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Zoning overhaul

To the editor: Just over 23 years ago, the City of Thunder Bay’s first zoning bylaw came into effect as a unified and coordinated land use planning tool for the entire city.
To the editor:

Just over 23 years ago, the City of Thunder Bay’s first zoning bylaw came into effect as a unified and coordinated land use planning tool for the entire city. Prior to 1987, four zoning bylaws representing the former cities of Port Arthur, Fort William and the Neebing and McIntrye areas, regulated development.

The new proposed comprehensive zoning bylaw is important to residents because it will be development friendly, anticipate future development opportunities, help improve the greening of our city and be simpler to use.

A new zoning bylaw is required to shape land use planning for the coming decades, and is necessary to implement land use policies that are specified in municipal official plans.

They create zones that specify the type of uses that may be permitted; such as residential, commercial, industrial or institutional. These zones contain the specifics for development such as permitted uses, lot size, height, density and buildings setbacks.

Generally, zoning bylaws also define terms and set standards for landscaping, parking and accessory uses to name a few. Updates will reflect community values and current industry and business standards. Residents can all relate to some of the following examples of clearer definitions and greater flexibility.

To allow for transition of homeownership in existing neighbourhoods while expanding housing options for residents, the new bylaw proposes to permit four unit apartment buildings on large corner lots in certain residential areas. This will allow the Boomer Generation, who may seek alternate housing options, to stay in their neighbourhood near their family and friends instead of relocating to a seniors’ facility.

Another significant change is enhanced landscaping requirements that promote the greening of city streets. Currently, only a percentage of the lot is to be landscaped. With the new bylaw, a landscaped strip will now be required for most developments. This will result in an improved streetscape and beautification of our city. 

Regulations for drive-thrus and parking are also being introduced for the first time that better reflect industry standards in our city.

A separation distance between the drive-thru line up and residential zones will be required. This separation, together with privacy buffer requirements, will aid in reducing conflict between the two uses.

Input for this new bylaw was gathered from a wide spectrum. The city’s planning division hosted several open houses, had displays at various events, and staff presented information at various meetings such as the Real Estate Board, Rotary Club and ward meetings. In addition, the proposed bylaw has been available on the city’s website.

It has been restructured and is a more readable and user-friendly document. It’s a culmination of input from the public and the review of policy documents such as the Official Plan and the Community Environmental Action Plan. The proposed new comprehensive zoning bylaw introduces improved development regulations that support the community’s vision to create a more attractive livable community.

Decio Lopes,
Senior Planner,
City of Thunder Bay

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