Councillor unhappy with city’s comments on township zoning bylaw

Guelph-Eramosa councillors disagreed with the City of Guelph’s stance on the township’s zoning bylaw, but went along with it to appease county officials.

The township has been working for some time on an update and consolidation of its zoning bylaw to take care of several “housekeeping” items.

As a neighbouring municipality, Guelph can comment on the new bylaw. City staff stated they are concerned about proposed changes, particularly those close to the city-township boundary.

The city requested that, for lands outside the township’s settlement areas, “automobile sales establishment” not be added as a permitted use, and “business or professional of­fice” be permitted only where it is an accessory to another per­mitted use.

Guelph-Eramosa councillor Doug Breen has no problem with the car sales request, but he took exception on Monday night to Guelph’s office stipulation.

He objected to the city  telling the township what to do “on land they haven’t annexed yet.” He added the city is currently building office buildings – that aren’t accessories to another use – but telling the township it cannot do the same thing.

“This is politics,” Breen said, noting the city likely just does not want the competition for such businesses from the township.

Planner Bernie Hermsen said a “stand alone” office was not intended to be part of the M1 industrial zone and, as it stands, is currently not included in the county official plan as a permitted use in that zone.

He noted the county is currently undergoing its five-year review of the plan and county planner Gary Cousins has asked the township to acquiesce to the city’s requests.

Hermsen explained if the city objects to the bylaw, the first test at an Ontario Muni­cipal Board hearing would be if the bylaw conforms to the official plan – and if it does not, the township will lose.

So Hermsen suggested work­ing with the county and ad­dressing the office issue at a later date.

Breen said he did not want to wait for the county, but eventually council unanimously passed the new zoning bylaw with the city’s recommendations. Councillor Roger Knapp was absent.

Mayor Chris White said the idea of including offices is not to change the rural atmosphere, but to provide as much flexibility as possible for the township’s “employment lands.”

He called having accessory offices included an important first step to opening the bylaw to stand alone offices as well.