Ward 5 Clr Matt Francis on Planning: What He Supports What He Does Not

HANDOUT/LJM Developments

Developers 2021 Render of a proposed 16-storey building at 651 Queenston Road in Hamilton

Ward 5 Councillor Matt Francis is supporting a proposed sixteen-storey 316-unit proposal on the northwest corner at Nash and Queenston.

Last week, staff came forth to Council to state they cannot support the current proposal because it is double the permitted eight storeys for the site in the Centennial Neighbourhood Secondary Plan.

The proposal does not meet the stepbacks required by the City-Wide Corridor Planning Principles and Design Guidelines and “encroachments into the angular plane above the seventh storey.”

The Ontario Land Tribunal will make the decision. The developer, LJM, filed a non-decision appeal 205 days after they filed their application.

Council had a 120-day deadline to make a decision.

Francis’ comments at Council Planning Committee were concise, which is proving to be his style during meetings.

There was no political hedging, no weasel words.

With the ward councillor in favour of the height and density, what remains is negotiating water and sewage services.

City staff write, “sanitary servicing is constrained and unable to accommodate the proposed increase in wastewater generation and the existing sanitary sewer system does not have sufficient capacity to accommodate the proposed development.”

I spoke with Francis after Wednesday’s Council meeting to learn more about his land-use planning philosophy.

But first, let’s go back to his election statements.

Election Promise to Stop Over-Development, Allow Good Development

When running for Ward 5 councillor, Matt Francis promised to stop over-development.

Here is a selection of his statements during his The 155 Election Podcast interview:

“I’ve seen a troubling trend of over intensification, traffic and parking concerns that are coming forward from residents. Because of this over-intensification and over-development, people are seeing a drastic change in the way that their established communities function. And it’s troubling to me I know we’ve got growth is inevitable, but that has got to be done in the right places and not at the expense of our residents.”

“I want to keep taxes low and not overdevelop our city.”

Francis stated he would support good development. Emphasis added:

“I will never support proposals that negatively impact our residents and their property values. Growth is inevitable, but it must be done in the right places, and our major transit corridors should be the first place we start. Before we even consider changing the way our established neighbourhoods.”

Why He Supports 16 Storeys at Nash and Queenston

Francis says he supports this proposal because sixteen storeys is appropriate for the site because of the planned LRT and that it is not over-development.

He says it is “a lot more palatable for the community” than the forty-two storeys proposed at Eastgate Square 500 metres to the east on Queenston Road.

“I’m trying to make the example that eight to sixteen is much more appropriate than twenty to forty-two,” he says.

Does Not Support Two Tall Buildings at King and Centennial

Francis does not support a proposal for two tall buildings at 2900 King Street East. This site is on the south-west corner at Centennial Parkway.

“The difference is we’re talking about an LRT corridor number one versus not an LRT corridor,” Francis said.

2900 King East “is very close to the downtown Stoney Creek core,” he says, adding it “will set a precedent in downtown Stoney Creek and that’s what scares me about that proposal. And on top of that, the path there’s no way to turn left out of that particular location.”

“Unless there’s some sort of solution that I’m unaware of, there’s no way that one’s going to be very problematic.”

On Eastgate Square Concerns

Asked about his present position regarding the proposed redevelopment of Eastgate Square, Francis stated:

“There’s a lot more discussions that need to be had with the community. I do think the community spoke very loud and clear during the election. That the current proposal is way far out of line with what’s acceptable for that intersection and for those for that community.”

Precedent and Planning

Francis’ statement on the LJM Nash Road project does not, on its own, create a precedent.

Precedent requires a Council vote to adopt the position when the City’s planning lawyers go in front of the Ontario Land Tribunal for a settlement hearing.

It signals to the landowners of the large commercial sites between the Red Hill Parkway and Eastgate Square that the ward councillor is willing to support mid-rise development.

This is the stretch of the B-Line LRT with the greatest uplift potential. It is important to Hamilton’s economic and housing goals to see it redeveloped into mixed-use higher density uses.

The Eastgate proposal can be argued at the Ontario Land Tribunal with its current proposed height and density.

We’ll have to watch and see what happens.

The Nash and Queenston appeal remains at the Ontario Land Tribunal.

It is assigned case number OLT-22-004546.

Notice of first pre-hearing has not yet been issued.


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Published: December 8, 2022
Last edited: December 8, 2022
Author: Joey Coleman
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