If you’ve visited us, you know our neighbourhood is mainly comprised of condos and freehold residential houses, There’s not much else around here actually, and little that’s over three storeys. In fact, the whole area is only zoned for 3-storey residential and 4-storey apartment buildings.
So it came as a shock last week when we saw signs on the lamp posts announcing a public meeting about a planned 10-storey apartment building being proposed for the block that we can see out our bedroom window! Needless to say, we were on-hand to make sure our concerns were addressed. We needn’t have worried. There were plenty of our neighbours there, and they were just as riled up as we were.
We’re all well aware that urban intensification is here and it’s not going away. We can expect the city to approve taller buildings in the downtown core to allow for expanding populations. That’s fine. but it’s also important that any such development reflect the existing community. A 4- or 6-storey building would be plenty big enough for a space that’s currently occupied by two old houses.
The building design isn’t bad. It’s got an interesting shape to it (you can see it in the drawings) but the architect, who was at the meeting, has to realize that design doesn’t end at the walls. A building needs to be appropriate to the neighborhood, or else the whole aesthetic of the building is lost because it sticks out like a sore thumb. Unfortunately, it was clear from his answers to the crowd’s concerns that he doesn’t share this view.
The developer pushed the idea that this 10-storey building would be a wonderful addition to the community and it would employ all the latest “green” technology to become a bastion of how to do a building “right.” They’re saying it’s really a visionary project. It was the usual bollocks, and the assembled crowd was having none of it.
Many of our neighbours eloquently stated their objections, like concerns about additional car traffic, exacerbating an already woeful parking situation, the aesthetics of the building design, the shadow it would cast at various parts of the day – but clearly the biggest issue the crowd had was about the height of the building.
For his part, the developer scoffed at this, saying there are powers higher than the municipal government that are 150% behind this type of urban intensification. He said he has little doubt that they will be able to get approval for this size of a building. He came off as arrogant and suggested the community get on side with the project or risk not having any say in it at all.
But the community is clearly united in the belief that the city will never approve such a substantial re-zoning – more than double the current height. And more than one person swore they would fight the developer as long as possible.
It’s funny. Before we owned a property we never really felt a part of a community. But sitting in that meeting tonight sure made us feel like we’re part of something bigger. The developer must have felt like he had stepped into the lion’s den, but it feels like we haven’t even started to sharpen our teeth yet.
The next step is for the developer to make the application to city council. For our part, we’re planning to get more involved with our Community Association and to contact our Councillor to express our own concerns about this project.