Emotional discussion at City Hall, council clears way for development Monday, June 09, 2014 by: Darren Taylor
City council, in an emotional discussion at its regular meeting Monday, approved an application to develop three new single residential lots, fronted on Summit Avenue, on the north side of Ontario Avenue.
The proposed development, from applicant Graham Simmons, required approval from council to reclassify the area in question from ‘estate residential zone’ to 'single detached residential zone,’ and ensure that engineering measures be taken to prevent erosion and flooding from the sloped area.
The slope of the property and resulting erosion and heavy flooding in past, heavy rains are of great concern to Ontario Avenue residents.
Ontario Avenue residents Don Pistor and Mike O'Shea were present at council's meeting Monday and spoke in opposition to the proposal.
O'Shea presented a videotape clearly showing very heavy runoff from the slope, with water and debris rushing along the road in front of his home.
Pistor said council, if it approved the project, would be making an "ad hoc" adjustment to the city's Official Plan for the sake of approving one particular project, and would require Ontario Avenue residents to have "a lot of faith" in adjustments to the property that haven't been made yet.
"This will negate regulations concerning slopelands," Pistor said.
Marlene Yanni, another Ontario Avenue resident, said "all I've heard (from city engineering staff) is 'we think, we hope, we can't guarantee.'"
"I'm imploring this council 'don't let us down'…let's have some more study on this situation," Yanni said.
"It's not only water from flooding, its mud, it's debris, and someone is going to get hurt."
Susan Myers, Ward Two councillor, asked Don McConnell, city planning director, if he could guarantee engineering measures to be put in place will ensure no further damage would occur.
McConnell replied he could not guarantee that and said "at worst, it won't get worse if (this proposal) is approved…but there's an opportunity here to make the situation better, not worse (by taking certain engineering measures)."
A tearful Myers told council "unless you've seen it (the flooding and damage on Ontario Avenue), you can't believe it…I'm asking council tonight 'please don't expose these people to more risks.'"
"Let's put a hold on this until we've dealt with all the issues."
Earlier council discussion of the matter at its May 12 meeting led to a defeated, 5-5 tie vote, but council agreed to reconsider the matter when Pat Mick, councillor for Ward Three, voiced concern she may have voted in error.
At council’s May 12 meeting, concerned Ontario Avenue residents, who have submitted letters to council, told elected leaders because the previous owner of the property removed a great amount of vegetation on the site, heavy rains from last fall caused water to rush down the sloped property and flooded their homes, with mud and debris covering the road and clogging up catch basins.
They also insisted, in a letter, council ensure the developers and the city “install infrastructure or establish a new system that will correct the flooding caused by the runoff from Summit Avenue."
"We also expect that the current owners who desire this development will bear the cost of this system,” the letter stated.
The applicant, meanwhile, had submitted a study done on the property by Tulloch Engineering in support of the application.
A report to council from the city planning director states the Tulloch Engineering study shows the existing slope to be stable and recommended approval of the development, on the condition that engineering measures be taken to ensure slope stability, prevent erosion and proper drainage.
“This will allow a series of checks throughout the process, to ensure that appropriate measures are in place both during and after construction,” the report stated.
In a recorded vote, council voted eight to two in favour of the application.
Voting in favour were Mayor Debbie Amaroso and councillors Steve Butland, Marchy Bruni, Brian Watkins, Rick Niro, Paul Christian, Frank Fata and Pat Mick.
Councillors Myers and Joe Krmpotich voted against.
Councillor Terry Sheehan abstained from voting due to conflict of interest.
Councillors Lou Turco and Frank Manzo were absent.
"I'm sure councillor Myers will be following the process and ensure what must be done will be done (to prevent further damage to Ontario Avenue homes)," Mayor Amaroso said.
kamen 6/9/2014 7:56:26 PM Report
Terrible place to develop, why not tear down old buildings and houses that are in dire need of repair and build there? There are going to be a lot of fox sightings and such once they start tearing into the area....
I'm In 6/9/2014 8:55:38 PM Report
Start with Wellington West and Albert St. East and West, its a shame our downtown core is dilapidated, that just goes to show our brain trust at City Hall as long as the CAO, Mayor and Councillors live comfortably
Javaman 6/9/2014 9:24:18 PM Report
Obviously someone owned those 3 lots and wanted to cash in..It has nothing to do with other dilapidated buildings elsewhere in the city.
jinjin 6/9/2014 9:31:05 PM Report
That's AMAZING! How could anybody approve that. did they even see the property!? SOMEBODY MUST KNOW A GUY! Residents of Ontario avenue will certainly be footing the bill. Good luck friends, sorry, but on top of your insurance, your taxes will be going up soon. DISASTER ZONE!
