Council discusses some big ideas

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At the regularly scheduled Council meeting on June 13, a public meeting took place to discuss a proposed Official Plan amendment, which would allow residential dwellings to be permitted on the ground floor of commercial buildings in Chesterville’s core business area. The application from ZanderPlan Inc. specifically aims to have residential dwellings allowed at 20 King St in Chesterville.

When amendments are proposed to zoning by-laws or the Official Plan, a public meeting must be held to allow input from residents and stakeholders. Only those who make oral or written submissions during the public meeting can appeal if they don’t like Council’s subsequent decision on the matter. 

Former Councillor John Thompson was the first to speak at the public meeting. He argued that there is “limited commercial space in Chesterville”, and expressed his wish that the Official Plan remain unchanged. Dinos Pavlounis from Louis Restaurant spoke as well and expressed a similar opinion to that of the former Councillor. He said that if residential units are allowed in one location, property owners will be filing for similar allowances to be made everywhere. “If we’re going to play that game, everything is going to be residential in Chesterville, and I don’t want to see that either,” he added. 

Others commented as well, including representatives of ZanderPlan Inc. One of the representatives pointed out that there is a long history of vacant units in Chesterville, and that her client has attempted to rent the space commercially with no luck. She asked that Council defer the decision on the Official Plan amendment, likely feeling that the proceedings were not flowing in ZanderPlan’s favour given the comments from members of the public. 

Councillor Gary Annable, who has decades of experience in local business, commented that it is vital for commercial space to exist in downtown cores. Councillors Matthew Uhrig and John Lennox, as well as Deputy Mayor Theresa Bergeron, all supported Councillor Annable’s view. The North Dundas Chamber of Commerce submitted a strong statement in opposition to the proposed changes, writing that “street front commercial space is an essential part of our local economy and community.” The representative from ZanderPlan was very insistent that Council defer its decision pending a discussion between her and Township staff regarding other options. After further discussion, and Mayor Tony Fraser expressing that it would be inappropriate to “jump the queue” on residential water allocation applications in designated residential areas, Council made the decision to defer the matter. However, it has been made clear that an allowance for residential dwellings in ground floor commercial frontage space will not be allowed, and that the deferral will address other options, such as an allowable ratio of residential space in the rear ground floor of commercial buildings.

Council discussed other routine business at the meeting, including further discussion of the upcoming transfer of the blue box recycling program to the producers of the packaging. Council also approved the purchase of a new electric ice resurfacer for the Chesterville Arena, at a cost of over $170,000. Council further discussed next steps for the planned Lafleur Road municipal well, and discussed the methodology that will be used to evaluate water allocation requests in 2024. 

As usual, too much Council business took place in the meeting to include it all in one article. Council met for an additional special meeting on June 21, primarily to hear an action request that the upcoming NDDHS 60th reunion event be declared municipally significant. The June 13 meeting can be viewed in its entirety – with the exception of the closed session portion – at https://www.youtube.com/live/8nibPS96z2g?feature=share

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