Penetanguishene council hears residents concerns, shoots down proposed subdivision
by Andrew Mendler Midland Mirror
Penetanguishene residents spoke and councillors listened.
The overwhelming opposition of a proposed subdivision, which would have annihilated a 30-acre woodland to build a 118-unit residential subdivision between Fox and Church streets, swayed council’s vote at a March 14 committee meeting.
Council shot down a staff recommendation to seek further public consultation on the project, and instead passed a motion to outright refuse the development.
Queen’s Court Development Ltd. was seeking approval to build a subdivision consisting of 89 single detached homes and 28 townhome units on a 30-acre woodland.
After plans were publicized during a Jan. 24 meeting, a group of residents launched the Preserve and Protect Penetanguishene Facebook page in hopes of stopping the development.
This page rapidly grew to over 780 members, the majority of which in opposition of the subdivision. Residents then bombarded town staff with hundreds of letters voicing their concerns.
“We rarely have a lot of engagement in the planning work we do. So this was nice to see,” said Andrea Betty, director of planning and community development.
Betty recommended council take advantage of the immense public interest and hold additional consultation sessions.
As councillors took turns voicing their thoughts on the matter, it became quite clear most had already heard enough.
“We know about the valuable habitat (the woodlands) provides. We know about the endangered species that make their home there. We know about the very valuable mixed mature forest,” said Coun. Debbie Levy. “I will most definitely vote against the Queens Court proposal.”
Coun. Doug Leroux voiced concerns about the impact the development could have on a highly vulnerable aquifer which provides the town with water. He was also against the development.
Mike Lauder also wasn’t a fan of the application, feeling the developer needed to make improvements in order for it to have a chance at approval.
“Our town’s residents have spoken and they have spoken loudly,” said Lauder. “Now I feel the developers need to respond and respond very favourable before I can make any decision in their favour. Right now, I am opposed.”
Deputy Mayor Anita Dubeau supported staff’s request to continue conversations around the project.
“I didn’t like what we saw, but I think we as council have to give the developer the opportunity to make change. If they don’t change that is another story,” said Dubeau.
Betty and town CAO Jeff Lees both reported that the consultants, speaking on behalf of the developer, notified the town they were not willing to engage in any further public consultation.
This may have also had some impact on council’s decision, as the motion for more consultation around the development was narrowly defeated. Coun. Brad Saunders then put forth a motion to quash the development.
This motion passed 7-2, with Dubeau and Mayor Gerry Marshall the only two in opposition.
Council will need to ratify committee’s decision at the March 28 meeting before the development is officially dead.
If defeated, the developer has the option of appealing council’s decision with the Ontario Municipal Board.