Friday, May 9, 2014


At the Monday, May 5 meeting of Fort Erie's Council in Committee, the spectre of the OMB figured large in the discussion - not as a possible solution to a problem between the planning department and nearby residents of a proposed town house complex on a three acre parcel of land on Rebstock Road in Crystal Beach, but as a threat of expensive costs to fight what is, according to Councillor Stephen Passero, something that  "...will pass at the OMB...."  That's the title of an article by James Culic in Niagara This Week, Fort Erie on track for OMB fight with itself.  While it is true that the OMB has redefined itself as a tool for developers, it is supposedly there to settle differences in a community over zoning and land issues.  Of course, its track record says otherwise and some forward thinkers have called for its demise. But that won't happen as developers are often big campaign supporters for like-minded candidates.

Speaking of which, Ed Lenchyshyn, the president of the developer, Park Lane Homes is a long-time financial supporter of Mayor Doug Martin. A look at the financials of Martin's mayoral campaign donations lists Ed or Park Lane Homes as backers. 

So, I asked myself this question: could this be interpreted as a Conflict of Interest for Martin to be involved in the discussion and vote for the zoning changes recommended by town staff? So, I went to the Integrity Commissioner's website. Here is what it says:

Q5: What are the conflict of interest rules for current public servants?
Ontario Regulation 381/07 specifies the prohibited activities that could put a public servant at risk of a conflict of interest. Conflict of interest rules for current public servants prohibit them from engaging in the following activities:
  • Using their positions to benefit themselves, their spouses or their children
  • Accepting gifts
  • Disclosing confidential information
  • Giving preferential treatment
  • Hiring their spouses, children, parents or siblings
  • Engaging in outside activities that conflict with their public service duties
  • Making personal use of government resources
  • Participating in decision-making where they could benefit from the result
  • Acquiring financial interests related to their duties as public servants.
The regulation also includes requirements for public servants involved in matters that might involve the private sector, as well as rules for former public servants.

Ed Lenchyshyn has often bragged about his advantage in Fort Erie. Is this another example of developers with deep pockets holding sway over regular folks?

A group of people has been studying the townhouse proposal and, after hours of figuring and measurements, they have concluded that, even in its reconfigured form, there is not enough room for emergency vehicles to maneuver within the cul de sac. And that is in dry conditions.  Another question: where is the fire chief on this? Has he taken the time to measure the street and its maneuverability? (/crickets.)

In the article, Martin states: “The problem we have 

here is that our planning policies are basically 

legislated by the province,” said Martin, who noted the 

provincial planners have been pressuring 

municipalities to approve residential intensification 

projects. “The days of large lots and sprawling 

development are basically gone.”

First it was the 'wetlands" now it is "intensification."  Fort Erie has a long way to go before intensification is needed. Just down Rebstock, a large unfinished development of houses on nice-sized lots is stalled. Another town home complex on Schooley Road is inching towards construction. There is plenty of housing stock available in Crystal Beach and all over Fort Erie that is not crammed into a small lot.  The Rebstock Road development will stand in stark contrast to the surrounding homes.  It is totally unnecessary and will be an eyesore and a safety hazard if it is built to its present configuration.

Once again the opinion of residents/taxpayers is ignored and they are soon faced with high legal bills to fight for their rights.

And some people wonder why people worked for and voted for the four councillors. At least they listen to their constituents about zoning issues.

Meanwhile Doug Martin still calls Ed Lenchyshyn his friend and campaign supporter.

UPDATE:  What Mr. Lenchyshyn did was the same tactic used by the Molinaros. It is textbook procedure amongst developers. That is, the first plans provided have way too much development for the property. Anyone remember the Two Towers proposal from the Molinaros?  There was no way that two twelve story condo towers would fit on the south side of the Bay Beach Properties. We knew it too. As predicted, the Molinaros pulled back and provided an amended proposal with only one tower.  So too, Park Lane Homes has dropped one townhouse off its proposal of twenty-four. In fact, in order for the development to fit in with the neighbourhood, it would need to drop back to twenty or less units. 

For further information about the OMB, see the recent video regarding an OMB decision that has affected residents in Toronto.