It was a rather long “Special Meeting” on Thursday evening where Council took up the matter of the proposed Century Condos downtown. It’s been a long r̶o̶a̶d̶ laneway since this development was first made public in 2018.

With Council not satisfied with what was brought forth at the August 17th regular meeting, it was sent back for more deliberations between the Town’s Planners and the developer, and presumably their legal teams. Thursday night saw a revised proposal that cut a few units from the last proposal and did some shuffling around to change parking numbers.

There was a written delegation from concerned homeowners on Doran regarding what they saw as a “double-standard”. You can read their correspondence at this link here.

The Planning Department put forth a PowerPoint to try and address some of the concerns raised at the August 17th meeting. This PowerPoint was discussed in a previous post.

Subsequently, the floor was open for discussion to Council.

For complete commentary, please view the recorded stream at: https://vimeo.com/452215882

Here is a summary of some of the comments, concerns and questions raised:

Councillor Kadwell

  • Glad to see something going in there, lot has been vacant for many years.
  • Questioned setbacks in regard to adjacent properties, if there was any amendments being requested.

Councillor Bothwell

  • The actual number of tandem spaces being provided, 16 vs 15, “actual” vs “maximum” authorized.
  • “Major intensification” in downtown, how defined.
  • The laneway legal question has not been resolved.
  • Restaurant – kitchen space vs public space, appears incorrect.
  • Lack of dedicated commercial parking.

Councillor Vardy

  • The August 31 deadline for an agreement was set pre-COVID.
  • Residents are a stakeholder, as it is their downtown.
  • Need to get back to the basics on laneway ownership and go from there.

Councillor Vaine

  • Other Councillors “making stuff up” to confuse the matter.
  • Condo boards are not a Town matter.
  • Planners are for this.
  • This is a good development… we need to accept it.

Councillor Ritchie

  • We were talking about parking spaces before, now it’s balconies.
  • Think it’s fantastic… will be great for downtown. hundreds of businesses are looking for it.
  • Not moving forward would be a mistake on our behalf.

Councillor Sharpe

  • Tandem parking has issues, shuffling vehicles, it is not ideal.
  • Parking issues can be tough to solve, once created.
  • Too many maybes.
  • 27% of restaurant is front of house, 73% of restaurant is back of house.
  • We have to do our due diligence… we have to be sure.
  • Need complete information from Town Staff to make an appropriate decision for the residents.
  • Decision is not on planning merits, it’s on the sale of the laneway.
  • Have to make a decision that takes into account what the public wants to be done.
  • People want convenience (in regard to parking).
  • Number of parking spots is important for home buyers, so they don’t have to walk far.

Director of Planning – Antonietta Minichillo

  • If someone parks in a municipal parking spot (to access the building), the higher the chance they might stop in and solicit a local business.
  • Walking promotes health.
  • The more pedestrian traffic we can have in our downtown, the better it is for the survival and thriving of local businesses.

Councillor Vaine (Second Set of Comments)

  • “We are getting into areas that are not in our domain”.
  • “Want to make sure what’s best for our town, best for our residents”.
  • Received a lot of positive emails, Chamber of Commerce wants it, businesses want it.
  • “We should be approving a good development that our residents want.”
  • We are questioning our experts.
  • We are going to be out 100’s of thousands or millions of dollars if Superior Court finds developer owns the laneway.
  • LPAT supports developers.
  • “If we don’t (approve it), we are going to be in a bad spot”.
  • We make decisions based on what our experts tell us.

Councillor Dunstall

  • Create more pedestrian traffic downtown.
  • Restaurant might be a high-end restaurant that has a big kitchen and a lot of staff (thus having less dining space).
  • Restaurant of that size is viable.
  • “Cut an extra key” solves tandem parking issues.
  • “This is a great project… we got to pass this”.

Council then proceeded into a closed session component to discuss the legal matters surrounding this proposal and/or settlement agreement. The result was the following motion:

“Moved by Councillor Ritchie; Seconded by Councillor Kadwell

Whereas on August 17, 2020 Council resolved that confidential report PA-20-17 be referred back to Staff and negotiate the intentions discussed and further directed to bring back a settlement at a Special Council meeting on August 27th.

