With Spring beckoning around the corner, many of the estimated 150-170 landscapers located in rural Flamborough and Ancaster are anxiously awaiting a verdict from the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) that will determine their ‘zoning legality.’

Arguing that its hands were tied because of provincial regulations, Council adopted a new Rural Zoning ByLaw last year which included regulations that would not allow landscape companies in rural Hamilton. Thanks to the extraordinary efforts of Flamborough Councillors Judi Partridge and Robert Pasuta, existing rural landscapers were given the opportunity – provided certain criteria was met – to apply for an exemption. Over 60 landscapers applied for the exemption. That resulted in an objection filed with the OMB – the ‘supreme court’ of planning decisions in Ontario..

After a hearing late last year, proposed ‘Minutes of Settlement’ were considered by the OMB at a meeting earlier this month at the former Dundas town hall. Among other regulations, the settlement proposes that rural landscapers must have (a) a minimum size of five hectares (12+ acres); (b) must have a minimum of three hectares ‘farmed in agricultural products’; and, (c) be ‘clearly secondary to the main agricultural use.’

In very simple terms, it appears the proposed settlement will result in the following:

1. Because they have been approved in the past, 10 specifically-identified, existing rural landscapers will be allowed to continue at their present locations.

2. The OMB will soon rule on the 60+ landscapers who applied for an exemption under the Partridge/Pasuta initiative.

3. Existing rural landscapers who did not apply for the exemption (100+) will need to apply for rezoning – an onerous, expensive and lengthy option with no guarantees of the outcome.

4. Any new landscape companies that want to locate in rural Flamborough will need to meet the new rules.

As the ‘Voice of Business’ passionately committed to supporting the local economy,  the Flamborough Chamber of Commerce (FCC) is profoundly concerned about the potential impacts of the OMB decision. Stay tuned!!