The back and forth over the development of the so-called Lafarge lands in the west end of the city is back to forth with a unanimous vote at council this week approving a revised plan from Silvercreek Park Developments.
If you thought this had already been settled, you'd be right. A 2009 appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board led to Silvercreek and a neighbourhood group called Howitt Park Neighbourhood Residents Association reaching an agreement through mediation on what the shape of the development would look like. Further appeals from Armel, who have a commercial development down the road at Imperial and Paisley, went nowhere, so it should have been good to go, right?
As it turns out, Silvercreek came to the city to request an amendment to allow for a potential grocery store to be built on the commercial portion of the development. Whether or not that idea will go forward is a big "If" considering that there are three grocery stores already within a dozen blocks of the Lafarge lands, but I suppose the developers and their investors want to keep their options open.
As for the HPNRA, president Ron Foley told the Mercury that "there's very little difference" this new proposal and what was agreed upon between all parties back in 2009. On another note, Matthew West, a vice-president with Fieldgate Commercial, sent a letter to council saying that the development would "review options for retaining" a bur oak tree on the site. Presumably, it's a very old tree since I'm unaware any specific threat against that species of tree.
It will be interesting to see when or how or even if development moves forward on the Lafarge lands now. It's almost surprising that it hasn't happened yet, but I'll admit to being sad to seeing development when it finally starts since the Lafarge land is a unique and enjoyable piece of greenery there in the middle of some of the city's busiest streets. I've been occasionally taking up the effort to document the land as it is right now, one of the photo slideshow's that reflect my efforts is included below.
In a final, interesting side note Ward 3 Councillor June Hofland abstained from the vote declaring a conflict of interest. Hofland was the president of the Howitt Park Neighbourhood Association before being elected to city council in 2010.