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Eagle Place residents unhappy with development proposal

Local NewsEagle Place residents unhappy with development proposal

Just over 60 Eagle Place residents attended a public neighbourhood meeting regarding a zoning by-law amendment for 264 Erie Avenue on Tuesday, November 21, 2023.

The property in question was purchased in June of 2022 by Ideal Capital and the developer has submitted a zoning by-law amendment to change the property, (which exists in an intensification corridor) from a Residential Type 1C (R1C) and Flood Residential Type 1C (F-R1C) to a Flood-Residential Medium Density Type B (F-R4B).

The site is approximately one acre in size and currently contains a three-and-a-half storey single detached dwelling with two single-storey additions onto the rear of the existing dwelling.

If the by-law change is approved, it would allow the developer to build a four-storey apartment building with 47 units and 64 parking spaces (ten being for visitors) on the land.

With the property being in an intensification corridor (there is intent to increase densities in close proximity to existing and planned transit), the official plan states that a new building has to meet specific requirements. The plan says that a new building, whether it’s a retail store, apartment, retirement home or the like, must be at least three-storeys, and no more than six-storeys. It was also noted that the lot is too deep to have townhouses.

As a part of the planning process, a neighbourhood meeting is required before heading off to the planning committee.

On Tuesday, residents in attendance were upset from the start, as many neighbours in the area did not receive a notice regarding the gathering and felt as though it was not an accurate representation of the community.

“How could this be a public meeting that meets the requirement when some people in this room weren’t even notified? I expected this room to have three to four times the number of people in it,” said one resident.

Community members note that many of them did not receive a notice about the neighbourhood meeting on Tuesday, November 21, 2023.

Sean House, Senior Development Planner of the City’s Development Planning Department, noted that only those who live within 120 meters of the property would have received the notification but would investigate why others did not receive a letter in the mail.

Many brought forward concerns about the traffic in the area as it is already a narrow minor arterial road that has heavy traffic.

Residents said that it was hard enough to get onto Erie Avenue from the side streets or to turn in or out of their driveways, let alone with adding more people to the street.

“We’re not just talking about an arterial road running through a subdivision, we’re talking about the fact that we have all the traffic coming in from Norfolk, on top of what’s already in the area,” said one person. “People coming into the city come in slower, but the people that leave the city, haul out of here like a ‘bat out of hell.’ I believe if you put an apartment complex in there, the City will get themselves into unbelievable lawsuits because they’re never going to be able to get those vehicles back onto Erie safely.”

Another added that the developer was trying to jam too much on the piece of land.

When asked if there were any plans to widen the street, House noted that according to the master transportation plan, widening the street is not expected until 2051.

Others said that the proposed 64 parking spots would not be enough as many families and couples have two cars, which is a point of concern as it would lead to people parking on side streets. Those in attendance said that parking on side streets during the winter months was a current issue as people already don’t move their cars for the snow plows.

“So it’s a 47 unit with 64 parking spots and ten are for visitors? So, the people who are coming in as a married couple may have two vehicles,” said one resident. “That means that over 80-some odd parking spaces are actually needed. What happens when there’s a busy holiday and there’s not enough parking for visitors or the residents? Where are they supposed to park?”

Many inquired if a traffic or parking study was done in the area to see if the plan was conducive to that much added traffic.

Juliane Vonwesterholt welcomes Daljeet Dhanesar, Founding Partner of Ideal Capital to the neighbourhood meeting on Tuesday, November 21, 2023.

Juliane Vonwesterholt, an associate with MHBC Planning Urban Design and Landscape Architecture, the planning consultant representing Ideal Capital, said that those details would be addressed at a later date, but that neither of the studies were even required for the development.

“A parking study and or traffic study wasn’t requested by the City as necessary for this development,” said Vonwesterholt.

Councillor Brian Van Tilborg was unaware that the studies were not required and said that he would be request a traffic study to be completed.

Residents present also asked if the units would be based on market rent or subsidized housing.

Daljeet Dhanesar, Founding Partner of Ideal Capital said that it would be based on market rent.

“So you’re going to increase the housing crisis here,” said one resident. “That’s a big concern because my sister is already living with me because she’s been kicked out of her house. She works full time but she cannot afford a place on her own.”

Attendees also asked about the impact this building would have on the schools in the area.

House said that the Grand Erie District School Board (GEDSB) was notified about the proposal.

“We circulated the GEDSB on these applications and Bellview Public School did note that they are at capacity right now” said House. “So within every lease agreement or purchase and sale agreement, there will be a warning clause that if you’re expecting to go to Bellview, the kids may have to get bussed somewhere else.”

One concerned resident noted that his son is currently attending the school and that his classroom has no windows or air-conditioning.

“I have a five year old son in senior kindergarten that is currently in a room without windows and air conditioning because that is how overcapacity Bellview school is,” he said. “So in its current state, it’s a detriment to the children there now, let alone with any additional children.”

The resident in the current home located at 264 Erie Ave. asked if the developers had any consultation with the Indigenous community.

“Has Six Nations been involved? Because it’s supposed to be,” he said. “If it’s six miles on either side of that Grand River, Six Nations needs to be notified.”

Vonwesterholt said that it was up to the municipality to take care of that.

Starla Myers, a resident of Six Nations of the Grand River, said that was unacceptable.

“There’s been no duty to consult with Indigenous people. I descend directly, matrilineally according to all my traditions and customs, from the Mohawk Valley and to the three villages that are named in the proclamation that speak to this land and I do not agree with this” said Myers. “Municipalities and developers are not responsible enough to meet with Indigenous people, because they sidestep us on a consistent regular basis.”

When concerns for landscaping and tree removal came up, Myers also noted that disturbing the roots of the trees would affect the reserve located downstream.

Others then asked about the privacy issues.

“If this is going to be close to residential yards, is there any plan to give those family’s privacy when you have the four stories of residents that live in those apartments and are looking down?” asked one woman.

On top of the privacy issue, many expressed their concerns with the lighting of the parking lot.

“In June of this year, city council passed a nuisance outdoor lighting by-law, so how are you going to fix the lighting for the parking there, so it’s not just pitch black a great area for crime?”

Many were frustrated with the lack of answers, however Vonwesterholt insisted that all of these details would be looked at the site plan stage and would be forward to residents.

“A lot of these details about what the site’s going to look like and how the site is going to function, actually get ironed out at the site plan stage, which is the next stage of the development,” she said.

Throughout the two-hour meeting several other points about the existing crime and little police presence came up, as well as infrastructure concerns with the pumping station and evacuation procedures for floods or fires.

“Is there an evacuation plan to get the 47-plus people out of there in case a fire happens or if the Grand River floods? Where will they go if something were to occur?” one asked. “And remember that when we had the last flood, hundreds of people were left without road access, they left there for days without hydro. The emergency plan was not sufficient.”

The overall consensus from those present was that the new apartment building was not welcome in their community.

“This community has established the movies in Tutela Park, the splash pad, the sledding, all of the fun things that I get to do with my boys, that will all be set back if this happens,” said one man. “What will happen is, you will see the members of your community that have moved here and helped foster that development, leave and we will be right back where we were with the stigma of Brantford prior to all of those wonderful things.”

Van Tilborg did suggest that those living in the Eagle Place community should try to attend the planning committee meeting that will be on December 14, 2023 at 9:30 a.m., and if they cannot make it, they should keep an eye out for the upcoming council meeting that will take the final vote on the by-law amendment.

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