Here is the excellent press coverage of and commentary on the OMB hearing from Kerry Thompson and Scott Tracey of the Guelph Mercury.
(You really should subscribe; coverage has been really good, lately.)
Wal-Mart good fit in north end, OMB told
KERRY THOMPSON, Guelph Mercury
GUELPH (Aug 4, 2004)
Significant commercial and industrial development surrounds the site where Wal-Mart wants to build its first Guelph store, a planner for the developer told an Ontario Municipal Board hearing yesterday.
"Virtually every type of land use exists in the vicinity of the site," Peter Smith told the hearing at City Hall, which got underway yesterday after more than six years of preliminary hearings and delays.
Wal-Mart wants to set up shop at the northwest corner of the Woodlawn Road and Woolwich Street intersection.
"There's commercial development along both Woodlawn and Woolwich in the vicinity" of the site, Smith said. A large strip mall anchored by Canadian Tire on the northeast corner of that intersection is one example.
Residents for Sustainable Development, the last official party opposing the plan, has argued for years the development is not compatible with the area that includes the Ignatius Jesuit Centre to the north. The Jesuit centre is also opposing the Wal-Mart application.
Smith also told board member Bob Boxma that noise from the Imperial Tobacco plant on Woodlawn can be heard at the Jesuit centre on Highway 6.
Imperial Tobacco "abuts the (Marymount Cemetery) and a small portion of the Jesuit centre," he said. "That noise, I think, has been audible almost every time I've been out there" at the Jesuit site.
Lawyers had to manoeuvre around boxes of documents representing nearly a decade of information on the case yesterday, and maps of the site lined one wall.
Nine days have been set aside for the hearing, but it may be completed sooner.
The case began when the council of the day turned down an application from 6 & 7 Developments to build a Wal-Mart at the corner of Woodlawn Road and Woolwich Street in 1997. Since then, different councils have changed their position on the matter, with the latest reversal coming in May, when council voted 10 to 3 to support revised plans for a 135,000-square-foot store at Woodlawn and Woolwich.
The development requires both Official Plan and zoning bylaw amendments.
An application for a Zellers on University of Guelph land on Stone Road was also turned down by council in 1997 and was to be part of the main hearing. The residents' group withdrew its opposition to the Zellers plan in June, however, so it could focus on the Wal-Mart fight.
Site plans for the Zellers development are currently before the city.
While the residents' group has argued the majority of new growth in the city is occurring in the south, east and west ends, Smith told the hearing yesterday there are municipal services available in the north end which make the Wal-Mart development viable.
"This is an existing built-up area of the city that has municipal services to it," he said, referring to a portion of the city's Official Plan that states one of its goals as directing development to areas of the city where municipal services are most available.
The hearing continues today.