It’s a decision that Township councillors hope will ease the minds of seniors living in the Cedar Creek Estates mobile home park.
After months of uncertainty, council voted 6-3 on July 23 to maintain the land use designation of the park as Single Family 3 in the new 2017 Brookswood-Fernridge Community Plan.
While the other four mobile home parks in the area were given a manufactured home park designation in the updated plan, Cedar Creek’s designation of Single Family 3 caused outrage and confusion among the park’s tenants, who feared they would lose their homes to redevelopment.
The property’s zoning, different from the designation, is manufactured home park.
Located at 3031 200 St., the 50-year-old park is open only to people over the age of 55 and is home to 150 residents, many of whom are retirees.
When the 2017 Brookswood-Fernridge Community Plan went to public hearing last year, there was an outcry from Cedar Creek residents. Based on their feedback, after the community plan was approved in October, council directed staff to immediately work on an amendment to change Cedar Creek’s land use designation.
This amendment was given first and second reading by council in November, and a public hearing was held on Dec. 11.
At that time, the landowner, Louie Bortolazzo of Grappa Investments Corp, came forward and said he did not want to change the designation, and instead suggested a 10-year covenant be placed on the property for no future development.
The hearing was then adjourned until Feb. 19, 2018 to give time for Bortolazzo to meet with the tenants to discuss their concerns, but it appears a consensus had not been reached, a staff report says.
There was much discontent and disagreement between the property owner and tenants at the February hearing.
Shortly afterward, on March 2, Bortolazzo submitted an application to rezone the property from manufactured home park to residential zone R-1D for a future subdivision of 73 single family lots.
Just days later, on March 5, council was supposed to consider third reading of the land use designation amendment, but instead voted to send it back to staff.
Fast forward to July 23, and staff recommended council not change the designation as 90 per cent of the tenants signed a petition asking that it remain as Single Family 3. Bortolazzo also “indicated a willingness to withdraw the current rezoning application,” the staff report states.
Coun. Petrina Arnason, who voted against leaving the designation as-is, said she believes this will not help protect the manufactured home park in light of growing development pressures.
“I do appreciate that this has been put forward as a result of a rather challenging situation further to the new OCP and zoning. However, I’m not going to be supporting (it) just going back to what was originally proposed,” she said.
“The only way to decrease the pressure is to enforce existing zoning and to limit the use to mobile home parks and preserve this in any OCP.”
Coun. Kim Richter and David Davis were opposed as well. Richter asked if the Township has any guarantees that Bortolazzo will withdraw his rezoning application.
Ramin Seifi, Township general manager of engineering and community development, said staff have “a commitment of the landowner to not pursue and withdraw the application,” but he can still legally present a new application further down the road.
“Even if this was a requirement of the process going forward, the fact remains that the property owner can submit a new application at any time for re-consideration or consideration of council, which would be subject to council’s normal process of considering the application on its own merit,” Seifi said.
Coun. Charlie Fox said he was in favour as it would give some security to the tenants.
“I realize it’s not necessarily a perfect solution, but it’s a solution to a situation which created a lot of anxiety and a lot of discomfort for its residents,” Fox said.
Coun. Blair Whitmarsh noted that manufactured home parks have protection under municipal and provincial policies.
“I think that it’s clear now that the residents of that community have received good information and are able to clarify in their own minds about what’s happening there. It’s clear that approximately 90 per cent support leaving the designation as it is, and I think we should continue to move in that direction and I’ll certainly be supporting it,” he said.
Coun. Angie Quaale agreed.
“When I first read this report, I thought maybe that was a typo — 90 per cent, I didn’t think we’d ever get to a place where we had that high of a consensus on any sort of proposal coming from that area,” she said.
“And I’m really glad that we’ve spent the time with some assistance from some outside consulting to figure this out and get to a place where the residents have some security in their home.”