Niagara-on-the-Lake Council reverses course, green lights White Oakes development proposal

Lord Mayor Gary Zalepa was among those who voted in favour of the proposal both times. Pictured: Niagara-on-the-Lake council. Photo Credit: City of Niagara-on-the-Lake. 

A major new development was approved by Niagara-on-the-Lake councillors despite councillors having recommended the rejection of the same application when meeting as the planning committee just two weeks prior. 

When council met on June 11 as the planning committee (which is a committee of the whole), many expressed concerns about a proposed application to add a new four-tower mixed-use development project on the White Oakes Resort and Spa’s property on Taylor Road in Glendale.  

In particular, there was significant concern about the height of the towers on the new development. 

The development plan includes plans to build two structures. The first one will have two towers, with 17 and 21 storeys respectively, while the second one will also have two towers, with 18 and 25 storeys respectively. 

The application, submitted by LANDx Developments, also includes plans for 1,318 parking spaces, both above and below the surface, as well as tennis courts. In addition, there are plans to include 1,515 metres of commercial and retail space. 

LANDx Developments President Tim Collins made the pitch to council, as he had previously done to councillors via the planning committee. 

The local Glendale community has expressed concern about the height of the new towers and the impact adding 810 residential units would have on the area. More than 600 local residents signed a petition opposing the project. 

Even though the planning committee (which includes all of council) voted to reject the proposed application in a 5-4 vote on June 11, councillors reconsidered the proposal and voted on June 25 to approve it. The June 25 vote was 8-1, with only Councillor Sandra O’Connor voting to continue to oppose the project.

Lord Mayor Gary Zalepa was among those who voted in favour of the proposal both times. 

The project first began back in 2010, but its costs have increased significantly in recent years. The developer needed another green light from council because the new proposal is larger and taller than the original project, approved in 2010.

The new development is now estimated to cost $500 million. 

To help offset some of the increased costs, the developer increased the proposal’s density by 20 per cent over its original 2010 proposal. That change has now been given the green light by council. 

The developer argued it “needs” the additional density to make the project work in an economic sense. 

Some things do remain up in the air. Transport Canada still needs to rule and accept higher storeys: originally the secondary plan only called for buildings with a height of 16 storeys and the maximum height of buildings within four miles of the Niagara District Airport is six storeys. 

However, the developer has repeatedly expressed confidence that Transport Canada will approve the change. 

The developer also indicated a willingness to work with the community to potentially make some minor changes going forward during the site plan process. 

Once completed, the development is projected to generate millions of dollars in new tax revenue for both the town and Niagara Region. There will also be millions of dollars generated through development charges. 

The developer also claims as many as 133 new jobs will be created because of the development. 

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