The latest redevelopment proposal for Aldershot’s Plains Road corridor has been met with polite but worried response.
At a pre-application virtual public meeting this week, neighbours around the Downsview Plaza expressed concern that, if approved, the new development would create traffic problems, privacy issues and shadowing impacts.
Councillor Kelvin Galbraith recognized the anxiety. “It’s right in the heart of Aldershot….very important….it’s a sensitive subject”.
Coletara Developments is proposing to remove the current one-storey plaza buildings and replace them with two separate mid-rise buildings, one on each side of Downsview Drive.
The building on the west side would be eight-storeys high, but tiered down to two-storeys on the side adjacent to the condominiums at Lindley Common. The building on the east side would be eleven- storeys tiered down to nine-storeys adjacent to East Plains Church. Both buildings would have ground floor retail, six storey podiums, and underground parking. Behind the buildings, along Dowland Crescent would be stacked townhouses with surface parking. Both driveway entrances would be off Downsview. In total, the development proposes 484 apartment units, 96 townhouses and 12 commercial spaces.
The current height limit in this area is six-storeys meaning the developer would need amendments to the City’s Official Plan and Zoning Bylaw in order to proceed.
Several nearby residents objected to the height. One man pointed out that the two new buildings across the street from Downsview are lower.
“Eight, nine and eleven storeys at this location are absolutely, totally out of context with the whole neighbourhood and even the whole street. The building heights are absolutely unacceptable to the community”.
A resident from Lindley Common added to the objections.
“I do have concerns about the height of the condo complexes……considering that across the street, they’re four and six storeys…….we’re jumping to nine and eleven”.
The anticipated traffic impact also raised fears. The developer repeatedly advised that a full traffic study would be required by the City as part of any future application, but residents felt certain that there will be problems. One resident from Dowland Crescent predicted that a lot of the traffic would back up on Downsview and subsequently cut through his low-density residential area to the north.
“There’s going to be so much traffic at the corner that most of the traffic will try to exit out through the back way. Downsview tees into Dowland. You can go around and go out Enfield towards King Road….It’s going to be absolute chaos all day, every day”.
Another area of contention was worry that the tall buildings would shadow the neighbouring houses.
“I’m going to lose my privacy….those buildings, their shadow is going to cross the daylight on our property”.
A lot of references were also made to the quality and quantity of retail space on Plains Road. Coletara is proposing 12 retail units at the street level, but never confirmed the size of the units. Residents expressed concerns about the potential loss of the local day-care centre as well as the local restaurant.
Other worries included: affordability, the modern architecture, the loss of the plaza parking lots as public gathering places, and the danger of overflow parking on local streets.
The developer’s representatives emphasized that the meeting was being held to get residents’ feedback and that the comments would be considered before a final application was made. She added that the City’s Urban Design Panel will also be asked to comment.
The developer assured the public that nothing will happen quickly. “We’re not talking about months. We’re talking about years”.
There was no mention of the probable loss of the large evergreen tree that has served as the host for Aldershot’s annual Christmas Tree Lighting event.
By Rick Craven