Thunder Bay

Maplewood Estates development taxes might not pay for services; council to receive report

A controversial subdivision on Thunder Bay's south side needs some major infrastructure before it can be built out.

Third phase requires sewer extension to proceed

The builder of a proposed subdivision in Thunder Bay, Ont., says a sewer line will first need to be installed from the Parkdale subdivision to Mapleward Road. (Kate Porter/CBC)

A controversial subdivision on Thunder Bay's south side needs some major infrastructure before it can be built out.

Maplewood Estates, near Mapleward Road and Arthur Street West, was started nearly a decade ago. The area was developed by Nadin Contracting.

The original phase was controversial, not only because of its location, nearing the edge of the city limits, but because full services are not available in the area. City water though is piped into the neighbourhood.

"Essentially, planning at the time did not recommend approval, however, the matter was referred back to administration," said Decio Lopes, a senior planner with the city.

"There was a modification made at that time to the proposal, and planning moved ahead to support the recommendation with the current plan, on partial services."

The plan, Lopes said, was to have any further builds put onto full services. Therefore, homes built as part of phase two, as well as the portion with a holding symbol, a planning term for a potential future building subdivision, would need a sewer connection.

Provincial appeal

The province appealed the city's decision to approve the subdivision, Lopes said, and while he could not speak to the actual appeal, he said the end result had a subdivision built, with conditions made for sewer services.

Homes built in phase two aren't connected to the city sewer, although underground infrastructure is in place, and homes would have to get connected to the "stub", Lopes said.

Discussion on the next phase of building was brought up in late May, when Nadin Contracting, the developer, told city council it wanted to build a sewer line running from Parkdale or the Canadian Tire on Arthur Street, to its subdivision on Mapleward Road.

The deputation caught some on council by surprise. No planning applications have been submitted to the city to move the subdivision forward.

"I mean, honest to God, this is why we have planning," said Laura Taylor, an associate professor in the Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change at York University.

"So that you have efficiency, you don't waste resources. So, the planners are saying no, and then the councillors are saying, well, you know,"

"But that's not based on what makes the most sense." 

Septic first, sewer later unheard of

Taylor said she had not heard of, until the Maplewood Estates example, where a subdivision would be approved on partial city services, but sewer hookups would be provided at a later date.

Taylor cautions development in rural areas, or without full services, just on the promise of additional taxes being added to city coffers.

"From a council's perspective, they do see those additional units and that additional residences means greater taxes, and municipalities are funded by property taxes, so you can't really blame them."

However, city councillors have suggested the taxation of the new subdivision may not offset the overall cost of maintaining the new area, or providing it with ongoing city services.

The planning division will report back to council by the end of the year on the feasibility of the proposed 350-lot subdivision.

The city has nearly a two-year supply of building lots available, the planning division told CBC News, and has a ten-year supply that are in draft plan of subdivision.

The developer, Nadin Construction, said its initial sale of both phases of Maplewood Estates showed there is demand for larger rural-type lots, even if not all city services are offered.

"They always seem to base everything on other subdivisions," said Norm Nadin, a co-owner of Nadin Construction.

"You know, the proof is in the pudding. We put our subdivisions together. We sell them, and they sell instantly."


Jeff Walters

Former CBC reporter

Born and raised in Thunder Bay, Jeff worked in his hometown, as well as throughout northwestern Ontario.