Belleville city council has decided to not hire a lawyer to fight an appeal of its decision not to allow a company to develop a medical marijuana research facility in the city.
Toronto Capital, owner of the property at 250 Sidney Street, the former Nortel building, has appealed to the new Local Planning Appeal Tribunal regarding the city’s recent refusal to approve rezoning to allow the project.
Councillor Paul Carr said the problem was that the proposed facility operator was not in attendance to answer questions and deal with concerns.
Councillor Egerton Boyce, who tried to bring the issue back for reconsideration two weeks ago, said he was frustrated that it was coming back to council again.
Boyce said, “It bothers me as we are looking at spending money on lawyers for this issue.”
One of the difficulties of staff defending the decision before the Tribunal, without a lawyer, is that staff recommended council approve the rezoning in the first place and may be called to provide evidence in support of the application.
The bid to hire the lawyer fell on a 5 to 2 vote at city council Monday night.
Director of Engineering Rod Bovay told council that, under the new Tribunal, the city will have another chance to consider it since it is a less adversarial body than the former Ontario Municipal Board. Bovay said, “It will less involve lawyers and the cost will be much less.”
Councillor Carr said there is “no way the city should spend money on this file. It’s a mess.” He says the Tribunal gives the city another opportunity.
Councillor Mitch Panciuk said, “The city didn’t make a decision, it made a mistake” when it rejected the marijuana project in the first place. He noted the project offers 50 research type jobs.