UTRCA Reaches Agreement with PenEquity, Avoids Ontario Municipal Board Hearing

London, Ontario, Canada / (CFPL AM) AM 980

Almost a year after receiving conditional approval from London City Council, a controversial retail development in south London has now struck an agreement with the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority.

Details surrounding the compromise between PenEquity and the UTRCA will be revealed during a presentation to the Ontario Municipal Board on Thursday, thus avoiding a long and drawn out hearing.

The Toronto-based developer wants to build a sprawling entertainment and shopping plaza on a property south of the 401 next to Costco.

It would create up to 1,200 jobs, but would also require the clear cutting of at least 1,600 trees, along with the elimination of an existing wetland.

Last August, Council signed off on the rezoning PenEquity needed to build the new plaza, but the deal included a few compromises to the original rezoning approval. That included a promise to keep temporary protections on the land pending further environmental study.

It was also specified that for each tree removed, six new trees — which are not boulevard trees — would be planted.

While “seedlings and saplings” were initially offered by the developer, Council had demanded the motion include a promise of “natural heritage compensation” for the city.

A report prepared by consultants for PenEquity claims most of the trees they would be cutting down are elm and ash, which are prone to disease and infestation.

Even after reaching an agreement with the Conservation Authority, PenEquity must still resolve a number of other outstanding issues with the city’s legal and planning departments before construction can begin.

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