THUNDER BAY -- A proposed bylaw that could delay house construction or add thousands to the cost in certain parts of the city brought a wave of concern to city council on Monday night.
The bylaw would put a hold on land north of the Thunder Bay Expressway on Balsam Street to Lancaster Avenue for new development until the resident pays for a hydrogeological study, estimated at up to $10,000, to make sure neighbours within 500 metres wouldn’t have their wells impacted.
The proposal is the result of a 2012 study done for the Ministry of Transportation suggests there are serious problems with the area’s water supply.
“What’s driving this is a desire to protect the people who are already there,” city development manager Mark Smith said.
But that was news to around ten people in the area who have either lived there for years or are in the process of building a home there. Council heard from people who have seen no issues with their wells and some who have seen their water increase over the years.
Lynette and David Pecquery bought their lot on Edith Avenue late last year hoping to build this summer. Taking all the steps in order to get to the building phase, they were never told by the city that the proposed bylaw was coming until they heard from other builders. After speaking with their new neighbours, there are a lot of concerns about property values if holds are put on their land.
“The owners are definitely not happy with what is being proposed,” Lynette said.
Rick Currie’s family has lived in the area for 60 years and has never seen anyone have a water issue. He’s also building a home for Robert Roman, a man who said was told couldn’t have a building permit until doing the study even though the by-law hasn’t passed yet. Currie said the bylaw has no specifications on when people would need to have a study done.
“If a person’s house burns down are they going to be able to rebuild it?” he asked.
Councillors had plenty of questions as well, a lot of which weren’t addressed in the initial report. Some wondered why this area in particular was chosen. Smith said it was because the MTO brought the study to the city. It could well be there are other areas of the city that have similar problems.
Coun. Trevor Giertuga said getting council to make a decision without all of the information wasn’t right.
“It’s ludicrous,” he said. “I’m sorry for the people out here who are being affected by this.”
The decision was referred back to administration for more information. It’s expected back within two months.