Location map for 1225 Old Golf Links Road in Ancaster Credit: HANDOUT / City of Hamilton

Ward 12 Councillor Craig Cassar consistently upholds his environmental principles.

Cassar is also one of the most thoughtful and prepared members of Hamilton City Council.

His procedural manoeuvring to block the opening of a self-storage facility in the Ancaster Meadowlands near the former Hamilton-Ancaster boundary is a case study of how removing one line from a bylaw creates a poison pill situation.

The owners of 1225 Old Golf Links Road in Ancaster applied for planning amendments to permit the construction of a five-story self-storage facility on a property that borders a Hydro One power transmission line corridor.

City planning staff recommended approval for the project, and prepared the enacting bylaw for Council approval.

Clr Cassar moved approval of a bylaw changing the zoning to what the developer requested, with one key amendment – removing the permission to operate a self-storage facility.

In effect, Council denied the application.

The developer has appealed to the Ontario Land Tribunal.

Cassar: Permitting Self-Storage Contrary to Council Declaration of Climate Emergency

“I’m supportive of the [Official Plan] Amendment and the Zoning Bylaw Amendment, but not the site-specific designation for storage,” stated Ward 12 Clr Craig Cassar during the Council Planning Committee meeting on November 14, 2023.

“I don’t think that’s an appropriate use and something that we want to be building,”

“In 2019, this Council declared a climate emergency … a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions can not be accomplished by business as usual.”

“Consumerism continues to accelerate the consumption of the planet’s resources,” Cassar continued. “Encouraging more storage just encourages more consumerism and sends a signal that the city is not really serious about the climate emergency.”

Ward 10 Clr Jeff Beattie supported Cassar’s amendment with reservation.

“I’m going to support the ward councillor, I believe that he would know what’s best for the community he represents. But I’m not necessarily sharing the narrative against storage facilities in general,” Beattie stated. He said he’s used self-storage and felt a bit “awkward” and “a little hypocritical” voting against that use.

The amendment passed unanimously at the Planning Committee meeting on November 14, 2023.

It passed 15-1 at Council ratification on November 22, 2023, with Ward 14 Clr Mike Spadafora opposed.

Self-Storage and Intensification

Ontario’s Municipal Property Assessment Corporation noted in 2023 that self-storage facilities support intensification because they allow people to live in condo units while storing things such as seasonal sports equipment:

“There are a number of factors contributing to the self-storage boom, such as smaller dwellings—particularly condominiums—providing less space to store personal possessions,” says Greg Martino, MPAC Vice-President and Chief Valuation and Standards Officer. “The pandemic may have also added to this trend, with more people working from home, looking to store items that have accumulated in their living spaces, downsizing or undergoing renovations.”

The self-storage increase is consistent with data released by MPAC in 2022, showing Ontario condominiums are 35% smaller on average than they were 25 years ago.

Increasing housing costs are also raising the demand for self-storage facilities.

OLT Appeal

The developer, Ancaster Space Station Inc., owned by Steve Grzenda, has appealed City Council’s decision to remove self-storage as a permitted use.

They argue that self-storage at the site is good planning and “supports more compact housing types by providing opportunities for off-site storage.”

No hearing dates have yet been set.

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Published: February 9, 2024
Last edited: February 9, 2024
Author: Joey Coleman
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