Niagara Falls makes a push for further density; Port Colborne expands affordable housing options—and aggregate extraction
Niagara Democracy Watch is The Pointer’s weekly feature aimed at increasing the public’s awareness and political involvement in the Niagara Region by highlighting key agenda items, motions and decisions.
Date: November 14 - 4:00 p.m. | Delegate | Full agenda | Watch live
Four units are better than three
Less than a month after recommending Council bring City policies into alignment with the provincial Planning Act to permit additional dwelling units on residential properties, Planning staff is suggesting a further increase.
At the October 24th meeting, Council approved a staff recommendation to allow two Additional Dwelling Units (ADUs) ‘as of right’ on parcels of urban residential land containing a detached, semi-detached, or an on-street townhouse dwelling for a total of three (3) dwelling units on a lot. The approval brings the municipality’s planning policies into conformity with the amendments to the Planning Act triggered by Bill 23—the PC government’s controversial housing legislation.
A report on Tuesday’s Council agenda from Planning staff suggests that allowing a fourth unit will place the municipality in a better position for its application for funding under the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s (CMHC) Housing Accelerator Fund (HAF).
The HAF is a $4 billion fund available to municipalities until 2026-27 to help alleviate the current shortage in the housing supply. On October 23rd, the day before Niagara Falls Council approved the three dwelling units per residential lot, the CMHC released a document entitled 10 Housing Accelerator Fund best practices: proven strategies to boost supply and affordability. Included in the best practices, were recommendations to stop low density zoning and permit more as-of-right zoning measures regarding number of units and storeys.
Although the best practices do not specifically state how many units should be “as of right”, the staff report on Tuesday indicates that many of the municipal recipients of HAF funding to date have either passed by-laws permitting up to four units as of right or have initiated policy and bylaw reviews to study the matter. In Mississauga, Mayor Bonnie Crombie, notably, exerted her strong mayor powers to override a Council decision that rejected four-plexes in that municipality.
The staff report can be read here.
Date: November 14 - 6:30 p.m. | Delegate | Full agenda | Watch live
Port Colborne Quarry expansion looks to clear final municipal hurdle
A long-standing application to expand Pit 3 of the Port Colborne Quarry is before Council on Tuesday night with a staff recommendation to approve the controversial project. Approximately 68.7 hectares are proposed to be dug up for mineral extraction within the expansion over an expected 40-year lifespan.
The application by Port Colborne Quarries Inc. was completed in 2021, with a public open house held in September of that year. The statutory public meeting occurred before Port Colborne Council on March 7, 2023. A dozen residents spoke or sent letters opposed to the application.
Concerns have ranged from the possible negative impact on the aquifer; impacts on the natural environment, and the related truck traffic. Tuesday’s staff report indicates that various technical studies have been produced in response to the concerns and that a number of conditions and mitigation measures will be enforced through the Provincial licensing process.
A side issue has been the long promised rehabilitation of the decommissioned Pit 2 quarry into a lake. At the March Council meeting, PCQ Inc. representatives estimated that it would still be 5 to 7 years before rehabilitation would be possible.
Staff estimates the annual production of 1 million tonnes of aggregate is expected to generate $31,200 for the Region and $126,880 for the City in TOARC (The Ontario Aggregate Resource Corporation) fees.
As part of PCQ Inc.’s application for a Category 2 (Below Water Quarry) – Class A Licence further public consultation and notification processes will follow.
The staff report can be read here.
Affordable housing project reaches milestone
Port Colborne Council will receive a delegation on Tuesday from Christine Clark Lafleur, Chief Executive Officer, on the progress of Port Cares affordable housing development at Clarke and Chestnut Streets. Earlier this month, a full building permit was issued by the City, enabling installation of the structural steel for the first floor.
In 2020 Port Colborne City Council approved the City donating the lands of Chestnut Park to Port Cares for the purpose of building affordable housing units for the community. The five-story building will have approximately 40, one or two-bedroom, units for low income independent seniors (55 yrs +) and female-led single parent families with one to two children under the age of 18. The monthly rent for the one bedroom units will be $520 including utilities, and $710 including utilities for the 2-bedroom units.
According to Clark Lafleur, the need for such affordable housing in Port Colborne is acute. According to City data, 25 percent of households in the municipality spend 30 percent or more of their net income on shelter costs, the highest in the Niagara Region, putting a quarter of the local households at risk of housing loss. The waitlist for Niagara Regional Housing social housing rental units in Port Colborne now exceeds 8 years for seniors and 9 years for families.
The Project Team, consisting of Whiteline Architecture, Rankin Construction, and Port Colborne Quarries, has an aggressive construction timeline, as Clark Lafleur indicates that occupancy will happen “just over a year from now”, with an application intake anticipated in late Spring 2024.
A copy of the presentation can be found here.
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