Guelph Wal-Mart OMB hearing finally ends

Friday, October 22, 2004

More than seven years after its first pre-hearing conference, the Ontario Municipal Board hearing into a proposed Wal-mart in Guelph's north end finally ended today.

"You have presented me with probably the biggest challenge of my life," said OMB chair Bob Boxma as the hearing came to end.

Today was the third day of argument from lawyers representing the developer, 6&7 Developments, the City and Residents for Sustainable Development in Guelph (RSD), which opposes the project. The evidence was presented back in August, after which the hearing was adjourned to allow lawyers more time to respond to case law from RSD which suggested the Charter of Rights and Freedoms (freedom of religion) should be considered in this case, because of the unique nature of the proposed Wal-mart site between two cemeteries and the Ignatius Jesuit Centre.

The OMB reserved its decision.

RSD spokesman Ben Bennett said he doesn't expect a decision for several weeks.

"They have a lot to think about," he said.

Bennett said he fully expects there will be an appeal, whoever wins, "but it will depend on the wording of the decision."

"Let's just say I'm not putting my files into long-term storage just yet."

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