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Aldershot development changes do not satisfy opponents

Residents on Aldershot’s Clearview and St. Matthew’s Avenues remain firmly opposed to an application for a new six storey apartment building in their neighbourhood.

Speaking to this week’s meeting of the City’s Planning Committee seven delegates repeatedly demanded that any new building be lower. The delegates were responding to a new proposal received from a new developer who has taken over the project but continues to propose six storeys.

Instead of one large six-storey building, Coletara Developments is now suggesting two smaller six storey buildings joined by a shared lobby. In a letter to the City, Coletara said the new proposal includes increased setbacks, more landscaping, reduced surface parking and the addition of a townhouse façade facing St. Matthew’s Avenue.

The delegates from the two west Aldershot streets were not buying it.

Roger MacDonald said: ““The developer has made some minor modifications that do not address the real concerns. Residents are very united that they do not want this large building.” He called the latest proposal “Intellectually dishonest”

Another resident, Dina Knight described the latest plan as “Pretty much the same. Not a significant difference”

“It’s too high” said Michael Burjaw who seemed to capture the overall tone of the delegations.

Other delegations repeated concerns about shadowing, privacy, traffic, pollution and other issues.

Mayor Meed Ward explained that the City has already turned down the original application and, as a result, the entire matter was appealed to the Local Planning Appeals Tribunal.  The City can no longer decide the matter. The Mayor assured the delegates however that their input would be used by the City when it gets to the appeal.  An LPAT hearing date has not been set.

The proposed development is located on Masonry Drive between Clearview and St. Matthew’s Avenues.

Coletara said it hoped the “revisions deliver an improved development concept and one that addresses concerns raised (earlier) by Planning staff.

The redevelopment of this site was first proposed in 2018 by LIV Developments. In January, 2019 the company formally applied to the City for official plan and zoning bylaw amendments to permit the construction of a 6 storey, 160 unit apartment building.

At a statutory public meeting in April community reaction was so negative that the developer offered a revised plan in May of 2019.

City staff recommended refusal of that revised plan in July, 2019 and City Council agreed, setting up the appeal.

Essentially, the original building proposal was rejected as being too large for the site. Staff analysis suggested that setbacks were too narrow, landscaping was insufficient, the building was too long and its architecture failed to provide a proper transition from nearby low-density residential homes. Although some terracing was provided in the revised plan, it was found to be insufficient.

According to the 2019 staff report: “the proposed building and site design do not represent a compatible transition to the existing established neighbourhood. Planning staff are therefore not satisfied that the built form, scale and profile of the development adequately addresses the context”.

Regardless of whether the focus is on the new proposal or the old plan, two factors continue to complicate the issue.

The site is located on Masonry Court, immediately opposite the Aldershot GO Station. Planning staff generally consider this site appropriate for some level of intensification. In fact, a significant high-density development is located nearby on the north side of Masonry Court. It includes two six storey buildings and is known as “Station West”.

Also, planning for the entire area is still under review. According to 2019 planning report: “the City’s Mobility Hub Study for the area has not been completed and therefore the development of this parcel at this time may affect the direction of future plans for the area”.

The 2019 staff report also concluded: “Residential intensification and increased building heights may be appropriate on this site, provided the building form can provide a compatible transition to the established neighbourhood to the south, east and west.”

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