Guelph Neighbourhood Group Making Last Push Against Townhouse Proposal

  • 09/7/18
  • |          Guelph

Association maintains position that the 23-townhouse development is too big for the area

On Monday, city council is being asked to determine the fate of five different residential development applications — and at least one community group is taking one last opportunity to get councillors on their side.

It was the summer of 2017 that residents first learned that the site of the former Optimist Club on Beechwood Avenue could become the site of a new townhouse development from Granite Homes.

Situated across the road from single-storey bungalows, the 34 townhouses would sit three storeys tall, and be situated right next to Howitt Park.

Since then, the project has come before city council for an official public meeting and it has been downsized, with the current proposal comprising of fewer units (down to 23) and fewer storeys (seven of the townhouses would be two storeys tall).

Byron Cunningham, a co-chair with the Beechwood Chadwick Hearn Neighbourhood Association, says the group met with Granite this past June, after the downsized proposal had been submitted to the city.

Cunningham says rather than listening to the group’s concerns, Granite just came to say that what the developer was proposing for the property was the final submission — no other changes would be made.

“It was, ‘no, no, no, this is the submission,’” he says.

Mike Taylor, Granite Home’s vice-president of multi-residential, challenged this assertion, saying the developer has been taking notes and suggestions from the neighbourhood group throughout the whole process.

“We reduced our original project by 32 per cent,” he says, referring to the downsizing of the proposed development.

“We’ve been taking their feedback all along. We’ve had meetings dating back to last year.”

Echoing comments from the neighbourhood group in the past, Cunningham says the group is not against developing the site. Instead, he says the project should better reflect the size and character of the neighbourhood.

Sheila Hollidge, another member of the neighbourhood association, told the Mercury Tribune in May that the city should be looking to OPA 48, the amendment to the city’s official plan that establishes population densities and land uses for the city.

Under the guidelines laid out in OPA 48, there would only be six to 14 units permitted on the property.

However, according to the staff report to council recommending the project’s approval, because the proposal was submitted before OPA 48 and its associated changes came into effect, the proposal would be processed under the old rules.

With the revised application in May, Granite was no longer requesting a bylaw variance for property density, as the 23 townhouses would fit within the bylaws for the property.

Cunningham says should council vote to approve the project as it stands, the neighbourhood group has not ruled out further action, including an appeal to the province’s Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (the new name of the former Ontario Municipal Board).

However, Cunningham says he and the group will wait to see what council says first before going ahead with other plans.

“The option is on the table.”

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