New Zoning Bylaw… Yea or Nay??

The end of June sees the first round of consultations with the Citizens of St. Catharines. Over the summer, the City Planning Team will be reviewing the suggestions, recommendations and proposals received in the series of Open House meetings. While much attention has been focused on the Downtown area of late, Grantham Ward,  a very residential area, will be affected by the changes being proposed. 

With the adoption of the “Garden City Plan” by the Regional Government, this extensive work on the Zoning Bylaw seeks to eliminate the many variables of regulations in different Wards of the City and to simplify, consolidate and remove contradicting regulations that presently exist. This sounds like a very positive progression for our City, until one recognizes that St. Catharines is also made of distinct neighbourhoods, districts and communities including commercail, manufacturing and residential. 

How will the proposed Zoning Bylaw affect Grantham Ward with its limited commercial and manufacturing and its intensive residential nature? Do the same regulations properly support Grantham Ward if the same rules for Glenridge or Merritton are applied universally?  With a significant density of Seniors making their homes in facilities and private homes in Grantham Ward, will the proposed changes adequately respond to their unique needs?  Will the proposed regulations regarding Student Housing adversely affct the sense of neighbourhoods that make up Grantham Ward? 

It is proposed that adding additional living space, potential rentals, in a single family home by creating an apartment in the basement of the hosue, has a very positive component in that any such construction must be by Building permit, be subject to inspections as created and meet all fire and construction regulations. This solves the concern than many such existing accommodations which have been created without inspections and permits, may be hazardous for the tenants who are without proper exit plans or abilities … but it has the possibility of making trouble as the same regulations do NOT require additional parking spaces as part of the plan. Imagine four such homes on your street, with the tenants’ cars parked on the street during a snow storm … will plowing of the snow be even more restricted … will the sense of neighbours be changed as occasional tenants become a significant part of the street? 

On the same topic, easing the regulations for “Home Based Businesses” is also being proposed. So small businesses … accountants, hairdressers, small wood work shops, consulting firms … may appear in many more homes … and with small signs on the front lawn to identify the business, does a residential street become more of a commercial area, possibly detracting from the gentle convivial neighbourhood that presently exists. And again, without mandated additional parking, clients of these businesses will also become users of the streets for their cars with added danger to children playing, or the inability of visitors to find a place near a home.

At present there is but one area of the City that prohibits the parking of large recreational vehicles, boats and such in private driveways, the proposed bylaw would see general permission in all parts of the city for the parking of these large blockages to neighbour’s views, creating problems as neighbours back out of their driveways without a sight line for oncoming traffic.  Having an opinion, one way of the other, can be only actively considered if your point of view is heard and noted. 

Grantham Ward is well served with Parks and “Parkettes” … small parks for just relaxing. The proposed bylaw suggests that a number of Parketts be re-zoned for building lots. As the density of population increases due to Government regulations, the loss of open space where kids and parents  can play, where gentle summer evenings can be enjoyed, where a number of tress can be planted to create a mini-forest … the loss of such open spaces seems to be contrary to community life for the nearby residents. 


The “Friends of Walker’s Creek”  will be holding a Community meeting with the City Planning Group to discuss the proposed zoning Bylaw and hear the Planning Team’s explanations of these and other suggestions and recommendations. 

This is your opportunity to make your thoughts, suggestions, opinions known and to clarify what will be happening with the Zoning Plan which will influence life in Grantham Ward for many years to come.

Silence is the least wise option!!