Council Debated Planning and Bylaws

City Council Chambers
City Council Chambers
City Council
City Council Chambers June 17 2013 – Planning issues

THUNDER BAY – City Council got down to business at 16:30EDT. The topic of discussion started on planning issues. 

With Mayor Hobbs in the chair, the meeting discussed a home cabinet making operation and the application for approval of the business.

Mark Smith
Mark Smith on the ‘hot seat’ at Council

Mr. Mark Smith address Council explaining how the property owner had completed many steps to make the business acceptable for the location. That included environmental issues. Mr. Sousa the property owner had True Grit Consulting do a noise assessment as needed.

Zoning By-law Amendment 660 Community Hall Road

Editor’s Note: The Thunder Bay General Hospital is currently undergoing a similar noise assessment as ordered. That was not done, as likely should have been done when the hospital was built. The requirement was made under order from the OMB.

To consider an application to amend the home occupation regulations of the Zoning By-law to permit cabinet making as a home occupation within the detached garage at 660 Community Hall Road. The amendment, if approved, will permit the Applicant, Luiz Sousa, to continue his cabinet making business at his residence. Administration recommends that the application be supported as it is in keeping with the Official Plan’s home occupation policies.

The property owner has planted trees, and put in a greenhouse that help to buffer noise from his power tools.

Councillor Ruberto asked, “In the application, home businesses may include a cabinet making business?” 

Councillor Giertuga
Councillor Giertuga

Councillor Giertuga asked if there were other home-based cabinet making businesses in the city. 

The application was endorsed by the neighbour across the street. Another neighbour expressed serious concern, stating that he had spend countless hours and hundreds of hours on his home, and that business at the facility has impaired his enjoyment of the property.

The neighbour offering opposition complained that if the application is approved he is worried that his neighbourhood would become a industrial park. The size of the greenhouse, and the cabinet making business the Council was told was installed without permits.

“This is an industrial business being asked to be in a residential neighbourhood”.

Councillor Hebert asked for clarification on the location of the neighbour who was in opposition. 

Councillor Bentz asked for information on the process of planning with the city. He was told that the city was helpful at first, but suggested that the neighbours contact the applicant and tell him to contact the city, and gain more information on the bylaws.

“Its been just one thing after another,” complained the neighbour speaking in opposition.

Councillor Ruberto, asked, “To be clear is there something that the individual could do that could solve this? A berm?”

Ruberto was seeking a compromise, however it did not appear the neighbours were interested in that idea. 

The applicant was asked to come forward, Councillor Giertuga, asked if the applicant would like to address the concerns raised by the objecting neighbour. The noise study reported that at the property line there was an acceptable level of noise. Council was told the dust suppression unit was quieter than the chirping of birds.

Councillor Ruberto asked if the property owner had first addressed the question of having a shop and home built. The applicant said that from all the information he had, he was in his legal rights to do what he was doing. It was changes to the zoning bylaw in 2011 but the shop had been built in 201o.

Mr. Sousa said that the permit he had been issued was under the old bylaw.

Westfort Councillor Virdiramo
Westfort Councillor Joe Virdiramo

Councillor Virdiramo asked if the original building permit had been issued for a garage or a shop. He was told that the total area of the house and the shop made it too big to comply with the original bylaw.

Also raised was the size of the non-commercial greenhouse. Councillor Virdiramo was told that the greenhouse was 6×9 and that is metres but Council assumed it was feet.

Councillor Bentz stated that 25% of the total square footage can be for the home business. The amount of space the shop could be is 200 square feet over the allowed size.

Administration has recommended approval. Mr. Mark Smith was questioned by Council over the allowed size of the operation on the property.

There are conditions that Council was told are in the application that the home business owner would need to do to keep the rules on the operations of the business. 

Councillor Virdiramo questioned if the property could have application made for temporary use bylaw for properties. Councillor Pugh then sought clarification on the recommendation that the bylaws process in the city need to follow the official plan.

“It was the understanding of the planning division that the applicant had changed how he was doing his operation to overcome objections,” stated Mr. Smith.

Councillor Bentz wanted to know how the application could fit the new bylaws enacted by Council.

Councillor Ruberto wanted to know “From the new information presented tonight, it sounds like you want a chance to revisit this application. Is there a way as a Council that a berm or something could be done?”

Mr. Smith responded “It would depend on what form, if any of mitigation could be applied.” 

Zoning By-Law Amendment – 25 Melon Street – M. Vecchio

25 Melon Street
location of proposed apartment complex

To consider an application to amend the General Regulations of the Zoning By-Law and the provisions of the “MU2” – Mixed Use Zone Two to allow the development of additional dwelling units in the form of apartment or townhouse dwellings at 25 Melon Street. Administration is recommending support for the proposed amendment.

Mr. Vecchio
Mr. Vecchio

The Applicant’s planning consultant presented the plan to Council that had been presented at a public meeting. The applicant stated that planning and the community had gained support for the proposal.

The applicant is looking to add 12 new residential properties, either townhouses or apartments. 

“The planning report offers how the project supports the official plan. It meets the goals and objectives of three specific parts of the plan”.

There is a shortage of housing in Thunder Bay, and the applicant seeks to address that shortage with this project.

“The form of the building is consistent with the neighbourhood,” stated the consultant. The property has been vacant for thirty-five years.

Debate over the proposed development continued. Councillors sought greater input on aspects of the plan.

There was one resident came forward to offer support. The resident commented that he appreciated the degree of engagement,  from the applicant. “The city needs to support people who listen to the neighbourhood, and we need to support those who come forward with their capital.”

In objection, residents who live behind the proposed property came forward. The residents of the Melon Stardust Street residents state they represent the neighbourhood.

