Cambridge council clears the way for controversial development in Blair

A controversial development in the Village of Blair was again the focus of Cambridge city council on Tuesday night.

At the meeting, council approved a motion to accept two studies related to the proposed warehouse, by a vote of 6-2.

"It means that this development can now go ahead," Mayor Kathryn McGarry told CTV News.

Councillors Mike Mann and Shannon Adshade brought forward a motion to accept a heritage impact study and a traffic study. They asked council to reconsider a decision in March to not approve the studies.

"I only considered one view," Mann explained.

Both councillors said calls in favour of the project grew louder since council voted against it.

"After the original vote, when it was defeated 5-4, I heard a lot from the community," Adshade said. "I got a lot of personal emails and phone calls from the broader community that really supported the development."

"I could be out anywhere and people would say: 'What’s going on? Why are we not supporting this?'" said Mann. "My comment was: 'Why weren't you there at the delegation night when this came forward?"

He added that both residents and business owners in Cambridge told him "they thought there wasn’t a need to come forward because they thought it was going to go through anyhow."

Jan Liggett and Nicholas Ermeta were the only councillors who voted against the motion.

Since March, the developer of the land – Broccolini - filed an appeal to the Ontario Land Tribunal.

"If it went to the OLT we might have lost those two major modifications," Adshade said, in reference to the external living wall and capacity on truck traffic which council had negotiated with the developer.

Coun. Liggett was not convinced the modifications would have been lost.

She said the entire topic took her by surprise during Tuesday’s meeting as it wasn't on the agenda.

"Last night was another example where the public was never given the courtesy, nor was the balance of council given the courtesy or respect from their colleagues that this was coming forward," Liggett said.

During the virtual meeting Tuesday night, council voted to waive a notice of motion on the topic which would have informed the public that it was going to be discussed.

At the meeting, Liggett commented on the notice of motion, which she and Ermeta voted against.

"It looks to me, and its going to look to the public, that we are trying to circumvent public consultation and they are going to be right on that. When we have councillors who didn’t even know this was going to come forward, how do you think the public feels?"

On Wednesday, Liggett told CTV News: "There was no need for it be done in such a sudden matter. We had all the time in the world. If this was going to the OLT, a hearing date hasn’t even been set."

Mayor McGarry responded to concerns residents may be upset that the notice of motion was waived.

"This is a tool that any councillor can bring forward at any time and we followed all due process and procedure and procedural by-laws in order to bring a notice of re-consideration forward."

"This site is zoned industrial. It will be developed one way or another,” she continued.