OWEN SOUND – An industrial park zoning bylaw amendment aimed at allowing the establishment of a rock climbing and bouldering gym has met with an appeal by a neighboring property owner.
On Monday, the Owen Sound city council took the decision to formally communicate their endorsement for the zoning change, signifying their support, and preparation for representation at an upcoming appeal hearing before the Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT).
This amendment, originally approved during a meeting on September 11, pertains to the rezoning of an industrial complex situated at the northeast corner of the intersection of 20th Street East and 16th Avenue East. The existing zoning, classified as Heavy Industrial (M2) and Hazard Lands (HZ), has now been modified to General Industrial (M1) and Hazard Lands (ZH). The request for this amendment was made by Bert Wakefield, owner of the property located at 1580 20th St. E., with the intent to facilitate the operation of ‘The Climbers Crush,’ an indoor climbing facility occupying two units within the industrial complex.
However, Director of Community Services, Pam Coulter, informed the council on Monday that this amendment has been challenged at the OLT by R.K. Radbourne Building Ltd., the owner of the property situated at 1887 9th Ave. E., positioned directly south of the industrial complex across 20th Street East.
A letter dated September 29, composed by Al Burton of the law firm Thomson Rogers on behalf of the appellant, clarified that the neighboring property owner does not oppose the usage of the subject property for a rock climbing gym but believes that a more fitting zoning designation would be ‘mixed-use industrial’ (MU).
The letter elaborated that a former printing/publishing business on the property is no longer operational, which renders the current M1 zoning as unsuitable for the present uses. Furthermore, it was pointed out that a heart clinic on the property is not permitted under either M1 or M2 zoning but is permitted under MU zoning.
Additionally, the letter highlighted that council’s approval of the zoning bylaw amendment, allowing mixed-use industrial zoning, might enable incompatible uses, such as the establishment of a restaurant, in the area.
Al Burton wrote in the letter, “What Council was not advised is that a restaurant is a permitted use on my client’s lands, which again lie directly across the street from the Subject Lands. The passage of the ZBA ignores the current reality of the surrounding area to the Subject Lands, which is an area in transition to a variety of mixed uses.”
Burton contended that the amendment is inconsistent with the Provincial Policy Statement, does not align with the city’s Official Plan, sanctions an existing illegal use, and is not in the public interest.
In her report presented on Monday, Pam Coulter noted that the MU zoning applies to only a limited number of properties within the east and west waterfront area of the city, encompassing certain uses, including those like hotels that may not be suitable in the industrial district. Coulter asserted, “The appeal provides no grounds or information that would alter staff’s recommendation to council.”
The report further disclosed that the heart clinic in the industrial complex received a business license in 2010, abiding by the zoning bylaw enforced at that time.
Without any deliberation, the council ratified the motion on Monday, thereby reaffirming their backing and approval of the zoning bylaw amendment, asserting that it adheres to the Provincial Policy Statement, conforms to the city’s official plan’s objectives, and embodies prudent urban planning.
The city is now formally requesting party status in the OLT proceedings.
Upon the submission of relevant documents, the OLT will assign a case file number and outline the procedures for the hearing. Council members will remain informed about the ongoing developments, as outlined in the report.