BrianTheDog 6/9/2014 9:40:16 PM Report
This has NIMBY all over it. To bad some still voted against this development.
Right of Centre 6/9/2014 10:32:23 PM Report
That's not NIMBY, it's NIMFY. Google up a map of Ontario Ave., and progress along it from Pim towards the former Mount.
Oooo...what's that you see? Bush on a hill, bush on a hill, bush on a hill, clear-cut hill with a house on Summit, bush on a hill...wait, what? I've walked that street over decades, and don't ever remember anyone foolish enough to clear-cut that hill.
Clear-cutting a hill does what? Flood below? Slide?! I'd be pretty pissed if I lived on Ontario.
The Summit neighbour is a bad neighbour. You don't do things on your property that will cause flooding and erosion, adversely affecting your immediate downhill neighbours. I would be surprised there's not a lawsuit by Ontario Ave. residents, and they should haul this off to the OMB.
Council should be ashamed of themselves.
ThinkAgain 6/9/2014 10:48:16 PM Report
Just remember the old folks at city hall didn't get much of an education back in the day thus lack of leadership & bad decisions all the time.
They should all hold hands and Joe should walk them around that block and see first hand.
Fools they always will be
Right of Centre 6/9/2014 11:44:36 PM Report
My apologies to the Summit property owners...according to the Sault Star article, the PREVIOUS owner did the cutting. I retract my statement that they are bad neighbours.
wandering 6/10/2014 12:28:04 AM Report
Sault is run by a bunch of fool
Oh they really don't care it is for old peoples
yes why they don't put those old house down and use that place...look like a dump in many place around the sault
sinikka 6/10/2014 5:53:14 AM Report
" A tearful Myers". What was she crying about. It seems that susan is more emotional in an election year , when there is media and cameras around.
Javaman 6/10/2014 6:59:36 AM Report
Please...someone I Ward 2 run to replace tearful Myers.She could not even get Pim Hill.in her ward, fixed.I guess she drives up Pine Hill most of the time.
TFinn 6/10/2014 7:18:30 AM Report
Wouldn't the owners on Summit Ave and or Alworth Place and streets above Ontario Ave have some ownership in the water run off ..... or is it considered a natural occurance eg: excess water (bad rain storms) just wondering ..???
CBSA 6/10/2014 7:27:46 AM Report
Don't they call those alligator tears from Meyers............AGAIN?????
Montec 125 6/10/2014 8:10:21 AM Report
City haul is famous for this type of bad decision. Trees cut and homes built on sandy hill north side of fourth line west of Goulais ave. Destabilizes slope and causes erosion with each rain. Lots of flooding and grief for residents on south side of the Fourth line and into McQueen subdivision. Another example:
Crimson Ridge development. Terrible erosion from golf green into the creek just east of Moss road. The rapid flow each time it rains heavily down the access from Fourth Line creates a huge erosion problem into a Speckled Trout creek. If that type of thing occurred on a logging sight on crown land the job would be shut down and huge fines would be levied
Joshea 6/10/2014 8:14:18 AM Report
I am one of the residents from Ontario Ave. who fought this application and I have to respond to some of the negative comments posted about Susan Myers. Susan fought hard for us and was the only representative who has shown up numerous times on site to try to negotiate a solution between the city, the applicant and the residents. I was also at council when she tried to fight for more repairs to Pim Street but the city refused to include the repairs in this round of projects. In our ward, Susan is the only councillor that ever responds to our requests for assistance. She was emotional because we are devastated by this decision and the city has still not committed to solving the water problem. She has seen first hand, the damage caused by the water. At least we are somewhat assured that Susan will ensure that all the rules and regulations are followed in this development. Personally, I am extremely disappointed in the members of council and the mayor who voted in favour of one resident at the peril of many.
Just Curious 6/10/2014 8:32:51 AM Report
Montec 125, I was gonna correct your spelling of City Haul but then realized it is actually quite appropriate...LOL...
Right of Centre 6/10/2014 9:46:43 AM Report
Like Joshea, I have also found Susan Myers very effective in responding to a problem I've encountered.
