McMaster’s for-profit student residence project will proceed to construction in the near future following the withdrawal of Concerned Residents of Westdale as a party to proceedings at the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal.
The proposed 1,373 bed for-profit student residence development at 1190 Main Street West was appealed to the LPAT by McMaster University and its private partner Knightstone Capital Management.
McMaster filed their appeal for non-decision prior to rule changes as the Ontario Municipal Board morphed into the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal in April 2018. The transition included significant rule changes which were seen as less favourable to developers.
Hundreds of appeals were filed across Ontario just prior to the changes, causing a significant backlog – some appeals are waiting three years for hearings.
In 2018, McMaster was forthcoming about the reasons for their appeal, and stated their wished to reach an agreement with City Council during a public meeting of Council’s Planning Committee.
McMaster’s non-decision appeals consisted of two parts: an appeal of the zoning by-law (ZBA) and an appeal regarding Official Plan Amendment (OPA) for the site. The LPAT rejected the OPA appeal as premature.
Thus, a public hearing for the OPA application was held in October 2019.
City Council approved the OPA application granting official plan amendments to all McMaster to construct “two storey grade related units along Traymore Avenue, a step back to eight storeys and a further step back to 10 storeys for the majority of the proposed buildings” and a “15 storey tower on the western side of the development adjacent to the McMaster health sciences complex.
Council further instructed city staff to submit to the LPAT that the City is in favour of amending the zoning by-law to allow the development.
However, because McMaster had appealed to the LPAT, Council’s approval was not final.
The Tribunal held a pre-hearing of the appeal in June 2019, as is standard practice for the LPAT, during which a local residents group Concerned Residents of Westdale gained Party status in the appeal.
Thus, this group had the ability to request a full LPAT hearing, settle with McMaster and Council, or withdraw their appeal.
Legal counsel for the Concerned Residents of Westdale (which incorporated for the purposes of becoming a Party to the LPAT appeal) sent notice of their withdraw on July 16, 2020 by email to the LPAT case coordinator.
With both McMaster and Council having reached an agreement, it was extremely unlikely the LPAT would impose a different outcome. Thus, the withdrawal saves the resident’s group further legal costs in pursuing a full hearing.
City and McMaster to Formalize Agreement
In the coming days, McMaster and the City will formally request the LPAT to schedule a hearing to approve the settlement they reached in October 2019.
Andrea Dear, the Senior Planner for the City of Hamilton who is managing the file, once this is complete, city staff will complete the site plan approval process.
McMaster Plans to Start Construction this Winter, Open in 2023
“If the zoning is approved, we hope to start construction during the winter of 2020/21 with an opening expected in the summer of 2023”, McMaster spokesperson Michelle Donovan writes.
“McMaster has worked very closely with the residents in the community to respond to their concerns. We have made many adjustments to the design and the overall flow of students both in and around the building in response to these concerns.”
McMaster says it will be working with nearby residents “to ensure the building is a success”
The Public Record has reached out to Ward 1 Councillor Maureen Wilson for comment.
Production Details v. 1.0.0 First published: July 20, 2020 Last edited: July 20, 2020 Author: Joey Coleman Edit Record v. 1.0.0 original version v. 1.1.0 added comment from McMaster University