A local business owner is asking the City of Dryden for help with a new housing development on Edgewater Drive.
Jamie Gould, owner of Gould’s Brand Source, made a delegation to councillors at their Committee of the Whole meeting this week asking to waive a requirement to conduct an Environmental Assessment at 107 and 109 Edgewater Drive.
Gould explains he’s hoping to build a new 4-plex on the vacant lots within the residential area, but an impact statement is required under city bylaws due to the property’s vicinity to the Laura Howe Marsh.
Mayor Jack Harrison, a former forester himself, explains the assessment is required if a development is within 120 meters of wetland areas, but in his experience, only ‘significant’ provincial wetlands should be affected by the rule.
“Originally, when the city plan was created, in my opinion – they weren’t following provincial direction when they added a 120-meter buffer for development. The buffer seems designated for very high category wetlands.”
Harrison does note the Laura Howe Marsh is considered fully protected and rules must be followed, but Councillors agreed that the community has a dire need for housing – and waiving the assessment is doable.
“We need extra housing here so badly,” said Councillor Ritchie Noel. “Provided it’s closely monitored, I’m in favour of waiving the requirement for the [environmental] impact assessment.”
Councillor Bryan Tardiff agreed – noting the subdivision’s plans have already been approved by the city.
Although, Chief Building Official Pam Skillen explained to councillors and Mr. Gould that waiving the assessment carries a significant risk.
Skillen says if Dryden agree to waive, anyone can appeal the city’s decision through the Ontario Land Tribunal as Dryden would be going against its own official plan – which would halt any work.
“Now you’re stuck in mid-build, and you literally can’t do anything,” said Councillor Michelle Price.
“And those costs tend to go much, much higher. You could be three-quarters done, someone puts an appeal in, and you’re stopped. It will just sit there, waiting for this appeal to go through.”
“That’s my main concern. It’s out of our hands if someone appeals it. You could literally be stopped. That’s my major worry,” she adds.
Chief Administrative Officer Roger Nesbitt explains regardless of the decision, a zoning amendment will need to come before council for the development to go forward.
Councillors are expected to vote on waiving the assessment at their April 24 Council meeting.