A much-anticipated hearing at the community centre Thursday drew a full house, most of those in attendance anxious to hear the status of the SORE group in the planning appeal for the Randwood hotel development.
The Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) hearing was not about the merits of the appeal, chair Blair Taylor made clear. “That’s going to come later, not today.”
The purpose of the case management conference was to discuss who would have third party status, and to set a date for the appeal by Solmar and Two Sisters Resorts Corp., one of several legal actions between the development company and the Town over the proposal to build a six-storey hotel on John Street.
“While you think that this is relatively straight forward, there are matters going on outside this hearing, that could change the way the hearing unfolds,” the chair said, referring to the Red Deck case in Toronto, which is awaiting a decision.
A case management conference is required under the new LPAT legislation for appeals of major land use planning matters, such as official plans and zoning bylaws. It may also be held to bring parties together for mediation or settlement before the hearing itself.
The first issue discussed Thursday, that of third party status, was quickly settled. After brief presentations of their reasons for wanting to be involved when the appeal is heard, lawyer Patrick Little representing the SORE (Save Our Randwood Estate) group, and Daniel Richer, representing the Niagara Parks Commission, were granted their requests.
Richer explained his interest in the hearing is due to the proximity of parks commission property to the sites under appeal at 144 and 176 John St.
Once consent was given to both, lawyer Nancy Smith, representing the Town asked for and was granted a postponement of the case management conference, to allow time for a decision on the Red Deck appeal.
At issue in that case is the process of the appeals hearing, including what evidence can be introduced. Arguments were heard in a Toronto court last week, and a decision is expected soon, said Smith. Since the outcome could change how the Two Sisters appeal proceeds, she asked to “stop the clock” for eight weeks, stipulating that an appeal of the Toronto court decision would not further postpone the local planning appeal hearing.
The decision, she said, “may inform how we approach our case substantively.”
A recent move by the Province to introduce Bill 108, which includes changes to LPAT legislation, could also impact the process going forward, she said.
The chair agreed to the delay, saying it made good sense, and called a brief adjournment to connect with the LPAT registrar, returning with a future date of July 29 to reconvene, at which time a date for the appeal to be heard could be set.
But Michael Melling, counsel for Two Sisters, wasn’t done with the crowd, asking them to remain after the adjournment. He told the audience he was confident if the lawyers involved have an opportunity to work together, the case will be resolved.
“If we can’t, it won’t be because we haven’t tried.”