While most of the posts here on the Greenbelt flip-flop and its relation to Grimsby have focused on the waterfront lands at 502 Winston Road, not much has been said about the former Greenbelt properties between Oakes Road North/Kelson North and Main Street West/CN rail tracks. That is until now.
Global News has taken a detailed look at some of the lands there. Parts of the lands in question are owned or controlled by an employee (executive assistant) of LiUNA, a large Ford-friendly construction union that has local offices on Hunter Road in Grimsby.
A spokesperson for LiUNA has stated to Global that the union had no knowledge or involvement in the process.
The consultant used to facilitate the Cline Road Greenbelt removal, Matt Johnston of Urban Solutions, has involvement with other properties removed/redesignated from the Greenbelt and was an attendee at the now infamous Ford “Stag and Doe”, as detailed in the Integrity Commisioner’s report.
The IC report also indicates that Mr. Johnston has recently been hired by the developers at 502 Winston Road to assist them with their proposed development on that Greenbelt property.
You can read the Global article here: How a sliver of land connected to a Ford-friendly union was removed from the Greenbelt
Johnston Attends Town of Grimsby’s “Community Redevelopment Roundtable”
An interesting sidenote found while researching this post, was a tweet and LinkedIn post from Urban Solutions on October 12th. In those, Mr. Johnston gives thanks to Harold Madi, Grimsby’s new Director of Planning, the Town and it’s Corporate Leadership Team for hosting a “Community Redevelopment Roundtable”.
So, the Town hosted a development-related event for “stakeholders”, attended by a consultant representing landowners/developers of Greenbelt properties in Town (and elsewhere) and whose take on the event was “Very encouraging sign of things to come!”.
While there is no official record of who else attended this Town of Grimsby event and what was discussed officially or privately, the optics are not good and may represent an interesting avenue of inquiry.
What is on the record however, is that four days later on October 16th, Council in an 8-1 vote, passed a last-minute resolution to try and pursue development on these properties despite the Province’s assurances to Ontarians that all affected properties will be fully returned to the Greenbelt. The only Member of Council voting against the resolution was Councillor Charrois.
That approved resolution claimed the properties were “not controversial”, but as more details are emerging, it appears they are indeed becoming even more controversial than Council had initially assumed.
As a parting thought, did the Town and Council fail to step back, survey the landscape and exercise proper judgement before entangling itself in this whole Greenbelt mess?
Feel free to leave your thoughts and comments on that question on Facebook.