130 Wellington Street South is seen in this June 2022 photo. Credit: Joey Coleman

The planned five-day hearing for a multiplex at 130 Wellington Street South was cancelled at the Ontario Land Tribunal on May 30th due to a dispute regarding the qualifying of Michael Barton to provide expert testimony at the Ontario Land Tribunal on behalf of 130 Wellington Corp.

Barton is a Registered Professional Planner, the principle of MB1 Consulting, and has been qualified multiple times by the Ontario Land Tribunal as an expert witness on land use planning.

It is extremely rare for the Tribunal not to qualify Registered Professional Planners as expert witnesses.

Barton was retained by the applicant as the planner for their planning application submitted to the City of Hamilton. Barton also served as the applicant’s representative during the first Case Management Conference in front of the OLT.

A group of nearby residents were granted Party status. Jesse Razaqpur, one of the residents, is representing the group. Razaqpur is a lawyer and is self-representing in front of the Tribunal.

Briefly, the property owner applied to the City to legalize a six-unit multiplex conversion of the three-storey Victorian home on the site. The City’s planning staff recommended Council approve the application.

Nearby residents were opposed. Ward 2 Councillor Jason Farr agreed with their concerns that there are too many rentals in Corktown, and Council voted down the application.

Farr said he expects the Ontario Land Tribunal to overturn Council’s denial, and approve the application as it meets the requirements of both City of Hamilton policies and provincial planning policies.

A May 9th email to the OLT from the City of Hamilton’s outside lawyer states Razaquar is filing a motion to the Tribunal challenging Barton’s ability to meet the OLT’s requirement for expert witnesses to “provide opinion evidence that is fair, objective and non-partisan.”

On May 18, the Tribunal granted an adjournment to a later date to hear this motion.

“The matter of Mr. Barton’s prior involvement as a planning representative at the early stage of the application, which is not without precedent, and also as advocate, can be addressed with the presiding Panel member,” wrote the Tribunal case coordinator in the May 18 adjournment notice.

The rescheduled hearing date is not yet set.

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First published: June 10, 2022
Last edited: June 10, 2022
Author: Joey Coleman
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