Please note that councilor Frank Mark was the only one not to support the interim control by-law that would help protect Stratford.
Wal-Mart intentions stun city council
Have sights set on Gary Stockie property on Ontario Street
By Donal O'Connor
Wal-Mart, it appears, has not given up on its idea of locating a department store in Stratford's east end commercial area.
In a startling revelation to city council last night, planning consultant Warren Sorensen informed council that CRAFT Development Corp. representatives have advised they are working with Wal-Mart and that the retailer "wants them to proceed with plans and building as they have submitted."
The city's planning consultant said that although no large commercial owner has been formally identified for a proposed 89,000 square foot building at Ontario St. and C.H. Meier Blvd., "Wal-Mart Project, Stratford, 892-920 Ontario Street" appears in the title block on landscape drawings submitted as part of a site plan application.
"The impression conveyed is that Wal-Mart is interested in locating on the site," said Sorensen in a written report to council that he presented in person.
"That would constitute a significant departure from the intent of the city policies so recently endorsed by the OMB (Ontario Municipal Board)," Sorensen said.
Following discussions that included a closed-door meeting with city solicitor Jose Matera, council accepted Sorensen's advice to bring in an interim control bylaw to prohibit use of a commercially zoned strip of land along the north side of Ontario Street for a department store.
As well, council accepted advice that a planning study be undertaken that would "at a minimum" examine all the lands along Ontario St. East between Romeo St. and the city limits that are designated commercial or zoned highway commercial.
The control bylaw, that would be in effect for up to a year, would ensure that the planning study can be carried out before any development occurs that would prejudice the results of the study or prejudice the achievement of the city's commercial structure policies, explained Sorensen.
As a story in Saturday's Beacon Herald indicated, the land assembled by CRAFT Development Corp. includes the former Gary Stockie automobile dealership property and a former Taco Bell restaurant.
Responding to a question from Coun. Dave Gaffney, Matera told council the proposed interim control bylaw could be appealed to the OMB by property owners and she expected there might be some appeals.
Lands proposed for inclusion in the study area extend from the east city limits to Romeo St. and are mostly, but not exclusively, on the north side of Ontario St. The proposed study area does not include industrial lands.
In his report Sorensen points out that the prospect of building demolition and redevelopment can increase the potential for developing significant retail facilities within developed areas of the Ontario St. East commercial corridor and there are other locations where that could also occur and "unanticipated retail developments" could come forward.
At 90,000 square feet, compared to the 135,000 square feet Wal-Mart/Avonwood Shopping Centres Ltd. had proposed for an earlier store, the new configuration doesn't reflect "conventional Wal-Mart footprints," Sorensen said.
But he advised the development proposal for the northwest corner of Ontario and C.H. Meier would prejudice the city's ability to achieve its long range commercial plans - plans supported by the OMB in its decision earlier this year.
Only Coun. Frank Mark voted against following the planner's advice.
VICTORY FOR LOCAL DEMOCRACY THREATENED
Stratford won the OMB decision. Official Plan Amendment 10 is official. OMB forced Stratford to pay legal fees incurred protecting our Official Plan. Walmart is Again Disrespecting the spirit and intent of our Official Plan by taking advantage of zoning loophole and building in East area of Strtaford.