A plan that would see the Fruitland and Winona area grow by as much as 21,000 residents in the next 20 years has been postponed a little longer.

At a marathon meeting Tuesday that included emotional pleas from residents, the city’s planning committee voted to table the Fruitland-Winona Secondary plan — also known as Stoney Creek Urban Boundary Expansion (SCUBE) — until March.

In that time, Coun. Brenda Johnson of Ward 11 will work with residents to try to address some of the fears brought up by a crowd of about 200 at Tuesday’s meeting. Those fears includes population density, traffic and the location of parks and other amenities.

"This is an excellent opportunity for us,” Johnson said after the meeting. “We get another chance to try and resolve some issues that weren't working.”

The plan, which lays out where in the Winona area future development can occur, has been in the works for years. The city actually approved the SCUBE plan — complete with a public consultation process — in June. But shortly after that, the province approved the city’s new Urban Hamilton Official Plan, which cancelled out the Fruitland-Winona one. Now council must go through the process and approve it again.

The community still has several worries. Among them: the character of the neighbourhood, the influx of traffic, and what impact buildings as high as four stories would have on tender fruit growers.

Those were among the concerns voiced in emotional speeches to the committee.

Marion Fazackerley worries about the future of her home. She lives on Barton Street in Stoney Creek in an area that is designated as institutional under the new plan. She worries that a local school board might eventually expropriate her land, even though staff assured the crowd that any expropriations would require a willing seller.

'Very concerned about the residents of this community'

The plan in general, which includes a density of 75 residents per hectare, is “absolutely irresponsible,” she said.

“I’m very concerned about the residents of this community and myself,” she said.

But Giovanna Simone, a grape grower who has lived in the area for 42 years, wants the city to get on with it.

“I just want to know when they’re going to finish,” she said. “It’s been appealed and appealed and appealed. What they’re doing, I don’t know anymore.”

Simone has accepted the population growth. Her crop is 10 per cent of its former strength anyway because of the poor fruit market, she said.

“People have to live somewhere,” she said. “It’s no use.”

Future will be determined in an OMB challenge 

Whatever the city decides, the ultimate SCUBE plan will likely be determined at the Ontario Municipal Board, said Coun. Chad Collins. About 16 residents and organizations appealed the plan in June.

“Whatever changes we make, this plan will still go to the OMB,” he said. “But if there’s an opportunity to meet people halfway, let’s do it.”

The city needs to make a decision though, he said. For Hamilton to keep growing, developers need land.

"We need to have so much in our inventory in terms of developable land to compete with the Oakvilles and the Miltons and the Grimsbies who are offering that kind of housing stock," he said. 

"If we want to see the kind of development we've seen continue over the next number of years, we need something to be able to sell to get people to move to Hamilton."