/news/article/157902

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