Twist Of Fate 6/10/2014 10:27:09 AM Report
It's funny to me how everyone keeps saying how bad this city needs change but yet every time something does change everyone gets up in arm about it. Can't have it both ways people, I for one am happy to see things changing slowly here in the soo it is long over due and hopefully it will continue.
Meow 6/10/2014 10:29:24 AM Report
I downloaded the entire report from the City’s website. The letter of opposition from the neighbours lists a number of other reasons why they are opposed to this new development. They are the following: loss of what they call “their green space”, loss of a park like setting, increased noise, increased traffic, and taxes going up.
Twist Of Fate 6/10/2014 10:49:22 AM Report
obviously it was not "their green space" as it belongs to someone else. Maybe all the neighbors should pool their money to purchase the property and keep it the way it is.
Joshea 6/10/2014 10:53:36 AM Report
Meow then you must have also read that the engineers will only go so far as to guarantee the hill in its present state because the developer has provided no site specific plans or building designs. The hill in question is above the allowable elevation for construction according to the city official plan but yet with no engineering guarantees, the city passed the amendment to construct homes. That hill is part of the escarpment that runs through the city and has stood for thousands of years in it's "present state". You might also be interested to know that, at last night's meeting, most councillors who asked questions were very concerned about who could be sued if they are wrong and problems arise as a result of this construction. The city solicitor responded to each person indicating that it would be the "P.Eng." who would be responsible. Well....with all due respect to engineers, they were wrong in Elliot Lake and they were wrong in the Flour Mill district of Sudbury. If council is so worried about something going wrong....why would they have not requested more information and required more definite proof before accepting the amendment.
MYPOINT 6/10/2014 1:09:27 PM Report
I do not know and have never met Susan Myers. I was kind of shocked at the tears she seemed to be holding back when she was pleading with the rest of council to reject this idea however. I do believe that this city is definitely in error to allow such construction when it has already been shown ( via a video) to be dangerous even as it is at the present time.
All of that being said, I think that the city solicitor is wrong in saying that the Engineers could be or even would be the only ones sued if one of those houses being contemplated actually started sliding down the hill after a particularly bad rain and then it demolished one or more of the homes below. I think the CITY could be and rightfully should be held at least partly to blame for allowing such a ridiculous idea to proceed even past the last council meeting.
The city might have fantastic engineers on staff but just look at the idiot in charge of the Engineering Department in this city. He is NOT an Engineer and the ONLY reason he got the job in the first place was because he was a school chum of JOE's and we all know it but nobody seems to be mentioning it very often.
I wish to let the folks on Ontario Avenue know that there are some in this city who agree with them that this city is definitely not looking out for them but is merely trying to impress a new resident of this city. Why else would they even contemplate such a disaster which is most likely going to occur as soon as these houses are built and we have another huge rainfall. Mark my words, this will probably happen sooner rather than later. Let us watch for how much that disaster will cost us taxpayers due to the inept response from our city solicitor. Not to mention the kind of response received from most city councillors and the Mayor who voted for this project to continue.
I know there will be detractors to this opinion because there always is with most articles.
As always, your views may differ :)
Doug 28 6/10/2014 4:14:13 PM Report
Terrible decision by the mayor & council!! Please don't give up everybody affected by the flooding, mud, etc.
Get a petition opposing this decision to the Conservation Authority, Committee of Adjustment and Building Permits Dept. ASAP.
It looks like those voting for this didn't even see firsthand how steep and bare the slope is.
littlejoe 6/10/2014 10:11:04 PM Report
Neighbors and loyal readers the drainage situation will only improve with development.
City councillors and planning did the right thing in supporting this development.
This development will probably bring in close to
$12,000.00 dollars for our city each year.
If the neighbors are not satisfied they should all chip in and hire an engineering firm to determine
the truth and nothing but the truth.
Neighbors and loyal readers stop the crying and use common sense.
Nobody was crying when the neighbors built their homes years ago.
"THINK ABOUT IT"
habsfan 6/11/2014 9:38:19 AM Report
Why is it that the Official Plan only gets revised when it suits certain applicants. I have heard many times from councilors that the plan should not be amended. But because someone knows someone it gets approval. Just like the hiring practices at the Board of Works. If your related to someone, your hired. Ever wonder why almost everyone that works for the city is Italian.
Doug 28 6/12/2014 11:21:23 AM Report
Little Joe: no-one was "crying" years ago when the houses were built because the slope was still forested and there was no flooding, debris run-off etc.
habsfan: the Summit resident is new to town and also unemployed.