Council considers a ‘sunset clause default’ for all future applications

There are approved subdivisions in town that have remained unbuilt for years, while other areas have the potential to help Fort Erie’s housing shortage but seemingly lack the interest from the building community.

A pair of motions passed by council at the June 24 meeting seeks to find a solution to both problems.

The first, moved by Councillor Tom Lewis asks staff to prepare a report reviewing ways to make sure planning approvals move to the construction phase more quickly–including adding sunset clauses as a default–while the second, which Councillor Nick Dubanow raised, looks to incentivize development along the commercial area of Garrison Road.

“We don’t have a lack of preexisting or pre-approved plans of subdivision, we have a bunch of new ones coming while at the same time preexisting or historically approved plans of subdivision sit idle and not built,” Lewis said when introducing his motion.

Lewis’ motion specifically calls for the “consideration of a sunset clause default for all applications.”

Town councillors have been increasingly interested in the use of sunset clauses for proposed developments. If the developer doesn’t begin construction in a certain time after receiving a zoning bylaw or official plan amendment, then the zoning for that property reverts to its original state.

Earlier that night, councillors approved an amendment that included a sunset clause for the Hershey Estates development.

Dubanow’s motion, meanwhile, asked for staff to consider options such as a community improvement plan that would incentivize and encourage medium and higher density and mixed-use intensification in the Garrison Road commercial area.

“We have a lot of very, I want to say, underutilized parcels,” Dubanow said of the area. But with commercial areas nearby he said it’s a location that could accommodate higher density and reduce car dependency for people who would live there by allowing them to walk to nearby stores.

Director of Planning Anamika Dilwaria suggested they could include that work and reporting within some of the broader planning work they’re doing with the official plan and a possible affordable housing community improvement plan.

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