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Resident 'taking town to task’ at Ontario Land Tribunal

Ian Cartwright has filed an Ontario Land Tribunal appeal against the Town of Collingwood over the town’s handling of a development application for 560, 580 and 590 Sixth St.
The Town of Collingwood crest on the wall of council chambers at town hall.

While the Ontario Land Tribunal usually sees cases either brought by or against developers, in a unique display, a Collingwood resident is taking the Town of Collingwood to the tribunal.

Ian Cartwright lives adjacent to a proposed development at 560, 580 and 590 Sixth St., and filed an appeal at the tribunal in January over what he said was insufficient public engagement and notice on the town’s part over the development in question.

Cartwright lives on Holden Street – just south of the subject land – and was one of many residents who spoke against the developer’s application at a public meeting on the proposal in January 2023, as well as at council’s committee of the whole meeting on Dec. 4, 2023 regarding a zoning bylaw and Official Plan amendment and a draft plan of subdivision for the project.

“I feel very strongly about abuse of process,” Cartwright told CollingwoodToday this week. “I think the town’s behaviour here was really irksome, and very unprofessional.”

“I feel strongly about taking the town to task.”

The application for 560, 580 and 590 Sixth St. was first received by the town on Aug. 25, 2022.

A public meeting was held on Jan. 30, 2023 to gather feedback on the proposal. At that time, the developer – represented by Georgian Planning Solutions – was proposing four four-storey apartment buildings consisting of 272 units, 75 townhouse units and a park for the property.

An artist's rendering of an apartment and townhouse proposal for 560, 580 and 590 Sixth St. in Collingwood. Image courtesy of Georgian Planning Solutions

At that meeting the council gallery was full, with about 15 residents speaking to raise concerns on issues such as such as drainage, traffic volumes, parking, whether the new development would be complimentary to the existing neighbourhood and how the new development would impact the values of the adjacent homes.

At that meeting, Cartwright called the proposal a “fairy tale,” and called on the town to look more critically at the documents and studies submitted to the town by the developer, which he characterized as “dishonest.”

For the most part, all was quiet on the development from Cartwright’s perspective until said he received notice from the town on Dec. 1 – one business day prior to council’s committee of the whole meeting on Dec. 4 – that councillors would be considering approving a zoning bylaw amendment, Official Plan amendment and draft plan of subdivision for the property.

He was dismayed to find the proposal they were considering was quite different from what the community saw earlier that year. In visiting the town’s website, he found more had happened on the file between the developer and the town since the January meeting, although he says he had not been made aware by the town despite him signing up to receive updates.

“They’ve treated us residents with contempt and almost as a nuisance,” he said.

Through the newly revamped proposal considered by councillors in December, there were now 231 units proposed in the apartment buildings and 70 townhouse units, and the developer was now offering a deal: if the town agreed to a zoning bylaw and Official Plan amendment to allow more density, the developer would add a fifth storey onto the apartment buildings and promised 7.5 per cent of the units would be affordable.

A letter signed by Kristin Rennie of Georgian Planning Solutions dated July 21 is the first mention of the affordable housing promise as part of a second submission package from the developer, and it was sent directly to the town’s director of planning Summer Valentine.

“(Residents) didn’t get anything in the June/July period,” said Cartwright. “A letter is not a submission.”

He said if the town liked the idea, he feels they should have asked for another formal submission to go through the public-facing process.

While a third submission for the development is posted on the town’s website as of September 2023, the application did not come to council then, nor was a public meeting held at that time by the town. Cartwright contends he, as a neighbour, was also again not informed.

“I find it completely incomprehensible,” he said.

At the Dec. 4 meeting, council pushed for 10 per cent of the apartment units to be affordable, and provided the rubber stamp. Cartwright spoke at that meeting, raising concerns about notice at that time.

At their Dec. 18 meeting, councillors ratified the decision.

Cartwright said he feels the application changed so significantly between the public meeting in January 2023 and the Dec. 4 meeting that another public meeting should have been held. He wants answers as to why the developer wasn’t required to put together a new application.

He said he’s not looking for compensation through filing the appeal, nor is he under the impression that the appeal will mean the Sixth Street development won’t be going ahead.

“It’s a huge point of principle for me, because if the town can do that, what else is the town capable of doing?” he said. “They’re meant to be representing the residents, not their own little fiefdom.”

He said he’s open to discussion with the town, and would be happy to see a change in town process to give more opportunity for public engagement on future development applications.

“I would like the town to acknowledge its behaviour, and maybe promise not to do it again in the future,” he said. “I don’t want them to hide behind their own interpretations of the law that are self-serving.”

At a council meeting on Feb. 5, the town’s manager of planning Lindsay Ayers addressed the appeal briefly.

“The town’s solicitor and the applicant [developer] were advised of the subject appeal, and a municipal record was prepared and submitted to the OLT on Jan. 25,” said Ayers. “Planning services will continue to provide further updates to council as this appeal unfolds.”

When contacted this week, an OLT case co-ordinator confirmed that no dates have been set yet in regards to the appeal.


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Jessica Owen

About the Author: Jessica Owen

Jessica Owen is an experienced journalist working for Village Media since 2018, primarily covering Collingwood and education.
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