High-density zoning change resisted

Oakridge Boulevard resident Bill Gibson. DON RICKERS PHOTO

Neighbours on Canboro Road say 14-unit building too big

Special to the VOICE

Town Council’s gallery was packed last Tuesday night as an application for a by-law amendment was met by strong opposition from local residents.

The applicant, DeHann Homes, owns a development it’s named “Canboro Place” at 190 Canboro Road, on the south side of Canboro west of Oakridge Boulevard, and is seeking approval to amend the zoning by-law from “Residential 1” to “Residential Multiple 1.”

This change would allow a block townhouse with 14 units to be built in an area which is dominated by detached, single family bungalows.

Barbara Weins, Director of Planning and Development, indicated that local and regional planning and by-law departments had no objections to the development, nor did the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority or fire services.

Speaking for the residents, Bill Gibson, of Oakridge Boulevard, said “this development, with its two-story height and high-density footprint, will alter the single residential nature of our graceful neighbourhood and deprive us of our privacy and pleasant views. It will significantly degrade the value and enjoyment of our backyard experience.”

The backyards of all the properties on Oakridge are 12 to 60 inches lower than the existing grade of the proposed development property, in an area where flooding, due to sandy soil, is always a concern, said Gibson.

In his detailed presentation, Gibson, who holds a degree in industrial design and worked 36 years in various government agencies, indicated that the project, in its current form, would deprive current residents of privacy, restrict sunlight from backyards, create flooding issues, prevent the prevailing west winds from entering and cooling the yards, and create a negative lee, which would cause denser snow loads on their properties.

Additionally, noted Gibson, local wildlife in the area would be diminished, and parking issues and light pollution would be created by the high-density development.

“I am against the development of this property as proposed,” said Gibson. “I do not have confidence that the well-being of the neighbours and our community rights will be taken into account during construction.”

If the project is allowed to go forward, Gibson suggested that a committee composed of three local residents, a by-law enforcement officer, and the developer meet bi-weekly until the project is completed, to review construction activities and mitigate disruption and inconvenience to the surrounding neighbourhood.

Further, Gibson remarked that if the project is allowed to proceed, he would like existing homeowners in the area to be given a variance so that they can erect higher fences in an attempt to preserve their backyard privacy.

Gibson noted that he tried to contact the developer in the past regarding the deteriorating state of the property, with construction debris and machinery littering the site, but received no response. The property was cleaned up only after the developer received a by-law compliance order from the town.

Another resident, Nora Peat, who has lived adjacent the property since 1953, agreed with Gibson’s assessment of the drainage issue being problematic. She, like Gibson and other residents, is not opposed to the property being developed, but wants to see lower density, lower-height units built.

“Fourteen condo units is excessive,” she said.

Charles Garner and his wife live on Oakridge, having moved recently from Brampton. Mr. Garner noted that they liked the “picturesque aesthetics of Fonthill,” and did not expect high-density development in their backyard.

Representing the developer at the meeting was Craig Rohe of Upper Canada Consultants. He pointed out the density of the proposed development falls within the Town’s official plan (10 to 20 units of housing per hectare), and that the unit size of approximately 1,700 square feet is comparable to other local projects.

Rohe commented that the developer wants to “uphold the character of Canboro Road.”

Engineer Jason Schooley, also with UCC, said that the project includes swales along the property perimeter to collect water into an enclosed storm sewer chamber, which would discharge at the same rate it is currently flowing off the property.

Mayor Dave Augustyn thanked the residents for their input, and stressed that there would be no decisions made that night. A report will be produced based on the evening’s discussion, summarizing the public’s comments and concerns.

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