Irek’s Votes – April 7 2014

ITEM # and DESCRIPTION_ IREK VOTED COUNCIL VOTED TYPE OF ITEM
1 – Waiver of Fees and Grant Policy Yay 10-0 Consent
2 – Document Fees Yay 10-0 Consent
3 – Purchasing shared resources Yay 10-0 Consent
4 – Tree trimming Yay 10-0 Consent
5 – Year end operating budget Yay 10-0 Delegation
6 – Snow angels volunteer program Yay 10-0 Delegation
7 – Request from Town of Tecumseh re Land Yay 10-0 Consent
8 – Succession Planning Yay 10-0 Consent
9 – Naming of Community Rink Yay 10-0 Consent
10 – Site approval for 415 Ouellette Yay 9-1 Delegation
11 – RFP for three-point hoist Yay 10-0 Consent
12 – Alley closing Yay 10-0 Consent
13 – Enhanced capital plan forecast Yay 10-0 Delegation
14 – Established tax rates Yay 10-0 Consent
15 – Self watering planters and baskets Yay 10-0 Delegation
16 – Participation in investment Ontario Yay 10-0 Consent
17 – Paul Martin Bldg. encroachment agreement Yay 10-0 Consent
18a – City to enter discussion with Coco Paving and Ministry of Natural Resources regarding construction of Big Box Store adjacent to Ojibway Park lands Nay 8-2 Regular

 

Item #18a – the issue came up of the construction of a Big Box Store adjacent to the environmentally sensitive Ojibway Park lands at the corner of Matchette and  Sprucewood.  Recall, that approximately 7 years ago, City Council approved the permit for Coco Paving to build a Big Box Store adjacent to lands that contain a large number of species-at-risk plants and animals.  That decision was again reconfirmed in 2013.

The question before Council on Monday was whether the City of Windsor should be part of the conversation now taking place between Coco Paving and the Ministry of Natural Resources regarding the land in question as it is being developed.

That seems innocent enough, but here’s the rub:  the case of the Big Box Store development is currently before the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB), which has the right to reject the development.  The OMB process has been ongoing since 2011.  Coco Paving decided to circumvent the OMB process by using rarely used clause under the Endangered Species Act in order to deal directly with the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR).

Councillor Halberstadt raised the concern that by agreeing to be part of the conversation between Coco and the MNR – the City would be in essence signalling to the OMB that it supports the development.

I shared that concern which is why I first supported Councillor Halberstadt’s motion to delay a decision on this matter in front of Council in order to invite environmental specialists and the Save Ojibway group to comment.  This original motion was not supported by a majority of Council.

A subsequent motion was put forward for the City of Windsor to join the conversation between Coco Paving and MNR regarding the development.  For the concerns stated above, I voted against that motion.

In the end, I do not support the development of a Big Box Store adjacent to environmentally sensitive parkland that we should protect. For example, the development of a Big Box Store will triple the amount of traffic in that area (18,000 cars by one estimate), which will endanger our little Garden of Eden.

My predecessor Percy Hatfield voted against the Big Box Development when it came up years ago, stating that “I hope the developer loses at the OMB – this land is worth saving”.

I wholeheartedly agree.  We should allow the OMB to make its decision and not short circuit that process.

Windsor has one of the lowest levels of natural areas in Ontario.  We should do what we can to protect, improve and increase our parkland and natural areas.