As many of our supporters will be aware, the Marotta group has elected to open up yet another litigation front with the Town over the Rand Estate.
To review the sequence of events, the Marotta group filed an application for a subdivision on the back half of the Rand Estate with the Town in 2020. That application was eventually deemed complete by the Town in the spring of 2021.
Last summer, the Town held an open house and then a public meeting concerning the proposal. Dozens of residents and local stakeholders spoke up at the time expressing numerous concerns and hundreds more watched the proceedings. SORE’s expert team presented a detailed submission at the public meeting outlining a number of serious issues with the proposal. The SORE input was specifically noted as extremely helpful by Council at the time.
Recognizing the variety and magnitude of the issues concerning the proposal, the Marotta group indicated it would reconsider the proposal and bring it back to the Town and the public. In the interim, SORE commissioned its own expert team to come up with a viable approach to residential use of the back half of the Rand Estate. The SORE proposal respected and honoured the myriad of heritage attributes of Randwood and set out how approximately 75 residences compatible with both the Estate and the surrounding neighbourhoods could be established. We received no comment or feedback from the Marotta group on the SORE proposal.
The Marotta group’s revised proposal was recently brought back to the Town. However, instead of seeking the Town’s and public input, the Marotta group has elected to litigate the matter by appealing a “non-decision” by the Town to the Ontario Land Tribunal (the successor to LPAT/OMB). By our count, this is the fourth separate piece of litigation initiated by the Marotta group concerning the Rand, not including the ongoing prosecution launched by the Town for the outrageous 2018 clear-cutting of a vast swath of the Rand Estate.
SORE’s experts are in the process of reviewing the revised proposal, which now calls for 172 residences on the back half of the Estate, compared to 191 in the 2020 proposal. We note that the underground stormwater management facility, which SORE’s experts were highly critical of, has now been replaced by an above-ground pond. This is an improvement, which we acknowledge.
Of enormous concern, however, it appears that the pretty well none of the many heritage attributes of Randwood are conserved under the revised Marotta proposal. This may explain why no updated Heritage Impact Assessment report was filed with the Town/OLT in support of the revised proposal. We also note that the revised proposal continues to contemplate a full and main access road for the proposed Marotta subdivision from John Street up the 200 John Street stem, notwithstanding the clear assessment of both the Town’s and SORE’s experts that such an access is simply not feasible due to major heritage constraints. Finally, the Marotta proposal simply ignores the other two Rand Estate parcels at 144 and 176 John, the site of the Marotta hotel and convention facility proposal, which is currently on hold.
SORE will of course be seeking party status at the OLT hearing on this matter, which we expect may be later this year or early next year. We have asked for the Marotta group’s consent to SORE being a party, as it has been for every other proceeding. Should that consent not be forthcoming, we will once again have to seek party status in a contested application. We hope this will not be necessary.
SORE is deeply disappointed in the complete lack of reaction by the Marotta group to its design proposal. We believe we had established a good faith basis on which residential development could occur at Randwood while respecting this unique and invaluable part of the cultural heritage of NOTL and the Niagara Region. Instead, the Marotta group seeks to obliterate that heritage so that it can place another hundred residences on what is surely the least appropriate site in NOTL for a densely packed subdivision. All part of Mr. Marotta’s ongoing quest to “make NOTL more beautiful”.
We will have more to report in due course.
We thank you for your continued support.