by Mac Christie Flamborough Review
The City of Hamilton has passed an interim control bylaw for the downtown Waterdown core which will protect the area from development – until a new Secondary Plan is adopted. – City of Hamilton photo
Hamilton city council recently passed an interim control bylaw which aims to protect the downtown Waterdown core from development until a land use study for the Waterdown Community Node is complete.
The bylaw, proposed by Ward 15 Coun. Judi Partridge, was recently adopted by council in a 12-4 vote, after a contentious discussion. The interim bylaw was necessary, said Partridge, to protect downtown Waterdown from development until the city completes three studies – a new Secondary Plan for the area, a Transportation Master Plan and the Waterdown Village Built Heritage Inventory.
“My intent is to protect the core area from further development until the Secondary Plan is complete and approved by council,” she said at the council meeting. “By supporting this motion, council will allow my residents the opportunity for input and allow staff time needed to complete the studies necessary for the Heritage Inventory protection, a Transportation Master Plan, and (the Secondary Plan).
“This motion does not impact any approved developments from going forward and, in fact, there are five or six approved developments within this area that will be moving forward.” “My intent is to protect the core area from further development until the Secondary Plan is complete and approved by council.” — Ward 15 Coun. Judi Partridge
However, several members of council – including Ward 8 Coun. John-Paul Danko and Mayor Fred Eisenberger – raised concerns about the process of passing the interim control bylaw without proper reports from staff.
Jason Thorne, the city’s manager of planning and economic development, said the downtown Waterdown core area is not traditionally one of high development activity – although, he noted, they never know what proposals may be forthcoming.
He added there is no requirement to give notice of an interim control bylaw in advance of its implementation, and it can only be implemented if the city is conducting studies about the area in question.
“There has to be some sort of planning study that is taking place,” he said. “The purpose of an interim control bylaw is meant to put a pause on development while that policy change is finalized.”
The bylaw can be in place for one year, although council can extend the duration by one additional year if they wish to do so.
Thorne said he believes an interim control bylaw has only been used once in his time at the city – along the city’s LRT corridor.
Meanwhile, chief planner Steve Robichaud said that while staff are not objecting to the use of the interim control bylaw, “historically it is not an approach that the city has taken or staff has recommended when we embark on a Secondary Plan review of a specific geographic area.”
Robichaud said there have been concerns among the community about several properties that have been for sale and potentially could be redeveloped – although no applications have come forward. He added that the city hopes to have the Secondary Plan complete in 12 to 18 months.
In an interview following the meeting, Partridge said her intent with the interim control bylaw was to make sure no applications come through prior to the new Secondary Plan.
She noted the bylaw deals with the downtown Waterdown core – the area between Parkside Drive and the escarpment and stretching from just west of Hamilton Street to just east of Mill Street.
“We entered into a Secondary Plan about a year ago – it’s a two-year process,” she said. The city received a great deal of feedback from the October 2019 meeting and had planned to host community meetings in May and October, she said, but those plans were derailed by COVID-19.
The Secondary Plan is being completed in conjunction with a Transportation Master Plan and Waterdown Village Built Heritage Inventory. The process was started in 2019 and is expected to take a total of two years, she said.
Partridge said that since the city cannot host a public meeting or open house due to COVID-19, they have been considering setting up a website and soliciting online or telephone comments on several Secondary Plan proposals.
“At the beginning of this process, I committed to having three public meetings,” she said. “With COVID, public meetings are taking on a very different look than pre-COVID.”
Any comments collected would then be included in a revised plan, which would be presented in the fall – hopefully at a public meeting, although Partridge said that is subject to the COVID-19 situation.
“We’re anticipating that the Secondary Plan, it should be finalized and ready to come to council by June 2021.”