A Proactive Plan?The So Called 'Hospital Corridor' Is Anything But

If you’re raising a family in Grimsby, you must have spent some quality time with your kids at Centennial Park. After school hours, parents come here and exchange experiences while kids learn to climb, slide and play with each other. This is one of the most cherished green spaces in the area.

Sonia is a mother of two who comes to the park with her young children. She lives in Stoney Creek where she and her husband bought an apartment in one of the new four-storey developments, close to Fruitland. They thought they could raise a happy family there. But she often drives to Grimsby to spend some quality time with her children at the Nelles Park, then savor a great gelatto together at Monk’s.

“We can’t raise our children in our condo. It’s just too small and it’s really noisy. Parks are few and crowded and now they’re building everywhere. We’ll end up playing with our kids at the Mall… Why would they build those condos around here, too?” - she said during one of her visits.

Mrs. O’Sullivan, a retired teacher who lives in the small grey house at 140 Main St. East, also doesn’t see any need for multi-storey residential buildings in her neighbourhood.

“This house was a cottage when we bought it. I’m still very happy here”, she says. A proud owner, very connected with Grimsby’s community, Mrs. O’Sullivan is worried about the Town’s plans for redevelopment of Main St. East. “We already have everything we need - convenience shopping, doctors, and the hospital”. Like many of us, she is wondering why does the Town think that intensification would improve this busy and active area that already serves a large neighbourhood and beyond?

Indeed, many things don’t make sense in our Planning Department and other supporting officials’ rhetoric about this plan: we need to be “shovel-ready” when the new hospital gets built; we need to create a “medical hub” and also intensify; we need to achieve new density targets while guaranteeing “compatibility” with the rest of the neighbourhood… In all this noise that creates confusion, one thing makes sense: developers are taking over.

“Lately, they call me every few weeks from Toronto. They ask if I want to sell” says Mrs. O’Sullivan.

Who can blame them? Developers are businesses. They buy land and they develop houses, condos or commercial buildings that they sell or lease to make a profit. From Region to Towns, they lobby our officials to increase that profit by all means possible. And if things don’t go their way, they will try to find loopholes in our by-laws to get what they want.

And lately, in Grimsby, things have gone the way of the developers, a lot. So much so, that despite of our limited land supply and residents’ opposing wishes, we’ve championed our development targets since 2015.

And we ain’t seen nothing yet! Wait for the 15-storey highrise at the west end (see the facts here, and here), the transformation of our quaint Downtown, or the condos that will pop along the lake shore.

So, what can be done to tame this aggressive development and not lose our Main St. East, too?

A responsible council, Planning Department, and regional representative would simply do NOTHING.

You see, on that stretch of Main St. East targeted by our Town for intensification and cleverly called “The Hospital Corridor”, residential land uses are not currently permitted, and the by-law limits the height of buildings to 8.5m. That height allows you to enjoy large views of the escarpment, and because of the non-residential limitation you can still move your car through the area at peak hours.

If a developer wants to build a condo there, they have to apply for an Official Plan and Zoning Amendment. That is an expensive, lengthy and uncertain process that requires public consultations - all at the developer’s expense. With the new LPAT rules (former OMB) there is some more power in the hands of a responsible Council not to allow this kind of developments where they are not permitted.

If you asked yourself why does the Town and our Regional Representative think that a Secondary Plan will help, a better question would be: whom will it help?

Some of its goals are to achieve new “intensification targets” and “higher densities”. That is, it will help the Town and the Region brag about their performance for the next four years, while handing developers a good portion of our Main St. East on a platter.

Despite what some of our incumbent candidates say, this particular Secondary Plan will not “limit development”. If it goes ahead the way the project consultant stated at the Council meeting in July, it will allow four-storey condos to rise up with no strings attached for developers, other than some guiding rules for facades and “shapes of buildings”.

While the developers will get rewarded with more heights and densities in exchange for “community benefits”, we, the residents, will be left to pick up the tab: more traffic, noise, pollution, crowded schools, loss of trees and fewer green spaces. In short, a lower quality of life both for young families and our senior residents alike.

Luckily, this election gives us a real chance to make a change. So, spread the word about this plan, stay informed and don’t forget to vote!


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