New, incomplete details sink condo project again

Parking proposal, restaurant space, temporary shift for right-of-way leave questions, say councillors

By Mike Williscraft

A variety of new details at the 11th hour proved too much for Grimsby council last week, leading to a defeat of a revamped Century Condo proposal.

Adjusting the parking complement to include up to 16 tandem parking spaces, accounting for 1,000 sq ft of a proposed 3,000 sq ft restaurant as “front of house” to reduce parking needed for customers and a proposal to temporarily shift responsibility for a right-of-way through the property during construction left too many unanswered questions for five councillors who voted against the proposal. Four were in favour.

Councillors Dorothy Bothwell, Lianne Vardy and Dave Sharpe all asked extensive questions on those three items in particular, all of which were newly introduced at the special meeting of council, Aug. 27.

“We are at a point today where it is still not resolved, the title is not resolved. We have not dotted our ‘I’s and crossed our ‘T’s,” said Bothwell on the question of the right-of-way ownership – on which a lawsuit to determine ownership is still before the courts.

Bothwell also noted that the restaurant usage, which has a higher parking requirement, includes a 1/3-2/3 split for front and back-of-house. Using an industry standard for this ratio, she said 17 more parking spaces would be required. This breakdown was included in the proposal for the first time last week.

Grimsby’s director of planning, Antonietta Minichillo, told Bothwell “the onus is on them during the site plan” stage to deliver on parking requirements, suggesting the developer, Homes By DeSantis, would simply build fewer residential units to come down to match the prescribed number of parking spaces needed.

Coun. Lianne Vardy said the details put before council were incomplete and one-sided at best.
Noting a special planner had been contracted to help with this particular file, Vardy said, “We still have not addressed the fundamentals. We need to get back to basics.”

Coun. Kevin Ritchie wrote off all the concerns as minor and distilled the hold-up on votes of support down to worries about 10 parking spaces, while singling out Sharpe for kudos in questioning the parking allotment.

“I think it is fantastic,” said Ritchie of the plan.

Sharpe noted disappointment on several fronts, ranging from the presentation of brand new information with little back-up detail, the weakness of tandem parking spaces as a proposed solution to bring up the total of parking spaces and the lack of critical analysis from staff to help councillors make an informed decision.

On the tandem spots, he noted personal experience when he and his wife previously lived with tandem spots.

He noted they are generally inconvenient and one of the residents will use a visitor parking space or park on the street.

He cited incidents where a resident complained about a given issue and his comment back from staff after looking into it was “there is nothing we can do” to solve the problem.

“We are at the point now where we can control this,” said Sharpe, adding a question directly to the director of planning.

“We can (also) control this at site plan. The question is, will you? There are a lot of ‘maybes’. We need to see things…Nobody will complain if there is too much parking.”

Regarding the restaurant square footage breakdown, Sharpe noted his disappointment in staff.

“I depend on staff. I am not here 40 hours a week. I need staff to give me all the information I need,” said Sharpe, noting there was no analysis of the details presented

“I went home and did the math myself.”

Despite the concerns noted, Sharpe said the key to it all is the right-of-way ownership.

“This is not about planning principles. It is about a sale of a piece of Town property.”

Coun. Randy Vaine called it all “splitting hairs”, adding, “We have to give this one a shot. Our experts are telling us this is a good thing.”

Sharpe, Bothwell, Vardy, Coun. Reg Freake and Mayor Jeff Jordan voted against the proposal. Vaine, Ritchie, Coun. Dave Kadwell and Counc. John Dunstall voted in favour. Dunstall, who had been declaring a conflict, said he sought legal advice suggesting he was clear to vote despite owning nearby property.

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