Stoney Creek’s three City Councillors are up in arms after a bombshell landed on their lap today; the new Winona-Fruitland Secondary Plan needs to be amended, effectively throwing it out after years of work and acrimony; only three months after approval.This means the acrimony may be repeated as the process is restarted – in an election year.
The new Secondary Plan, commonly known as SCUBE for Stoney Creek Urban Boundary Expansion, was approved by Planning Committee during a 9.5 hour marathon meeting exactly three months ago following six years of divisive contentious public meetings in Stoney Creek, especially Winona.
Tim McCabe shocked the entire Planning Committee at the end of their meeting today announcing the Ontario Municipal Board’s partial approval of the City’s new Urban Hamilton Official Plan (UHOP) means the SCUBE process will likely be restarted as the plan approved only three months ago does not comply with UHOP.
SCUBE was written for the Stoney Creek Official Plan, the OMB ruling rescinded that pre-amalgamation plan. McCabe says staff must amend SCUBE and this will involve a full public process eventually ending in a Council vote.
Appeals of SCUBE at OMB16 citizens or corporations appealed the Council approved SCUBE plan to the OMB. They have paid fees to the OMB, hired planners and lawyers, and invested much time into the process. Today’s announcement means all this was for nothing.
Stoney Creek Councillors Brad Clark, Brenda Johnson, and Maria Pearson were outraged by this.
“I will wear this,” stated Johnson in reference to the outrage that will occur in the community.
“That was the risk we were taking”
When asked why the City would move though with the SCUBE process knowing it would be all for naught when the new Urban Plan was approved, McCabe responded that staff did not know when it would be approved.
“It was legal at the time,” McCabe said of SCUBE. “We didn’t know how long it would go. That was the risk we were taking.”
Memo to Council
McCabe provided an ‘information update’ to Council today. The update did not provide any of the information he surprised the committee with.
Analysis – What Does This Mean?
Appeals to the Ontario Municipal Board on SCUBE are now in limbo and ‘on hold’.
They can’t proceed or be withdrawn pending Council’s decision on creating a new Secondary Plan.
Residents are, rightfully, going to be upset after investing much time, money, and resources into the SCUBE process. Most angry will be those investing significant funds into OMB appeals.
Why did staff allow this to happen? Why didn’t they wait? Why wasn’t this possibility made clear?
It’s Councillor Brenda Johnson who will be punished by residents for this. She has taken a lot of hits on SCUBE – a problem she inherited as a rookie Councillor.
This, including McCabe’s attempts at explanation, will further diminish confidence in City Hall and fuels the flames of resentment towards amalgamation among long-time residents of Winona.
Nobody wins and now we face a divisive, contentious, and not entirely necessary fight during an election year in Winona.