Planned subdivision for former railroad land in central St. Catharines

St. Catharines City Council has given the go-ahead for a 61-unit development on a former railway right-of-way off Vine Street South.

The strip of property south of Yale Crescent was designated in the city’s official plan as a park and open space, but council heard the city never intended to turn it into a park.

Planning and Building Services director Tami Kitay said the original rationale for the designation was to ensure the land could serve as a connection to future trails – a goal that can still be achieved with a two-metre sidewalk along the along Yale Crescent.

“None of the city park master plans ever identified an actual park in this area, it was only for a trail connection,” she said.

The 1.07 hectare property at 60 Vine St. S. is south of Yale Crescent between Vine and Berryman Avenue. It is surrounded by businesses including a construction equipment supplier, residences, Connaught Public School, and an active Gio Rail.

The land was a former railway right of way used to transport goods for industrial purposes in the area. It is no longer used for railway activity. A section of track on the property will be removed.

A staff report indicates that environmental assessments and remediation works are ongoing and that a building permit will not be issued until a record of site condition cleared by the Department of Environment, Conservation and Parks will not be submitted.

Kitay said council’s approval would not set a precedent for other green spaces to be turned into residential land, adding: “Each application is considered and assessed on its own merits.”

Council approved the official plan and zoning by-law amendments to convert the land to medium-density residences to allow for the development of a two-story triplex and 10 two-story apartment buildings.

The buildings will resemble 11 blocks of two-story townhouses, but will be divided vertically and horizontally, with 36 units on the ground floor and 25 units on the upper floors. Each block will have three to eight units.

The site will have 81 parking spaces spread over four zones and bicycle parking.

Plaintiff Tim Kenny told council the price range would be in the lower 25% of new home sales prices in St. Catharines and the units would be part of a condominium association.

A public information session with detailed site designs will be held by city staff as part of the site plan process.

Mayor Walter Sendzik said it was an “innovative” project to bring housing to the community.

“Seems like a good adaptive reuse of space that will also clean up land adjacent to a primary school.”

The motion passed by council included a directive from Merritton County. Lori Littleton, who noted that residents have raised the issue of Berryman Avenue being closed to through traffic in that area due to traffic issues.

She requested that staff be directed to review the need and feasibility of closing Berryman Avenue to through traffic at a point between Richmond Avenue and Yale Crescent, in accordance with the appropriate consultation process and provincial legislation.

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