Public meeting over St Catharines Ontario Street plan standing room only


Published February 8, 2023 at 9:55 am

Last night, residents lined the Merlot Room in the Holiday Inn and Suites St. Catharines Conference Centre for a question-and-answer session on the Ontario Street Study. (Photo: St. Catharines Ward 4 Councillor Caleb Ratzlaff)

A public meeting on the Ontario Street Study saw a huge turn-out last night (Feb. 7) at the Holiday Inn and Suites St. Catharines Conference Centre.

Residents lined the Merlot Room for a question-and-answer session on how the City plans to rejuvenate the 50-acres of brownfield (abandoned industrial lands) left behind by the former GM lands at 282 and 285 Ontario Street.

While the initial study started in May 2017, driven by the closure of the auto plant, in a 2019 city-wide land needs assessment, the old GM lands were redesignated for future residential and mixed-use development opportunities.

The former GM lands at 282-285 Ontario Street have been deserted since the auto company left. The two lots are minutes from the downtown St. Catharines core.

Mayor Mat Siscoe was impressed with the turn-out at the public meeting, noting, “There’s a lot of interest in how this process unfolds; I thought staff did an excellent job of explaining and answering questions.”

However, he noted, the process of turning the brownfield into something beneficial to the community has taken years so far and still has work ahead.

“The truth is – this process has taken, and will continue to take time. When (former Ward 4 councillor) Karrie Porter and I met with residents at the beginning of the last term of council in 2019, we laid out how the process would unfold – first with the Land Needs Assessment, then the Official Plan Amendment, and now the Secondary Plan.”

He added after 2019’s Official Plan amendment, “Things have basically tracked as we outlined. The remediation and redevelopment of the former GM lands at 282-285 Ontario St will not be a quick process but ultimately it will be worth it.”

From last night’s meeting, the city will now will review and analyze existing land use, and identify opportunities and constraints. After that, there will be more public consultation until eventually, after a few more internal stages at City Hall, a final Ontario Street Corridor Secondary Plan Study will land in the laps at St. Catharines City Council.

The Ontario Street study area is laid out here.

For a closer look at the Ontario Street study and the stages still remaining, click HERE

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