Bonobo's Foods to keep restaurant on Oliver Rd.

Customers and neighbours of Bonobo's Foods in Thunder Bay, Ont., proved their patience on Monday night, after waiting over four hours to make their case to city council.

Other planning matters included LPH Greenspace, Official Plan

Bonobo's Foods in Thunder Bay, Ont., will be allowed to maintain its restaurant after a rezoning by Thunder Bay city council on Monday night. (Kris Ketonen/CBC)

Customers and neighbours of Bonobo's Foods in Thunder Bay, Ont., proved their patience on Monday night, after waiting over four hours to make their case to city council.

The north side food store, and now eatery, was the subject of a zoning change, to allow a restaurant as part of the food store. 

In the fall, the business appeared before council for a rezoning, as it was not permitted to operate the 30+ seat restaurant at the Oliver Road and Ray Boulevard location. Neighbours had complained to the city about a lack of parking in the area, as well as safety concerns with numerous cars parked on the residential street.

"Tonight, neighbours aren't getting along. Hopefully in the course of time, things will die down," said Coun. Paul Pugh, just before the matter was approved by council.

Bonobo's will have to make some changes to its property to comply with city regulations. One is to landscape its property, another is to create eight parking spaces, and the last is a requirement to lease a portion of a boulevard from the city to help create the eight spaces.

Administration said ideally, the restaurant would be located in another spot, because if it were only a restaurant, it would require 20 parking spaces. However, the building is designated, and used as mixed-use, therefore requiring eight spaces.

"Well we've been dealing with it for such a long time now that it's definitely a good thing that it's been resolved," said Morgan Zimmer, who manages Bonobo's. She will assume control of the business next year, she said.

"If it did not go the right way, we would have had the very scary potential of shutting down, because without the tables the business just wouldn't be viable."

Council approved the zoning change - which incidentally - was the same proposal made to the business and neighbours in the fall.

Pugh said after numerous meetings with the city, he's hopeful the neighbours, and business can move forward.

"Partly, because the owners are taking responsibility to move themselves and the staff away from the area, and partly because there will be more parking, legal parking."

Official plan

City council spent four hours discussing, and ultimately approving the new official plan.

One major change was where the urban boundary was set, essentially setting where urban development will take place within the city. Some planning experts said they wanted to see more rural lots created with the plan, to meet the demand. 

Leslie McEachern, the city's Director of Planning told council the goal was to create infill development, and not more rural lots. Council has come under fire for approving developments outside of the urban boundary.

Silvio DiGregorio, a developer, proposed the city track the number of available building lots on each side of the city, independently of the total number of lots available.

DiGregorio said there is still Port Arthur/Fort William divide when it comes to where people want to live.

"Residents of the city have a definite bias toward living in either the north ward or the south ward," he said. He noted that although the city may have enough building lots available, it needs to keep a north-south balance in mind.

The Friends of the LPH Greenspace also walked away from the official plan meeting satisfied, after the lands near Boulevard Lake were deemed to be for community use. It means the north portion of the undeveloped area will remain a greenspace, while still allowing the province, or another owner to re-develop the LPH site.

The official plan update took nearly a decade to create, and guides development in Thunder Bay.

About the Author

Jeff Walters

Reporter/Editor

Born and raised in Thunder Bay, Jeff is proud to work in his hometown, as well as throughout northwestern Ontario. Away from work, you can find him skiing (on water or snow), curling, out at the lake or flying.

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