On May 12, 2005 the Council of the City of Niagara Falls as part of its input for the 2015 Co-ordinated Review, (of the Growth Plan, Greenbelt Plan, Oak Ridges Moraine Plan and Niagara Escarpment Plan) made a surprising recommendation. Its brief which was sent into the province as part of the public comment period, (which ends on May 28th), called for a major reduction in the area of the Niagara Escarpment Plan (NEP) and the Greenbelt. It added that should the area not be removed from the NEP then it should be designated as Escarpment Urban. The lands in question are north of Mountain Road, west of the Queen Elizabeth Highway and east of Garner Road.
The area in question is currently designated by the NEP as Escarpment Rural and by the Niagara Region’s Official Plan as “Good Grape.” Most of the area are high quality vineyards, used for wine. They are immediately south of the forested “Escarpment Natural” section of the NEP, traversed by the Bruce Trail.
Usually recommendations for urban boundary expansions are based on calculations of need for some purpose as residential, industrial, or commercial use, based on a lack of supply. This was not taken by the City of Niagara Falls in its recommendation to the province. Instead it stressed that the lands proposed for urbanization were “effectively situated between Brock University and Niagara College.” This in the council’s view made it a good site for a “centre for excellence, technology and innovation.”
The surprise of the recommendation by Niagara Falls Council is highlighted by the fact that it was made a month after the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) rejected a request by the City of Niagara Falls to expand its urban boundaries immediately south of the NEP area on Mountain Road through Amendment 106 to its official plan. The rejection of this amendment also has the impact of removing services from another potential area of urban expansion for the city, Amendment 107. The OMB rejected Amendment 106 largely on the basis of lack of need and the City of Niagara Falls is now engaged in a judicial appeal of the decision.
This article is by John Bacher of Niagara Region.