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Tyandaga residents up in arms over retirement home development

Tyandaga residents up in arms over retirement home development

Once again provincial growth policies butt heads with neighbourhood concerns. Tyandaga residents have come out in force against a new residential development application they say will negatively impact their neighbourhood.

Delegates to a virtual statutory public meeting this week frequently referred to the proposed four-storey retirement home as a “monstrosity”.

Fourteen in-person delegates combined with 230 opposition e-mails and letters to oppose the proposal for the southwest corner of Kerns Road and Four Seasons Drive.

The final delegate seemed to sum up the community’s outrage.

“I want the voices of Tyandaga to be heard loud and clear……This huge monstrosity of a building destroys the community here in Tyandaga…..We feel we are being robbed of what belongs to us…..We can not build fences, we can not plant trees high enough or mature enough to completely hide, protect and shield our neighbourhood from being exposed and violated by this proposed development”.

FGL Kerns Inc. has applied to the City for a zoning change to permit construction of the retirement home at 1600 Kerns Road, property currently occupied by a small retail plaza. The proposed four-storey building would include 123 residential units and 66 parking spaces most of which would be underground.

The developer started discussions with the neighbourhood in late 2019 and followed up with a series of meetings with a representative group of residents. The meetings produced changes to the proposal including a reduction in the height from five to four-storeys as a result of the elimination of most of the retail space on the first floor.

It was not enough to satisfy the nearby residents who steadfastly opposed the development proposal from the beginning.

At this week’s meeting residents spoke in opposition to every aspect of the building including its height, parking plan, traffic impact, privacy intrusions, loss of current retail space and more.

The site of the proposed development

“What is being proposed right now has serious negative impacts on my property and on my neighbours. and should not be approved……It is massive. It’s huge and over-bearing. It’s out of context for Tyandaga”, said one neighbour who described herself as a planning lawyer working for another municipality.

A traffic expert working for the developer addressed the traffic concerns at the start of the meeting and claimed that: “Traffic is not projected to increase. In fact, it’s projected to drop by 50%”. The leader of the Tyandaga Community Coalition Doug Stewart immediately responded. “There’s many errors in the math. There’s many, many errors in this report and every error seems to support Fieldgate”. Other delegates commented that the traffic study is “absolutely ridiculous…..grossly flawed….. not credible and doesn’t pass the smell test.” City staff later said that they are still reviewing the traffic analysis but that the developer’s study methodology was “satisfactory”.

Other residents argued repeatedly that they are not opposed to the redevelopment of the aging retail plaza, but that any new development must follow the rules as set out in the City’s zoning bylaw and must protect as much retail space as possible. Concern over loss of the retail plaza was a frequent topic. “We want the entire ground floor to be commercial” said Mr. Stewart.

Residents living in the Tyandaga Mews townhouse complex to the south had specific concerns. The land slopes in their direction. Their homes would be below the new retirement home. One delegate worried   that part of the underground parking lot would be above ground and would face their homes. If the mechanical penthouse on the roof was also taken into consideration, the building would appear to be six-storeys high overlooking their homes and impacting their privacy. “We will live in a fishbowl”.

Most members of Council did not respond to what they heard, preferring instead to wait for a final staff report and recommendation which could take months. Three members however did comment that they shared the concerns about the loss of commercial space and the reduced parking proposed for the retirement home. By Rick Craven

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