On Friday, January 18th, there was an emergency Council meeting regarding the Unimin waterfront property.
At issue was an offer Unimin has received for the lands next to the Midland Marina from another aggregate company.
There was a motion put forward to put an “Interim Control By-Law” in place that would prevent the property from being sold until the Town could complete the Unimin Master Plan Study that was commissioned when the land was put up for sale.
This study is already underway and is scheduled to receive public input. The $70,000 cost of the study is non-recoverable.
The “Interim Control By-Law” was considered good planning practice according to our planner Wes Crown, and could have been reversed by Council at a later date.
One Councilor was on vacation and unable to vote on Friday, leaving eight to vote in total, including the Mayor. The result was a split/indecisive vote of 4-4.
This result clearly lacks majority direction on such an important matter, and given the stakes of the decision, is simply unacceptable.
This approximately 40 acre site with 3,300 feet of prime Georgian Bay shoreline has been occupied by Unimin for ~40 years, and many believe the unsightly nature of the aggregate pile has hampered development of the area.
This opportunity to make better use of the property may not arrive for another 20 years according to Mayor Gord McKay, and due to the strategic location of the Unimin lands, has the potential to impact the future prosperity of the Town on an unprecedented scale.
If we get this development right, it could usher in a new Golden Era for Midland.
We insist that Midland Council call another emergency council meeting to hold another vote to implement the Interim Control By-Law as per the Planning Act of Ontario, giving the community an opportunity to make a smart, long-term decision about the use of the Unimin property to maximize its potential for the benefit of everyone in the Town of Midland.
Mayor Gord McKay had this to say about the matter in his regular weekly email newsletter:
“This past Friday, your Council held a special meeting to deal with one matter – how to protect the interests of the people of Midland in developing the Unimin lands that dominate our waterfront. The Town had learned this past Wednesday that the Unimin U.S. parent had received an offer to purchase the Unimin lands and was set to make a decision this past Friday. The Town asked them for a bit more time to prepare our offer but that was denied.
Town staff realizing that we could quickly lose control of our waterfront development vision recommended that we use a standard planning tool called an Interim Control By-law. The by-law would “pause” the situation for up to one year. The pause would give us time to complete the $70,000 Unimin lands study that the Town has embarked upon (see Thursday below) and to prepare a considered offer for Unimin.
The by-law was defeated by a vote of four to four.
At this time the Unimin lands are zoned for industrial and vacant-land purposes. Another aggregate operator could now set up on the site without any re-zoning. If that occurs the ability of Midland to direct the development of its waterfront will be hobbled for the next 20 years.
This will be the “hot topic” for the coming week. If you have something to say, now is the time.”