Waterdown residents aired their concerns about a proposed 79-unit condo development slated for 383 Dundas St. at an Ontario Municipal Board hearing May 29.
The hearing, which got underway May 23 and is expected to wrap up June 2, was held at the Dundas Town Hall and was overseen by chairperson Sharyn Vincent.
During the May 29 meeting, four residents who had applied for participant status at the hearing made submissions outlining their concerns about the project. The development, which would be located on the current Connon Nurseries site, is being proposed by Mikmada Homes.
Nathan Tidridge, Cindy Mayor, Jim Duschl and Michael Hawkrigg presented their concerns – which included parking and density.
Mayor, who lives on Milverton Close, said she feels the application should be denied. She noted more than 300 area residents who are opposed to the development wrote letters authorizing her, Duschl and Hawkrigg to speak on their behalf.
She said many residents have issues with the development and the impact it will have on parking and traffic.
Mayor said there are limitations with Dundas Street – the main east-west corridor in the community – including that it cannot be widened through the core because of the proximity of heritage buildings along the roadway.
“Because of these heritage buildings, widening Dundas Street to accommodate more traffic is not possible,” she said. As a result, Mayor said, traffic along Dundas Street gets congested.
While a bypass is planned for the area, she is skeptical it will reduce westbound traffic flows for those wanting to get into town.
Mayor noted there are also visibility concerns for drivers eastbound on Dundas Street as they climb the hill just before reaching First Street. The proposed entrance for the Mikmada development is just east of First Street.
Another issue, said Mayor, is traffic infiltrating other streets such as Boulding Avenue or Milverton Close – often travelling at high speeds. She said this is especially an issue when there are closures on Highway 403 and 407 and Dundas Street becomes even more inundated with traffic.
Mayor also raised concerns about the amount of parking available in the proposed development.
“We feel that this appeal should not proceed, based on the numerous traffic, parking and consequent safety issues,” she said.
During cross-examination Mikmada lawyer Russell Cheeseman noted the city chose not to call traffic evidence.
As well, he added, the parking provided in the development plan allows for more spots that the bylaw requires.
Mayor noted residents are concerned that walkways to either First Street or Boulding Avenue would lead to increased parking on those streets by residents of the development.
Cheeseman suggested the walkways would allow the residents of the proposed development to have access to other green space areas, such as nearby parks.
In his testimony, Duschl said he was concerned with the traffic created by the development, as well as the density of the proposal.
“Our concern is that the developer is creating a living space that will interfere with our neighbourhood character and increase the amount of traffic congestion on the surrounding streets,” the First Street resident said. “As well as increase the safety issues for both pedestrians and other traffic.
“There is very little in this proposal that is in scale with the existing neighbourhood – the density is too high for the location and the size of the property.”
Duschl added the area is surrounded by low-density homes and any new development should enhance the character of the existing environment.
“We strongly object to a medium-density development on such a tight corner property that has insufficient green space and amenities for its residents.”
He added as the proposed development has no basements, residents will likely use their garages for storage, rather than vehicle parking – which could lead to issues on surrounding streets.
Cheeseman suggested if parking is a concern in the area currently, the issue could be resolved by the installation of no parking signs by the city.
Michael Hawkrigg resides on Balgownie Court, but his parents’ home abuts the proposed development.
He noted residents are not opposed to residential development on the site – but they are opposed to this development.
Hawkrigg suggested the property’s unique location in the community – at a traffic pinchpoint, deserves a unique plan.
He also raised concerns about the height of the building – 12.8 m, instead of the allowed 11 m – the setbacks from existing properties and stormwater management on the site.
Hawkrigg took issue with the characterization of the height increase as “insignificant.”
“Insignificant to who?” he said. “The planners and developers who will never live there?”
In his testimony, Tidridge, a WDHS history teacher, local historian and author said he was concerned about the impact of the development on the nearby Souharissen Natural Area.
He noted there are not many natural areas left within the community and the Souharissen is one of them. Tidridge said he fears the development could have negative consequences to the area, as well as Grindstone Creek, in terms of pollution and run-off.
He added a large quantity of garbage currently blows into the area.
However, Cheeseman suggested the site is currently paved. He also noted that, as part of the development, stormwater run-off is slated to be contained on the site.
Ward 15 councillor Judi Partridge noted the city, represented by lawyer Michael Kovacevic, is opposing the proposed development for a number of reasons, including the density of the development, the lack of green space in the design and the location of the site at a traffic pinchpoint, where Dundas Street narrows to two lanes.
In addition, the number of variances attached to the project – specifically a height variance above the allowed – are part of the city’s opposition.
However, traffic is not part of the city’s position, she said, because that argument has been tried in the past.
“They used that argument at the OMB when they challenged all the developers and tried to get the developments phased according to the infrastructure being built,” she said. “The OMB ruled against the city on that and disallowed traffic as an argument.”
She said to use traffic – which is a massive issue – as an argument now would likely have failed.
“It would have just been thrown off the table.”
However, she noted, the residents were well prepared, as well as very professional and articulate in discussing their concerns about traffic.
“They did an excellent job,” she said.
The hearing is expected to continue this week, with closing arguments June 2.