Now, be it resolved that confidential report PA-20-18 be received and now therefore be it resolved;

That the Town directs their legal counsel, Gowling WLG, to enter into the following agreements including amending those agreements as may be required in the absence of Irene Brons’ consent and to continue to negotiate with Irene Brons to obtain her consent, failing which to obtain the court orders contemplated, pursuant to the Master Settlement Agreement and the Court Minutes of Settlement:

1. A Master Settlement Agreement;
2. Court Minutes of Settlement;
3. Brons Settlement Agreement;
4. LPAT Minutes of Settlement.

And that the Town directs the Mayor and Clerk to enter in the following documents:

1. Acknowledgement and direction with respect to the easements and land titles;
2. Document general to register the court order vesting title to Parts 1 & 2 of the laneway in the Town; and
3. Option agreement.

And that the Town directs the Mayor to swear and sign the following documents:

1. Land transfer tax affidavit with respect to the option agreement;
2. Land transfer tax affidavit with respect to the easement and registry; and
3. Land transfer tax affidavit with respect to vesting title to Parts 1 & 2 of the laneway in the Town.”

Transcribed fRoM LIVe STREAM

Here is a summary of the discussion of the motion in open-session:

Councillor Sharpe

  • It is a difficult decision as it is the first building that will be the redevelopment of our downtown.
  • Many residents are opposed.
  • Layout of restaurant is done so that less parking is required, 1,000 ft² for public space and 2,000 ft² for “back of house”.
  • Zoning By-Law has insufficient parking requirements for actual use of a restaurant.
  • Will not support the current proposal.
  • We want to see a building downtown on this lot, but this is not the one.

Councillor Ritchie

  • Always consider the future, not a few years out.
  • Multiple factors that may change requirements and there is a lot of unknowns.
  • This town really needs this development.
  • Multiple planners have said it is good planning.
  • Will increase vibrancy of downtown.
  • Will be supporting this as “this is where we need to go”.

Councillor Vaine

  • It was worthy of Councillor Sharpe to bring this matter back (for refinement and a Special Meeting).
  • Our downtown businesses are dying.
  • Received comments from developers and residents who want this.
  • People in town who want to retire… they don’t want a big home and want a place to retire.
  • Perfect location, matches heritage features of the other buildings around.
  • Developer has bent over backwards to accommodate.
  • We asked our planners, we have asked our lawyers to go out and get the best deal they could and they did.
  • “If we turn this down…in my opinion… we are not dealing in good faith, we are really dealing in bad faith if we go back and say we want more again”.
  • Not prepared to take $300,000 of taxpayers money to prove a point (in regards to the laneway ownership).
  • Meets all the parking requirements and we are getting away from fossil-fuel cars.
  • We need to look 20-30 years ahead and fossil-fuel cars will be gone, transit is the way to go.
  • Will be supporting the proposal.

Mayor Jordan

  • We have been under an August 31st deadline, but we are in a pandemic.
  • We lost 3-4 months because of the pandemic.
  • Some of the information that came in the 11th hour, would rather see an extension to deadline for negotiations.

At this point, Councillor Vaine asked for a referral back to Town Staff to see if the developer would negotiate more. Comments on the motion were:

Councillor Ritchie

  • We have a good deal, it doesn’t get any better.
  • Even with more time to negotiate, the deal won’t get any better.
  • Will not be supporting referral.

Councillor Bothwell

  • Important to get laneway determined first, too many unknowns.
  • Too much in the agreement that makes her uncomfortable.

The motion to refer the matter back to Town Staff was defeated. Thus, the main motion came back into play and was voted on:

How Did They Vote?

YEAS - SUPPORTED THE SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT 

Councillor
Dunstall
Ward 3

Councillor
Kadwell
Ward 2

Councillor
Ritchie
Ward 1

Councillor
Vaine
Ward 3
NAYS - DID NOT SUPPORT THE SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT 

Councillor
Bothwell
Ward 4

Councillor
Freake
Ward 1

Mayor
Jordan

Councillor
Sharpe
Ward 4

Councillor
Vardy
Ward 2

The motion to enter into the settlement agreement was defeated.

So what happens next? The Superior Court has to yet rule on the ownership of the laneway, this could drive where the development is headed, what form it may take and will impact the pending LPAT matter.

As the last LPAT decision seems to be waiting for the Court decision, the tribunal may try and get both parties back to the bargaining table ahead of a full hearing once ownership has been determined.

LPAT has scheduled their next Case Management Conference on the matter for October 20, 2020. You can follow the case to date at this link here.

Thanks fo reading (and watching)!