By PAM DOUGLAS
More than 1,400 members have joined a Facebook site rallying Heart Lake residents to voice their outrage at the recent Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) approval of a multi-highrise development.
Residents are passing around petitions and promoting an email blitz of Brampton MPPs, the provincial minister, and the OMB. They are questioning the democracy of a system in which an unelected OMB official can override a unanimous city council decision coupled with strong community opposition of a development.
They aren’t the only ones questioning the system. Brampton City Councillors have expressed their upset at being overruled and are now calling for changes to the process.
With last month’s approval for six highrises at the corner of Conestoga Drive and Sandalwood Parkway, it’s the third time in four years similar decisions have been made by the OMB in relation to a Brampton development. City councillors unanimously rejected a developer’s proposal to build homes on a portion of Castlemore golf course. Residents in the area and city staff were also opposed to the development, but the OMB gave the developer the go-ahead following a hearing last year. Environmental, land use and community design issues were cited as the major local concerns.
The OMB also approved a townhouse development on Vodden Street near Laurelcrest Street in 2006, despite opposition from city council, city staff, and area residents. Traffic issues and land use compatibility were the issues behind the city’s denial of the application.
Brampton Mayor Susan Fennell will lobby the province to change the rules so unanimous council decisions are not appealable to the OMB.
The Facebook site set up by residents is at http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=109141262461473&v=wall&ref=ts.