Tay pauses Port school site development for CIHAO revisit

It could be compared that the latest Community Infrastructure and Housing Accelerator Order guidelines are akin to the saying that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Tay Township council received a report from planning and development services at a recent regular meeting in regards to the proposed 66 new residential housing unit project being looked at for 722 Seventh Avenue, home of the former Port McNicoll Public School.

Planning consultant Wes Crown, of MHBC Planning Urban Design & Landscape Architecture, told council that the original purpose for the presentation was to speak about the effects the provincial Community Infrastructure and Housing Accelerator Order (CIHAO) would have on the proposed development, in addition to the public petition and related comments.

“What we’re asking for through this order,” said Crown, “is to do exactly what the order is requesting – to accelerate the delivery of new housing to the community – but we will still be obligated to submit applications and conduct public consultation around a draft plan of subdivision application and a site plan application.

However, final guidelines were released the day prior for the CIHAO which sent the consultants, township planning staff, and developers Delbrook Group back to reassess what would be required for council’s benefit.

“Although we think that we have satisfied the general requirements of the guidelines through the early consultation that we already completed,” explained Crown, “we agree (with staff that) it’s best to dot the I’s and cross the T’s – to go back and do that additional work before this matter is brought back before council for consideration.”

The staff report requested that council approve the included recommendations “in principle” while additional steps be conducted in compliance with the CIHAO. Those included additional consultation with First Nations and Indigenous groups, and a public consultation in the township to further discuss the details of the CIHAO.

A public meeting was held in early September for the proposed redevelopment, aimed at converting the former school into rental residential apartments with a residential subdivision of townhouses and single detached dwellings for the property. In late September, a petition from eight property owners requested a halt to a proposed extension of Midland Avenue, as it would cut through a parkette and green space while adding significant traffic.

Planning manager Todd Weatherall echoed Crown’s statement, adding that as a result of the provincial actions, “everybody in this area is running around trying to figure out all the proper steps.”

Council carried through with the recommendation approval in principle, and held off questions until the updated report is presented at a future regular meeting.

The MHBC report for CIHAO along with petition regarding 722 Seventh Avenue can be found in the council agenda on the Township of Tay website.

Tay council meets for regular council meetings every fourth Wednesday of the month. Further information including council’s agenda can be found on the Tay township website.

Derek Howard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, MidlandToday.ca