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Brock Township sends a message to the Region of Durham about the Beaverton housing project

DAN CEARNS, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, for The Standard

BROCK: The Township of Brock has sent a response to the Region of Durham regarding the controversial supportive housing project in Beaverton.

Last week, Brock council voted to send a formal response letter to the Region about the 50 unit supportive housing development slated to be created in Brock Township. In a statement, Deputy Mayor Ted Smith explained the purpose of this formal response. “The Region’s January 28th news release, on the Beaverton Supportive Housing Project, stated Brock Township has not provided responses or feedback to the Region on its recent proposals, regarding the project,” he stated. “This is very disappointing, as it is not accurate, because the Township and the Region have been in regular discussions regarding these proposals, over the last couple of months, mainly through staff. However, I acknowledge the Region provided the Township today with clarification of its statement and confirmation of these conversations.”

The letter is signed by Township CAO Dean Hustwick, and is addressed to Durham Region CAO Elaine Baxter-Trahair.

“It is important to clarify that prior to each of the steps the Township has taken, in response to the Region’s proposed development, [the] Township of Brock, [meaning] the ‘Township’ Council, has sought and received the advice of its [legal] counsel, Loopstra Nixon LLP. All of these steps taken by Brock Council were made in good faith and in the public interest. They were not, as has been suggested by the Region, illegal, passed in bad faith or contrary to public policy,” the letter read.

In late November, councillors voted to pass an interim control bylaw “to prohibit the establishment of Supportive Housing and Modular Construction, including Manufactured Dwelling Houses, for a period of twelve months, in order to allow for the appropriate completion of further research and consultation.”

“The purpose and effect of the By-law is to prohibit the establishment of Supportive Housing and Modular Construction developments, until the Township has the time to review whether the Zoning By-law adequately regulates the appropriate location, use, development standards, total number, and separation distances of such developments,” the letter stated. “The prohibition in the By-law applies to the establishment of any new Supportive Housing and Modular Construction development within the entirety of the Township of Brock, and does not target or single out any one group of persons. As a result, the Township of Brock does not intend to repeal Interim Control By-law 2994-2020.”

The letter then explained how implementing this interim control bylaw was just council doing its due diligence.

“When the Region could not explain, adequately, how the Project would be appropriately planned to reduce potential land-use conflicts, and instead took the position, the Project complied with the provisions of the Zoning By-law without further explanation, the Township was forced to enact the By-law to protect the public’s interest in a well-planned community.”

Through study of the project, Brock Township has found “the Region’s proposal would indeed contravene the provisions of the Zoning By-law.”

“While the Township has communicated its position to the Region that the Zoning By-law does not permit the establishment of the project, the Region has not provided a satisfactory explanation of how the project complies with the provisions of the Zoning By-law. In the absence of such an explanation, the Township was required, as it did, to enact the By-law to provide it with the necessary time to conduct a planning study and develop a series of best planning practices, to determine whether the Project satisfies the principles of good land-use planning,” Mr. Hustwick’s letter read.

The Township notes, the Region has made concessions of “a minor reduction of dwelling units,” but stated this does not “bring the project into compliance with the provisions of the Zoning By-law,” or “materially lessen the potential land-use conflicts the Project may create in the community of Beaverton.”

Despite the issue with the project, the letter concludes by stating, the township hopes to continue to grow and maintain their “excellent and collaborative working relationship” with the Region of Durham.

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