The City of Kenora has decided to not appeal a decision made by Ontario’s Land Tribunal that has stopped the development of Central Park in its tracks.

This means, for the time being, Central Park will remain a public space without a housing development.

Councillors made their decision at their August 9 Council Meeting at City Hall after the city’s Senior Leadership Team and staff recommended against appealing the decision, following discussions with the municipality’s legal team.

This meant that councillors were forced to repeal Zoning Bylaw #34-2021 during August 9’s meeting. There was no discussion surrounding the vote to remove the bylaw, which was unanimously approved.

On June 28, the Tribunal ruled in favour of Kenora resident Dawn Mitchell and her team, saying the City of Kenora violated proper procedures when they first rezoned Central Park last year.

In March of 2021, Kenora city councillors unanimously voted in favour of rezoning the open space to a residential space as the city had plans to develop the western half of central into housing units, with the ball diamond, community club, rinks, a playground and green spaces on the eastern half.

Mitchell filed her appeal with Ontario’s Land Tribunal later that month, protesting the move on the grounds that the city was violating parkland requirements and for the potential development’s compatibility with nearby railyards, despite a residential neighbourhood in the same area.

The Tribunal found the city was in already need of more open spaces to provide healthy, active communities, and despite a need for more housing in the city, members argued public spaces are equally as valuable.

The Tribunal also found that the city did not complete an appropriate noise study before their rezoning amendment, which was required as the development would have been within 100 metres of the Canadian Pacific Railway and the city’s Official Plan does not permit developments within 300 m.

The city, meanwhile, argued the neighbourhood has co-existed with the railyard for over 100 years without incident and a noise study would have been completed at a later date, but those reasons were not sufficient for the Tribunal, who ruled the rezoning amendment be repealed.

A developer for the potential housing project was never found by the city.

Of note, plans for the eastern half of Central and the new Community Club are still moving forward.

The project, currently underway, includes two new rinks with new boards, a new playground, beach volleyball areas, a bocce ball area, and the new Central Community Club after the original was torn down in 2018. The project is aiming to be completed by the winter of 2022-2023.


Mitchell currently has a GoFundMe campaign available to help recover costs related to her legal fees. She’s estimated she’s paid over $6,000 out of her own pocket. As it stands, her fundraiser has reached just over $4,000. You can find the link to donate HERE.