Monday night’s Renfrew council meeting was dominated by approval of three zoning bylaws and two site-plan agreements. But not enough timely planning is being done by the Town of Renfrew, according to veteran developer Mack Wilson.
Wilson, who saw council approve his site-plan agreement for Phase 3 of Hunter Gate subdivision Monday, subsequently asked to address council.
Granted permission by Mayor Bill Ringrose, Wilson then chastised staff for dragging its feet on planning issues.
He also indicated Wilson Investments of Renfrew is financing the building of a new $5 million home for Ontario Power Generation that will preserve or create about 70 jobs, and that he would like to see timely response to the project.
“I have to tell you I’m disappointed; disappointed with your delays and your action here,” Wilson told council and senior staff members.
“There doesn’t seem to be anything that takes place until a fire has been lit, and it takes too long.
“This place is not operating as it should be. Your cookbook is outdated. Your guidelines and procedures are not followed. And … I am critical of that. I can’t help it, it bothers me. We started in September to have a subdivision agreement ratified.”
Hunter Gate’s site-plan agreement for Phase 3 should have been approved by December 2012 at the latest, said Wilson.
Asked why approval took this long, Wilson replied, “I have no idea.”
For the second time in two town council meetings, Mayor Ringrose spoke at the council table, before indicating he would not provide additional comments or answers to questions about the issue in question.
The first time was Feb. 11, when Ringrose summarized his reasons for accepting the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal sent to him by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.
The second occasion was Monday night (Feb. 25) when he responded to Wilson’s criticisms of the town’s planning process.
While addressing council and senior staff members, Wilson also said “you need to pull your socks up and be proactive … and stop your fighting.”
This was a reference to the case before the Ontario Supreme Court in which Renfrew development and works director Mike Asselin is suing Renfrew resident Matt McDougall of Moviemat for defamation of character.
Asselin also received a court injunction Dec. 7 to prevent the public viewing of videos placed on YouTube in October and November over his disagreement on a site plan concerning McDougall’s Moviemat location on O’Brien Road.
After approval of the Hunter Gate phase 3 site-plan agreement, Wilson left the council chambers. Shortly afterwards, Mayor Ringrose responded to Wilson’s comments.
Ringrose said the difficulty often lies in the vagueness of expectations, responsibilities and timelines.
“When you get mixed up in the details of it (the process), it’s amazing how there aren’t any innocent parties around the table,” the mayor said. “However, it happened; it occurred. Yes, I did get a phone call (about the site-plan agreement). I’m glad we got through it tonight, and it (delays) will probably happen some time in the future. That’s just life.”
Regarding the need for timely site-plan approvals in town, Ringrose added, “If applicants come to us and work with us, we will meet whatever timetable is required. That requires an active communication on their part and an active fulfilling of their role on behalf of their consultants, as well as the parties we have to go through for input … We will achieve what is required.”
In responding to Wilson’s comments about the court case, Ringrose added: “He’s right. I’ve heard comments that what is happening relative to a citizen is, at the least, embarrassing. I wish it would come to an end. I suspect it will drag on for many more months …. It has already been before the courts, and it is not resolved … And I suspect there are other issues that are going to come forward.”
To which Ringrose also said, “There comes a time when you have stand up for yourselves and for our staff.”
At Monday’s meeting, council also approved three zoning amendments for property developments by Briscoe’s Foodmarket Ltd. on Barnet Boulevard, Renfrew Victoria Hospital on Grigg Ave., and Nick Karavidas on Opeongo Road land that is not serviced by the town’s water and waste-water system.
The Opeongo Road severance passed by a 5-2 vote, despite planner Julie Stewart’s recommendation that the rezoning be refused. A servicing options report concluded that are municipal services are not an option due to prohibitive costs for such an extension at the west end of town. The same report recommends on-site private sewage and water services.
COLERAINE SUBDIVISION SITE PLAN
Council also passed a site-plan agreement for the Coleraine Subdivision being developed by Bonnechere Development Corporation partners Norm Bujold and Morris Eady.
The corporation is building 30 single-family homes at the site of the former Pine Avenue football field, between Airth Boulevard and Raglan Street South.
The site-plan agreement for the future Coleraine Park includes the council’s waving of the requirement for an on-site sidewalk and on-site power generator. Instead, the developers will provide funds for a mobile generator to be operated by the town. Construction of four homes (on Buck Ridge Crescent within Coleraine Park) will start this spring, says Bujold.