An agreement has been reached that puts an end to an Ontario Municipal Board appeal regarding a naturalized area of south Guelph along Niska Road.
The agreement, announced by the OMB earlier this week, allows for more public consultation, notification and input into the future of lands just south of the Niska Road Bridge that are owned by the Grand River Conservation Area.
It also allows for an eventual rezoning of the property to permit low-density residential development somewhere in the future.
Dr. Hugh Whiteley, an environmental engineering expert, environmental activist, and former professor at the University of Guelph, had filed a City of Guelph Official Plan amendment that allows for the eventual sale and development of a 20-acre parcel of land owned by the GRCA.
Whiteley has now withdrawn that appeal as part of the agreement reached at the OMB Wednesday.
The land has not been sold and there is currently no immediate plan to do so, the GRCA has stated. The GRCA is in the process of developing a management plan for the so-called Niska Lands, including the nearby former Kortright Waterfowl Park.
The agreement between Whitely, the city and the GRCA will see the public play a much bigger role in the process moving forward, including the GRCA's creation of a web site aimed at keeping the public informed.
The public will also be consulted in the upcoming development of the GRCA's management plans for the area, including public access trails.
"Provided that the management plan is approved by the GRCA board, the city and the GRCA agree to establish a joint working group which shall include members of the public, to consider the implementation of the trails system on the GRCA lands ... The working group shall consider, among other things, the function, location and character of the trails," reads the agreement.
The land is to be designated for low- to medium-density residential use, which would permit a future development application to propose detached, semi-detached and duplex dwellings, or multiple unit residential buildings such as townhouses, row dwellings and walk-up apartments, said the city in a news release.
“This is good news for everyone involved in the appeal, and for the community,” said Melissa Aldunate, manager of Policy Planning and Urban Design.
“The settlement allows for better communication and consultation with our community for an area that is special to many people in Guelph. We’re pleased the solid planning behind the residential land use designation has been recognized and upheld, and look forward to working with the community on future trail access on the former Kortright Waterfowl Park once the future of those lands is decided,” she said in the news release.