A debate over a new proposed apartment building and townhouse development on Sixth Street set off an hour-long discussion at the Development and Operations standing committee Wednesday night.
The committee was looking at a recommendation to approve a proposed plan of subdivision of the land at 580-590 Sixth Street. The purpose of the proposed plan is to subdivide the subject land into blocks to permit a residential development including new public streets, a recreational/development setback block and for temporary access and water servicing. The plan is comprised of 64 apartment units and 40 street townhouse units.
Once the plan is approved, the developer would be given a permit to clear cut the land, although both residents and councillors had concerns. Doug Mitchell, who lives on Chamberlain Crescent, spoke to the issue as his property abuts the proposed development.
“If you recall, there was another subdivision in Collingwood on High Street where trees were cut down for a proposed subdivision, and then the developer walked away,” said Mitchell. “What is the rush to cut down trees until everything is ready?”
Mitchell also brought up water treatment and preservation concerns, as well as concerns about the staff report’s classification suggesting this development would provide an opportunity for more affordable housing.
“To the best of my knowledge, this development is not assisted housing and no prices have been provided for the housing to be built. Townhouses are not necessarily affordable,” he said.
Krystin Rennie from Georgian Planning Solutions attended the meeting to answer questions on behalf of the developer.
“In regards to our property, we have to clear the trees in order to start the process. We have to raise the grade and put some fill into the property,” she said. That process takes eight months before building can commence giving time for the ground to settle.
The sticking point for Coun. Deb Doherty was that the developer had opted to pay cash in lieu of adding parkland to the development in the first phase.
Rennie said that as the space within the first phase is small, the intention was to pay cash for the first phase to then put that money toward a bigger park space in the second or third phase.
“We, in this community, know we have affordable housing and attainable housing issues. We know about the intensification requirements. It is very difficult to establish a complete community that can house all of our residents if we’re not prepared to look at higher intensification numbers which include apartments and townhomes that are going to be more attainable for our residents,” said Mayor Brian Saunderson.
“That type of development is a good thing for our community going forward. Integration and implementation of that is another issue,” he said.
“I understand the concerns of our residents... infill developments are very difficult. But during that transition period, I don’t think you can just stop development,” said Saunderson. “I don’t think it’s fair to require one developer to wait for another parcel to be finalized when they don’t own that parcel and it’s beyond their control.”
Saunderson put forward a recommendation that staff provide council with a list of the conditions they require completed before issuing a tree-cutting permit, as well as looking at additional securities and building a privacy fence as part of the tree cutting.
The recommendation passed unanimously, and staff will bring the list before council next week.
The recommendation to support draft plan approval for the subdivision plan on Sixth Street was also carried with only Coun. Yvonne Hamlin opposed. The matter will come up again for a vote at the next council meeting.