May 22, 2012
I would like to thank everyone that called and sent me emails with regards to the Falcon Boulevard re-zoning. During this process I visited the site and met with a group of local residents that were strongly opposed to the change.
At Council, a number of residents and the developer also presented their thoughts on this issue. This was a challenging issue and after due consideration I decided to support the proposed re-zoning at both Committee and Council.
On one side of the issue is the clear intent that we have to increase residential density in certain areas of the city. The Plains Road corridor is an important part of this plan. We have chosen to make Plains Road far more active and the Plains Road Village Vision supports this. We would like to see more residents in this area and see an increase in services available in Aldershot.
The concern that I heard from residents against this change was that this development was a threat to the balance of the neighbourhood. That the traditional nature of Aldershot might change as a result of the decision and that new forms of residential development would work their way across and down Falcon to other areas.
Given these two competing positions I supported the proposal on the basis that:
1. The project meets the intent of the Official Plan to increase density on the Plains Road corridor.
2. The development will continue to be accessed from Plains Road. Resident access will be through the underground parking which will be shared with the Phase 1 element of the development. This is probably the biggest single issue to me. If the access point was falcon I would not approve this proposal.
3. The parking proposed for Falcon, visitor parking, will result in a minimal traffic impact.
4. The developer has made changes to the development which is consistent with many of the suggestions from the public. The proposed façade will have an appearance and mass very similar to a row of townhouses however the proposed layout will not have the parking and traffic issues that townhouses may have presented.
5. The landscaping also showed change and improvement and significant effort was being made to have an attractive property.
6. I do not believe that this development is a threat to the existing neighbourhood. We are always going to have a transition from one type of housing to another as we see development on arterial and collector roads. A four storey building with a three storey façade is a very reasonable transition.
In my years on Council I have had the opportunity to see the development process in action many times. There are often many concerns about the impact that a development will have. There is a tendency to be concerned for the very worst but not to put any weight on the benefits. Some of the benefits of this project: affordable new residences for our community, new neighbours, homes with access to public transit and increased commerce for local business; are all positives which in this case make this project an overall positive addition to our community.