Letter: Opposition to proposed 12 Storey Apartment Complex

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My name is Tova Arbus; I reside at 94 Lansdowne Avenue, the large property directly across from the north/west corner of the designated property. The proposed building would be right across from me, easily visible from both my backyard and house windows.

I am writing to express my opposition to the proposed re-zoning and development of the property at 22 MacDonald Avenue, application number A-8-19-Z.

I did receive one notice in the mail on March 6, advising of the meeting on March 7; unfortunately, I was out of town on this date and without sufficient notice to change my plans, was not able to come to the meeting. The timing of the mail-out and meeting were further complicated by March Break, which meant many people were in a similar position as I was. I was further disappointed not to receive any other follow up or communication on the matter of this development, particularly since I have several concerns.

Having only recently moved to the neighbourhood, my husband and I were attracted by the quiet, established, family-centric neighbourhood, the privacy of the natural surroundings of the ravine, and the historical ambiance provided by this heritage neighbourhood. There are very few areas in the City which can boast both excellent walkability and access to all amenities and peaceful natural surroundings. We intend to live here for many years, raising our children, and enjoying all that this area has to offer.

Receiving word of the proposed build was troubling, to say the least. And the more I learned about it, the more I felt that this project is completely out of sync with the neighbourhood around it.

A 12-storey, 90 unit, “luxury” building with such a modern aesthetic would completely dominate the otherwise small, single-family homes around it. The design of the building does not fit at all with these lovely heritage homes.

There is a reason that R.2. is in place; “low- and high-density development should be integrated and compatible in density, height, and building setbacks. Generally, high density development shall be restricted to major arterial streets and areas abutting the downtown core.” And while the case is made in the report that MacDonald “accommodates relatively high traffic volume”, I would not call it a “major arterial street”. Nor would the proposed project be integrated or compatible with the surrounding heritage homes within the area.

The report states that “much of the surrounding development and parcel fabric is consistent with that of the downtown area”. However, when driving around the downtown, the neighbourhoods most comparable, to the eastern edge (Simpson/Leo/Upton area) do not accommodate high density builds of this nature within such close proximity to family homes. Nor, to my knowledge, are there any other examples of this kind of mixed-use development in a family-centric zone.

One of my biggest concerns is the proposed height of the building itself. A 12-storey building would loom over the tree line, creating issues of shadowing on the adjacent properties, and interference with privacy and therefore enjoyment of the resident’s private yards.

Although the report assures that “rear yard overlook and shadowing impacts remain important considerations”, it also presents grave contradictions, recognizing that the proposed 138’ building will be much taller than nearby buildings, and that it will be a prominent fixture of the city’s skyline. The report assumes that the tree canopy is 33’ tall; compared against 138’, this building would definitely be seen over the tree tops, particularly during the fall, winter, and early spring, when there are little to no leaves present to provide the necessary coverage. I can attest to the fact that, when I look out my back windows on either lower or upper floor, or simply stand anywhere in my yard, I can clearly see all of the lot next door. A building of this size would absolutely be seen clearly, and any residents living in the upper floors would be able to see just as clearly into my private residence and yard.

The other important area of concern for me is environmental. What precautions are in place to protect the surrounding ecosystem from 1.5+ years of construction, and such a drastic shift to the local environment? With the proposed build taking up most of the lot, it seems to come quite close to where the down-slope of the ravine starts.  With talk from the developers of driving piles into bedrock, and the obvious structural requirements of such build of this height, what impact will this have on the stability of the slopes? Will work lights used during construction and the interior and exterior lighting of the finished project increase light pollution in this area? What assurances are in place that this would not disturb both the peaceful nature of the neighbourhood at night, nor the nocturnal creatures that call this area home?

With its current designation of “parks and rec” sadly underused, this property is considered a designated green space, and one of only a few that we have in this area. I am disappointed that green spaces are not given more of a precedent in our city, and while I can agree that we do need housing, I stress the importance of recognizing and utilizing the green spaces we have left.

I am aware of others in the area who share my concern, many of whom were not given the opportunity (through notification) to attend the meeting, and in some cases, that this proposal was even in place. Attendance of only 15 people at the meeting, in my opinion, is not a good example of local sentiment regarding this project.

While I can very much appreciate that this type of development contributes to a thriving future for our city, I would ask for the following considerations:

1. An extension before approving or refusing this application, during which time more information could be circulated within the area during a time not impacted by challenging scheduling such as the March Break, and residents given a better chance to respond to this proposal.

2. Restricting the height of the building to something more reasonably in line with the surrounding neighbourhood, perhaps 5 or 6 stories.

3. Taking a page out of the Chartwell Collegiate Heights project and working to better integrate the design of the building to the rest of the heritage homes, and general aesthetic of the neighbourhood.

4. That no approval is granted until developers are able to show that environmental impacts will be at a minimum, and that all long-term impacts have also been considered and precautions put in place.

Respectfully submitted,

Tova Arbus

94 Lansdowne Avenue

8 COMMENTS

  1. Unfortunately, although I wholeheartedly agree with Mr.Arbus, this decision to build this comes down to money. Its a business decision. Emotions of people surrounding that building have nothing to do with it. I have learned this with most things in life. Just look at school closings. All of the Sault could show up to give reasons why they shouldn’t close but the decision to close a school has already been made by the ADSB. Even though they give everyone the opportunity to come out and have they’re say. They are all wasting their breath. My mother lives in the vicinity of this proposed building and I know she doesn’t want to stare at it everyday either when she sits on her porch. It’s all about who has MONEY!

  2. I did not have time to read through every word however so relieved that such a letter was made public though not sure where in terms of the visibility. The latter is one of my major concerns.

    As for disagreement by those who read the letter and whose replies are visible the where all is not clear to me. I sure do hope that an appeal is processed and adjudicated in the right way.

    Whoever disagrees with me I suggest you kindly restrain yourself from an uncivil response.

  3. I watched this council meeting and listened to the complaints. I think we should name our city Trump City because every time a developer wants to do something here there is always a group that wants to put up WALLS.

    • Very true! Our city eill likely become a senior town. We need modern development sndchousing to attract more people the Soo. Anytime a developer comes along, they are shot down. I do empathize with the residents but no matter where new development goes, there will always be complaints. We have a very conservative thinking society.

  4. In order for a city to grow and prosper we have to rid ourselves of the NOT IN MY BACKYARD notion. If the building conforms to all codes and meets all city regulations…then there is no reason to deny the application.

    • I agree, Georgina. One concern of myself and others, and likely another very valid one, is onslaught of rats in the area once they start excavating. And where will our furry ‘friends’ go? Not uphill (they are already there), but toward adjacent residential areas downhill. Where else? I understand that our city is already dealing with a huger-than-usual rat problem, but granted, I have no statistical data to back up this claim. It is truly unfortunate that municipal noses are being thumbed at long standing, tax paying residents of this area….it seems that way. Are the contractors going to put rat patrol measures in place ?? .
      Indeed, I agree with Ms. Arbus’ basic points, but I especially agree that this area is hardly a major arterial traffic area. It is a moderate traffic area at best, and only on MacDonald Avenue: Gladstone Avenue seems busy only on Catholic mass days. The area is realistically defined as a quiet neighbourhood, with senior’s complexes, a church, and several private-family residents who pay municipal taxes.
      It might be time for the neighbourhood to ‘lawyer up’?

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