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A doctor, who has been in Aldershot for decades, says he will leave the community rather than live with a proposed development adjacent to his practice, but Dr. William Simmons’ threat did not change the opinions of his elected representatives.

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward and Councillor Kelvin Galbraith generally support the new development.

The comments came during a Statutory Planning Committee meeting this week to discuss Corley Developments proposed new apartment building on the south side of Plains Road East near Filmandale Avenue.

Dr. Simmons wrote to the Committee claiming that, if approved, the development will negatively affect the well-being of his patients.

“I am concerned about the implications for excessive motor vehicle traffic (on Plains Road)…..This will lead to added travel stress for vulnerable individuals……As a consequence, I am listing my office for sale and planning on moving to a rental location in a more serene setting”.

The site today

Although Meed Ward said she hoped to see changes to the proposal that would increase apartment unit sizes and improve tree protection, otherwise she liked what she saw.

“I think there’s some really good elements here. I think there’s a lot of good stuff. I think with a little more attention to some of those points, we could have a really good development”.

Galbraith shared some of the Mayor’s observations and added that he too is generally supportive.

“I think the building works well. It’s consistent with a similar building just a block over. It’s consistent with other buildings on Plains Road”.

Corley needs amendments to both the Official Plan and Zoning Bylaw in order to construct the new building. The six-storey structure would have 117 units with underground and surface parking totaling 147 spaces. The driveway access would be on the east side of the building within a couple of metres of Dr. Simmons property.

The meeting was not scheduled to make any decisions. The purpose was to hear from the public. Staff will now consider the proposal, including public feedback, and make a recommendation to City Council. The developer still has the option to revise his plan or launch an appeal to the Province.

Dr. Simmons was not the only nearby resident complaining about the proposal. Dr. Colin Wellum, whose office is on the other side of the proposed building, expressed concern about the lack of up-to-date infrastructure in Aldershot necessary to accommodate new buildings. He accused the politicians of failing to respect Aldershot’s past. “To allow the proposed development is a breach of trust”.

One resident, who lives on Merle Avenue to the south, wrote to the Committee about the need to protect her trees. She reported that the 16 tall Norway Spruce trees in her backyard serve as a noise barrier and privacy screen, creating an oasis in the City. The developer’s arborists’ report suggests the trees may have to be sacrificed. The same resident later spoke to the Committee pleading her case. “I beg the Council, please do not allow my trees to be taken from me”.

The developer’s representative referred to the trees as “shared” but promised to discuss the matter further.

“The current plan is to remove those trees and plant new trees on our side that would grow over time, but we do acknowledge that it is probably best to maintain those trees. What we’re going to do is reach out to that neighbour. We are committed to working with the neighbours. We’re not trying to push anything down the neighbour’s throat”.

Long-time community advocate Tom Muir implied that the politicians and City planners were not handling the file with enough care. He cited a variety of planning policies and technicalities concluding that the proposed building fails to comply with the official plan.

“The application build appears to be a very tight fit on the lot, and an intrusive coverage, height, scale and massing, lacking integration and a transition with existing buildings and the residential neighbourhood to the south”.

Several others sent letters to the Committee also condemning the building proposal. One person commented; “Just a note to let you know about my family’s extreme disappointment”. Another resident worried about traffic volume in Aldershot. “This proposed development will only add to the problem”. Another wrote that “the proposed redevelopment is incompatible with adjacent land uses”.

The developer’s representative reminded those attending the meeting that Plains Road has been identified as a secondary growth area and an intensification corridor.

In April of 2021 the developer floated an initial proposal for a nine-storey building on the site, but subsequently withdrew it in the face of public opposition. The new six-storey proposal remains quite similar in design.

By Rick Craven

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