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opposition mounting...

Advisory board opposes Dundas storage facility
Richard Leitner, News Staff, Dundas Star News
Published on Dec 19, 2008


A Hamilton Conservation Authority advisory committee is siding with residents who are fighting a proposed storage facility they say will make the western entrance to Dundas look like the home to a “maximum-security jail.”

Members of the conservation areas advisory board voted 10-0 last week to recommend that the authority’s board of directors oppose an application to rezone parkland at the corner of King Street and Olympic Drive to make way for the development.

The directors next meet on Feb. 5.

“To me, this is the last straw that breaks the camel’s back, if this were to go ahead,” said advisory board member Dave Robinson, noting Cootes Drive already cuts through the area’s environmentally sensitive wetland, home to nationally protected Blanding’s turtles.

“It’s not the first time this has happened or could happen.”

Advisory board chair Jim Howlett said the development conflicts with rehabilitation efforts.

These efforts include at the adjacent Volunteer Marsh and former Veldhuis greenhouse property across the street.

The economic benefits will also be slim, he said, because storage facilities generally only have one or two security guards on hand at any one time.

“I don’t think there will be a business boom into downtown Dundas that will offset the environmental problems and perhaps even traffic problems,” Mr. Howlett said.

“We have had many projects in that area where we have worked with a vision towards greening that area and towards cleaning up some of the mistakes of the past,” he said.

“This is a reversal of that direction. Storage units like this should be on the outskirts of towns –that’s my own personal opinion –and should be on land that has no other valuable uses.”

In a presentation, former Dundas councillor Joanna Chapman said opposition in town to the storage facility is the strongest she’s ever seen and reflects concerns about the impact on neighbouring marshland and escarpment views.

The project includes two large signs, including one by a popular area for feeding geese on the Desjardins Canal, and will require several metres of fill to meet regulatory flood elevations, raising the overall building height, she said.

“It would require extensive lighting and security fencing. The overall appearance would be much like a maximum-security jail,” Ms. Chapman said.

“The combination of the lit signage and additional fill and the building height will mean that the proposed project will be highly visible as you enter Dundas along Cootes Drive. That is precisely why they are interested in the location,” she said.

“The escarpment views would be blocked and the unique, beautiful trip along Cootes would be destroyed forever.”

Terry Carleton, a Dundas resident and University of Toronto ecologist, told the meeting clay fill from the site is already “inundating” and degrading Volunteer Marsh, hampering efforts to restore the area.

“It’s had quite an extensive effect and it’s essentially wiped out all the moss species,” he said. “I suggest that with further fill… the impact would be even greater.”

But Kathy Menyes, the conservation authority’s director of watershed planning and engineering, said the fill in question is from municipally owned land.

The city has refused the authority’s requests to remove it, she said, and can’t be forced to do so because a six-month time limit for laying charges has passed.

Ms. Menyes said despite some concerns with the developer’s environmental impact statement, authority staff can agree to the project because it is in a special policy area designed to encourage economic activity and will meet flood protection regulations.

City planners are also recommending approval of the rezoning, contending it is compatible with surrounding uses, including a waste transfer station to the north.

The land’s present zoning allows for a range of recreational uses as well as restaurants.

“In principal, staff have determined that the development itself, as it is today, won’t impact the ecological function more,” Ms. Menyes said.

“We still have some concerns with the environmental impact statement, but staff would address those concerns as the development proceeds.”

http://www.dundasstarnews.com/news/article/156449

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