The Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT) has denied a request by the Town of The Blue Mountains that the Abbotts Subdivision proposal in Thornbury include affordable/attainable housing units.
In a decision released on June 10, OLT member Tony Prevedel ruled in favour of the developer and allowed the subdivision proposal to proceed without the affordable/attainable housing units requested by the town.
The proponent of the application launched the appeal to the OLT after neither the town (on the zoning amendment) or the county (on the subdivision) rendered a decision.
“There is no question that municipalities must consider how best to accomplish the task of providing affordable housing. There are many tools available to assist in accomplishing this, such as inclusionary zoning, incentives and/or the use of Section 37 or community benefits provisions. However, the town has not provided any tools by which the tribunal can adjudicate on this matter. In the absence of OP policies providing direction, the tribunal is not in a lawful position to grant or approve the town’s request,” Prevedel said in his decision. “The tribunal finds that the town’s request, although heartfelt and sincere, is not reasonable, is not relevant and is not equitable in the case of this proposed development.”
The Blue Mountains council met in closed session after the decision was released, then announced it would appeal. The town is requesting a review of the decision by the OLT chair and is seeking leave to appeal to the courts if necessary.
“We are perplexed by and disappointed in the tribunal’s decision. It does not even address the issue we raised with respect to the applicability of the policies in the Planning Act, the Provincial Policy Statement, and the Grey County Official Plan to the inclusion of affordable housing as a condition in a plan of subdivision,” The Blue Mountains Mayor Alar Soever said in a statement. “We as a municipality simply cannot accept the view of the tribunal that the affordable housing policies espoused by the province in its Planning Act and Provincial Policy Statement, and by Grey County in its Official Plan, are unenforceable and can be dismissed as mere window dressing.”
Al Burton, a lawyer who represented project proponent Tammy Abbotts was happy with the decision.
"My client is quite pleased with the tribunal's decision as the decision was based on the lack of any policy with respect to affordable/attainable housing in the town's Official Plan. Consequently, there was no legal basis on which to grant the town's 11th hour request,” Burton said in a statement.
Grey County Warden Selwyn Hicks said the county respects the decision and affordable/attainable housing continues to be a front-burner issue for the county.
“We have received the tribunal’s decision and respect the outcome. Affordable housing remains a priority for Grey County and we will continue supporting our local member municipalities as best we can with the tools available to us. We will also continue our advocacy efforts and have submitted a request to meet with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing at the upcoming Association of Municipalities of Ontario conference in August,” said Hicks.
The Abbotts subdivision proposal is for 20 units on a piece of land in Thornbury near Landsdowne St. N and Lakeshore Drive. Access to the development would be from new, one-way extensions off Bay Street West and Victoria Street North.
The plan includes four single-detached dwellings and 16 semi-detached dwellings.
The Town of The Blue Mountains asked the developer to make six of the 20 units fit the affordability parameters for attainable housing. The developer, and now the tribunal, has denied the town's request.
The proposed subdivision would be serviced by municipal water and sewer services. Full details are available online at the town's website.