There was a great deal of information provided on an 1976 proposed development on the property that had been rejected. The issue seemed to continue on both sides on the thirty-seven year old proposal. 

The objection was based on the size and height of the proposed building, and the blocked sunlight would impact gardening. 

Councillor Aldo Ruberto
Councillor Aldo Ruberto

Concerns were raised over the number of apartments in the area already, a reported 435 apartments.

There were concerns over drainage and storm sewers. Concerns over the very low vacancy rate were stated to be not something that this complex would address. 

Councillor Boshcoff asked since the proposed development would be only twelve units, what objections were there. Council was told there were severe restrictions put in place no more than 20 unites, and no higher than 25′. That was in 1976.

Councillor Ruberto asked about the impact of the 11 storey Red River Towers. The objection was that the apartment would be far closer and more intrusive.

A second deputation was raised offering solutions for Council and the developer were brought forward. The goal was fewer apartments, and less height to the property. 

Councillors were informed that the property which has been vacant for a long time and has become part of the neighbourhood where there are lots of trees, and wildlife.

Councillors were told that the residents are concerned over draining. 

The residents are seeking that Council defer the application until a final plan is prepared and presented to the residents and council.

Councillor Giertuga questioned why the objections were not presented to the developer in one of the open house sessions. He was told that there was no time that could have been done. A concern on what the process was for coming forward to Council was raised.

Councillor Boshcoff asked about the shadowing from the proposed building. There will be light on one side of the property and sunlight will be lost around 15:00EDT.

Mayor Hobbs called the applicants back to try to seek some solutions. Hobbs asked if the matter could be deferred and is there room for negotiations. 

Hobbs and Council were told that if the number of units were decreased, the project might not be feasible. The issue of shadowing was addressed as the building being proposed was not much different than many of the houses in the city.

Councillor Ruberto offers some solutions in terms of trying to get the project moving forward. Mayor Hobbs told the At Large Councillor his task isn’t to try to broker a deal. 

Councillor Foulds stated, “Thanks for coming forward and making the presentation. The height issue is a concern of the objectors. Are you making an effort to mitigate the height concern”.

The Council was told that is being done, and the site will be looked at to see if more of the main floor can be put into the ground. 

Administration was then questioned by Council. 

The Mayor asked if a better means of making a presentation in terms of a Powerpoint presentation or better graphics could be used. 

Mr. Smith put on the ‘hot seat’ again talked about sight line control, and how lots are sloped and graded. It allows us to put a ‘finer point on the process than the bylaw could do”, shared Smith.

“We always take into account the concerns of the public,” stated Smith.

Councillor Boshcoff commented that in tonight’s presentation there were both metric and English measurement used. It caused concern stated Boshcoff.

“The zoning bylaw sets out the minimum requirements,” stated Smith. “The zoning bylaw puts in place a restriction from a paragraph put in place in 1977,” added Smith. “It is not a good way to judge the merit of the application”.

Councillor Bentz asked, “So the planning department is in favour of the proposal”. Mr. Smith stated there was no requirement for a shadowing report, but the city did some work on that, but “we are not experts at this,” answered Smith. “There are many examples of properties like this,” commented Smith. “The kind of environment is fair to say is just like many we see across the city”.

“For the last thirty-seven years, a cap on the number of apartments on this property has existed”, commented Smith.

Official Plan and Zoning By-law Amendment – 2109 Mahogany Way – 2201947 Ontario Inc.

To consider an application to amend the policies of the Official Plan and the regulations of the Zoning By-law to permit the creation of one new suburban residential lot and retained lot each for a single detached dwelling with a reduced lot area.

 Mr. Smith commented that it is not often that planning supports a proposal of this type, but in this case the department is supporting the proposal.

Councillor Angus asked, “How did this lot come to be created at this size?” Council was told this was a piece of property that was likely planned for future development.

Councillor Rydholm said, “I noticed that one neighbouring property has listed some concerns. Will you promise that once this is done, I won’t have people complaining. I hear a lot of concerns over drainage”.

Rydholm was assured that the drainage would be done. 

There were no further supporters or objectors to the proposal.

30 Syndicate Avenue South – Willhac Inc.

730 Syndicate Ave
730 Syndicate Ave

To consider an application to amend the Official Plan and the Zoning By-law to permit “office” as a permitted use in the existing building.

The applicant is seeking to recognize the historical use of the property for offices. The inclusion of offices uses as a permitted uses would provide serve to aid in the financial viability of a purpose built office building and would aid in providing a buffer area between the intrusive heavy industrial uses to the east from the residential uses to the west.

Administration is recommending the proposal.

730 Syndicate


Councillor Ruberto asked about the greenspace around the building. The property has green space all around it, and an area with picnic tables on the north side.

There was one objection to the plan. From the objection the concern was heavy industrial in the area. The people objecting were concerned moving the building from light industrial might come forward.

Councillor Virdiramo asked if the area were rezoned could a strip mall be put in place. He was told that was unlikely. It has been operating as legal non conforming use and grandfathered for that use. Mark Smith said that the owners want to put the legal non conforming status into legal and conforming.

The Public Meeting was adjourned.


660 Community Road was Carried

25 Melon Street was the subject for a number of questions. Councillor Johnson proposed the proposal be deferred. Councillor Ruberto asked if there were deadlines on that. It would take months according to Mr. Smith.


The developer agreed to lower the building height, and increase the side distance to 6 metres.

The deferral was defeated.

  The proposal was approved.

2109 Mahogany Way Approved

730 Syndicate Ave South Approved

Mark Smith
Mr. Smith was working hard tonight to help the Council move through the agenda.

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