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New zoning bylaw faces 5 appeals

Appeals don’t target biggest changes in zoning overhaul, but could delay implementation by months.
Leslie McEachern Edit
Leslie McEachern, director of planning services with the City of Thunder Bay. (Ian Kaufman, TBnewswatch/FILE)

THUNDER BAY – New zoning rules city leaders have hailed as transformative now likely won’t be implemented for months, after the City of Thunder Bay received five appeals to a new zoning bylaw passed in April by city council.

The appeals don’t target the new bylaw’s most impactful – and controversial – elements, like allowing more additional units, backyard homes, and reduced parking minimums.

“I would say the changes we’ve made to promote intensification, add additional residential units, to introduce backyard homes, those are all regulations we expect will move forward as approved by council,” said Leslie McEachern, the city’s director of planning services.

Four of the five appeals are site-specific, relating to just one particular property. A fifth involves an objection to the definition of care housing and how it applies in residential zones.

The appeals are not yet publicly accessible, as they will be after the city files them with the Ontario Land Tribunal for review. The tribunal could order changes to the bylaw, uphold it, or dismiss the appeals entirely.

The appeal process will likely result in a delay of “several months” before the new bylaw can now go into effect, McEachern estimated.

“We’re ever hopeful that we don’t receive appeals, but it’s essentially a typical part of the process, particularly when you’re looking at a really comprehensive review of the zoning bylaw like the one we just worked through,” she said.

“It may be disappointing for some who were waiting for the effective date of the new zoning bylaw to move forward with their development projects. Those will need to wait until we hear back from the tribunal.”

Development applications already in process are grandfathered in under the previous zoning bylaw for a period of three years.

The deadline to file an appeal was on May 3, after council unanimously ratified the new bylaw on April 11.

The overhaul of the city’s land-use guidelines received largely positive public feedback, with the Chamber of Commerce and EcoSuperior among groups welcoming changes intended to promote urban infill and simplify rules.

The one non-site-specific appeal the city received objects to proposed changes in how what the city calls “care housing” is regulated.

The definition includes residential buildings where in-home assistance including personal or medical care, supervision, education, or counselling is provided (larger congregate living institutions like long-term care homes are not included).

Care housing that accommodates seven or more people is not allowed within residential areas under the current zoning bylaw. The new bylaw would remove that restriction, with care housing simply having to conform to the residential zone’s normal restrictions on the number of allowable units based on lot size.

Ian Kaufman

About the Author: Ian Kaufman

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