One resident calls it a “monstrosity”. Another describes it as a “looming eyesore”.
The criticisms are aimed at a proposed new retirement home in south Tyandaga.
Residents surrounding the intersection of Four Seasons Drive, Winterberry and Kerns Road have banded together under the name Tyandaga Community Coalition to oppose the development application. They are organized with over three-hundred members, an opposition web site, a letter writing campaign and protest signs on their lawns.
The developer, Fieldgate Properties. wants to demolish the nearby retail plaza at 1600 Kerns Road and replace it with a four-storey retirement home including 123 units and underground parking.
Residents are outraged.
“The current proposal is offensive and inappropriate” wrote Coalition leader Doug Stewart. He referred to the developer’s traffic study as: “deceitful and riddled with errors”.
A resident to the south wrote to City Hall complaining that, if approved, the development will “tower over our homes and destroy the character and charm”.
“We are opposed to a large retirement home that would increase traffic, tarnish the neighbourhood and have no contribution to the community. The current proposition is solely designed for the financial benefit of the property owner and with no regard for the community and its residents”, claims the Coalition web site.
The proposal was first presented to Tyandaga residents at a pre-consultation meeting in November 2019. At that time, it was 5-storeys, including retail space on the first floor. Over 200 people attended expressing a variety of concerns including; the height and scale of the building, potential traffic and parking problems, privacy matters and other issues.
Since then, there have been three additional “working group” meetings involving the developer, ward councillor, City staff and a group of residents. There was some progress. The building was downsized from 5 to 4 storeys, by eliminating the retail space, more greenspace was offered and there was a reduction in the number of units and balconies. Unfortunately, the meetings seem to have ended on a sour note.
“The overall tone of the community was that they did not really want this development at all and it was determined then that no further meetings would be required”, reported Ward One Councillor Kelvin Galbraith.
The developer justifies the proposal, in part, by claiming that every neighbourhood needs a variety of housing options.
“By providing for retirement accommodation for older adults, the proposal allows residents to remain in the neighbourhood as their housing needs change”.
Fieldgate also claims that the existing retail plaza has failed and could be eliminated from the site. Residents, however, don’t want to lose the plaza and point out that it still boasts a number of tenants including a popular day-care centre and a bakery.
“Any suggestion that this plaza was, or is not well used and a highly valued community asset has no concept of this neighbourhood or commitment to how it functions. The negative comments have only been promoted by those with a vested interest in destroying it”, wrote Pamela Gowing in a letter to the City.
The fact is that the property and plaza have been up for sale for several years.
Fieldgate goes on to argue that the proposed retirement home complies with the Provincial Policy Statement on growth and offers a study to show that it will not harm the nearby creek.
“The proposed built form represents a significant improvement and provides for an attractive streetscape and creates a comfortable pedestrian environment. The majority of parking would be located underground resulting in an increase of landscaped area over the present site condition”.
Tyandaga residents remain opposed and have lit up facebook with their concerns.
The City is expected to host a Statutory public meeting about the proposal, which requires an amendment to the zoning by-law, sometime this fall.
The issue is sure to create some challenges for Mayor Marianne Meed Ward who, at one point, lived in the area.
This is the third time in recent years that the long stable Tyandaga community has rallied against intrusion and change. Residents around Westhaven Drive failed to stop the expansion of a nearby quarry, and others on Havendale Boulevard were unable to bring significant change to a controversial townhouse development.
By Rick Craven