Hearing date nears for six-story apartment building project

The controversial development plan for 16 Ormond Street S. will be heard in Ontario Lands Court on July 5, but the Town of Thorold’s position is still unclear

What position will the city take at the upcoming Ontario Lands Tribunal hearing on the proposed development at 16 Ormond Street South? With the July 5 court date fast approaching, some local residents fear the city will not support their fight against the six-story apartment project.

As ThoroldToday First reported, developer Shane Webber is proposing a 40-unit apartment complex at 16 Ormond St S., but some of the surrounding residents feel the project doesn’t fit their neighborhood.

The proposal was presented to the Thorold Committee of Adjustment in March, where a decision was deferred because committee members felt they did not have enough information, particularly regarding parking in the area.

In response, the proponent appealed to the Ontario Lands Tribunal (OLT). Thorold Town Council has instructed Town Hall to hire a solicitor and planner to represent the town at the hearing, but much remains unclear.

“Are they going to be for or against some of these waiver requests? asks Ormond Street resident Tim O’Hare in an interview with ThoroldToday. “Is it going to matter to me whether or not I join the city, or are we going to go it alone and fight for our cause without the support of the city?”

“It was great that the board members all voted in favor of this and they’re behind us, there’s no doubt about it,” O’Hare continued. “If they were the ones coming to the OLT, that would be a whole different story, but that’s not the case.”

The crux of the matter, according to O’Hare, is that in its initial report, Thorold’s planning department approved four of the five waiver requests, vetoing only the reduction of the building’s setback.

Three months have passed since then, and Thorold’s planning department has lost all of its employees, leading O’Hare to question whether the original planning report still matches the city’s current position.

O’Hare points out that among the initially approved deviations is the removal of the building’s loading area.

“No cargo space, that’s crazy,” he says. “You’re going to have so many apartments, no cargo space and park across the street, as the planner suggested at the time, and haul your stuff across the busy street of ‘Ormond?’

O’Hare has tried several times to reach out to the city for clarification on what will happen at the July 5 hearing, but still hasn’t heard back.

“The timeframe is incredibly short,” says O’Hare. “Even though it looks like we have a little time, all the documents have to be submitted much earlier, otherwise they cannot be put on file. I just need to know which direction the legal advisor and the planners are going to take.“

The only good thing that came out of the ordeal is that O’Hare is much closer to his neighbors. A petition circulating in the neighborhood has already garnered more than 150 signatures against the development.

“It’s surprisingly exciting to meet people, talk to them and discuss it,” he says. “Ninety percent of people argue that this design doesn’t fit the lot. With that obviously comes the parking overflow. That’s why downtown businesses are on our side. If we want a viable and thriving downtown, we need to make sure parking isn’t a problem and it doesn’t get worse.

When contacted for comment, the office of City Manager Manoj Dilwaria issued the following statement: “City staff are working with outside legal counsel on this matter. At this time, we are unable to share anything else.

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