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A development proposal, which may lead to construction of the tallest building in Aldershot, moved one more step through the planning process this week, but not without some resistance.

Infinity Development Group’s application to build a 29-storey residential tower, on the east side of Waterdown Road just north of Plains, was presented at this week’s Planning Committee meeting. Members of Council heard community input and offered their initial comments. No decisions were expected or made.

Infinity filed its application on December 17, 2021 for Official Plan and Zoning Bylaw amendments to permit the building. Under the rules set out by the Province Burlington has 120 days to make a decision. The deadline is April 16, 2022 following which the developer may go directly to the Ontario Land Tribunal for a decision.

At least one delegate at this week’s meeting accused the developer of simply going through the motions at City Hall with the real aim of getting past the City’s review and on to the Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT), which some people believe tends to favour developers.

Local advocate Tom Muir told the public meeting that the proposed building is “egregiously excessive” and, along with others from the same developer, are “not reasonable, good faith proposals aimed at getting City planning buy in…….the applicants are ready to take this to the OLT”.

The application and the timing are complicated by the fact that the City has not fully completed its planning for the neighbourhood around the GO Station, known as a Major Transit Station Area (MTSA). In fact, when Burlington’s Urban Design Advisory Panel reviewed the 29-storey proposal it urged caution.

“Until the Aldershot MTSA Area Plan is finalized and the structural elements of the area are established the proposal is considered premature because the planned context and character of the area is still being planned”.

It is this fact, among others, that could delay decision making by the City in time to meet the April deadline, thereby opening the door to an appeal to OLT.

Another resident, Ron Porter offered a highly detailed and well researched analysis of the proposal concluding that “this is a beautiful building… just shouldn’t be there”. He noted concerns related to height, setbacks, amenity space and parking.

The proposal includes a small retail outlet on the first floor. Even the developer’s representative David Faletta admitted that it would not meet local shopping expectations. “Given the width of Waterdown Road and the lack of ability to cross the street it isn’t ideal for having that ground floor commercial or employment use”.

Knowing that west Aldershot residents have been pleading for more and better shopping opportunities for years, Mayor Marianne Meed Ward picked up on the comment.

“I do have some real concerns about what we’ve seen in this application…..I don’t buy the argument at all from the applicant that there shouldn’t be retail because Waterdown is a wide road. I don’t know what that has to do with anything. So is Plains Road and it is lined with beautiful shops….We’re building complete communities here not just tall buildings.”

Infinity’s 29 storey building would have 295 residential units, a 4-store podium including a parking structure, with an overall height of 107 metres. It fails to meet a variety of the City’s existing or proposed standards.

Aldershot Councillor Kelvin Galbraith was excused from the meeting. He had declared a conflict of interest because his home and his business are in the same neighbourhood.

By Rick Craven

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