Ontario Land Tribunal supports Fort Erie’s decision on housing development

The Town of Fort Erie’s decision to oppose a development proposal along its historic waterfront properties on Erie Road was upheld by the Ontario Land Tribunal.  On Monday, April 29, 2024, the Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT) dismissed an appeal to amend the Town of Fort Erie’s Zoning By-law (No. 129-90) sought by Crystal Bay Cottages Inc. to permit the redevelopment of their property at 4409 Erie Road in the community of Crystal Beach. The proposal requested a rezoning of the property from its current Waterfront Residential (WR) zoning to allow eight new housing units to be built.

On March 20, 2023, The Council of the Town refused the Zoning By-law Amendment (“ZBA”) on the basis that:

  • the proposed development was not compatible with the character of the surrounding established residential neighbourhood,
  • this traditional neighbourhood is outside the development area and was not envisioned for infilling and intensification,
  • and the proposed development did not provide for adequate open space on-site.

This led the developer to appeal the decision through the Ontario Land Tribunal.

“The decision by OLT Member Smith recognizes the importance of Council insisting that development projects reflect our vision for growth in our community. That vision includes setting policies that follow provincial policies and legislation but, more importantly, that require new developments to complement the existing area and benefit the community.”

– Fort Erie Mayor, Wayne Redekop

“I am delighted to hear about the recent decision from the Ontario Land Tribunal, which acknowledged the concerns of the community, local council, and town staff and understood this proposed project’s true nature and impact. We must ensure that our community’s growth is harmonious with the needs and aligns with our vision for our growing community.”  
– Ward 5 Councillor, Tom Lewis

The Town of Fort Erie has supported housing development and growth, identifying “Sustainable and Managed Growth” as a key pillar in its Corporate Strategic Plan. The Town recognizes the importance of balancing community vision, neighbourhood compatibility, mixed housing needs, and housing growth as realities to address housing needs in the community—but it must be done with a sustainable, responsible, and managed approach. The Town of Fort Erie has been supportive of gentle densification and intensification in certain areas of the community, in accordance with Bill 23, the More Homes Built Faster Act.

“Growth may be inevitable, but the type, the amount and location of growth must be balanced and compatible with the community’s vision and their needs.  We are very pleased with the Ontario Land Tribunal decision that reinforces that communities are best suited to make planning decisions about compatibility, density and location of growth that is both manageable and responsible.”

-Chris McQueen, Chief Administrative Officer

The Town’s population is estimated to increase by 12,600 new residents by 2041. As such, the Crystal Beach Secondary Plan (CBSP) was developed to accommodate approximately 1,100 new residential units through select infilling and general intensification of vacant or underutilized properties and redevelopment in specific locations throughout Crystal Beach.  The town facilitated extensive public consultation and engagement on their way to developing the Crystal Beach Secondary Plan, which was approved in 2023 by the Ontario Land Tribunal. The waterfront in Crystal Beach was not identified as an area for intensification in the CBSP to preserve and protect the natural character of these unique waterfront neighbourhoods.

” I am very pleased with the Ontario Land Tribunal’s decision on this matter. The decision aligns with the Town’s Official Plan policies and the vision outlined in the Crystal Beach Secondary Plan (CBSP). It also preserves and protects the character and identity of the neighbourhood.”

– Anamika Dilwaria, Director, Planning and Development Services

Tom Lewis

Tom Lewis is the Ward 5 City Councilor in Niagara Falls.

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