City of Hamilton memo to Committee of Adjustment stating staff have changed C7 Commercial Zoning to permit large medical offices, including overnight stay surgical services. [Highlights added] Credit: HANDOUT

The City of Hamilton has modified its C7 “Arterial Commercial” zoning to permit large medical clinics in lands designated for ‘big box’ style commercial uses.

City staff cite recent provincial changes to allow privately operated surgical clinics and diagnostic centres.

“The nature of medical clinics has evolved to include not just small family practitioners servicing neighbourhoods but also large multi-functioning facilities that offer a range of services to the to the [sic] greater community,” reads a City of Hamilton staff memo presented to the Committee of Adjustment on July 2.

“The Provincial Government is also proceeding with allowing medical clinics to provide a greater range of services and allowing overnight accommodation following surgery.”

The City’s Acting Director of Planning and Chief Planner implemented the zoning modification on May 23, 2024, in a non-public “Official Plan Policy Interpretation.”

The City of Hamilton has not released the memo, and does not publicly post official plan policy interpretations.

Zoning Change Implemented by Internal Staff Memo

Hamilton’s commercial zoning was passed in 2017, and medical clinics were permitted in all but two commercial zones.

The decision to not permit medical clinics in C7 zoning was intentional.

Medical clinics are listed as permitted in C6, C5, C4, C3, and C2.

C1 was the only other commercial zoning that did not list medical clinics as permitted.

Hamilton’s zoning bylaw states C7 is reserved for “large-format commercial uses catering to the travelling public and in turn, the built form is reflective through the presence of large buildings. The uses found within the C7 Zone are typically land intensive which may require outdoor storage and sales areas.”

In the past, major zoning changes would go to City Council for deliberation and decision.

First C7 Medical Clinic Approved as Minor Variance Following Zoning Change – A Dental Clinic

1025 Wilson Street East in Ancaster, where the City of Hamilton approved the first large “C7 Commercial Zoning” medical clinic. Photo taken in June 2024

The first medical clinic under the new C7 zoning was approved by Hamilton’s Committee of Adjustment on July 2, 2024. [YouTube link.]

The applicant is Dr. Andrew Adams, a dental surgeon.

He retained former Ward 12 City Councillor Lloyd Ferguson to represent him.

Ferguson states Dr. Adams intends to build a “large 12,000 square foot dental clinic with all kinds of dental disciplines.”

The approval is for a 4460 square metre “medical clinic and business offices” at 1025 Wilson Street West in Ancaster.

The lands are approximately 500 metres west of Highway 403, and across from a SmartCentres plaza that includes a Wal-Mart and Canadian Tire.

The City’s approval does not restrict the operations of the medical clinic. Medical and dental clinics are provincially regulated.

Future C7 Zoning Medical Clinics Will Require Variances Approvals as a Formality

When the City of Hamilton receives an application to build an overnight surgical stay medical facility, the new zoning interpretation means it will be approved as a minor variance if located on C7 Commercial zoned lands.

Currently, C6 Commercial zoning only permits medical offices of up to 2,000 square meetings. Staff can change this by issuing a non-public Official Plan Policy Interpretation memo.

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Published: July 3, 2024
Last updated: July 3, 2024
Author: Joey Coleman
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