The Blue Mountains Attainable Housing Corporation will not be moving forward with a four-storey proposal for The Gateway Project.
The corporation made the decision several weeks ago to move to a three-storey proposal after the four-storey concept generated significant community opposition.
The significant change became a topic of discussion at The Blue Mountains council meeting on May 24. Corporation Executive Director Jennifer Bisley delivered an update report to council that generated a lengthy and spirited discussion about several aspects of the project.
Town CAO Shawn Everitt expressed disappointment that the project had been changed to three storeys.
“It’s all about density, I know that’s not a very popular concept. Density for a lot of our areas is up,” said Everitt. “Four (storeys) seemed to be something that would be agreeable. I don’t think enough people in the community know about going from a four-storey to a three-storey. That’s a significant decision. I’m afraid that may set the tone for future attainable and affordable housing projects.”
Members of council echoed the CAO’s comments.
“Going up is the way to go,” said Deputy Mayor Peter Bordignon.
Mayor Alar Soever said the change to three storeys was made to avoid further delays to the project. Soever said the four-storey concept likely would have generated an appeal to the Ontario Land Tribunal causing a major delay.
“It removes the substantial risk of delay. It’s unfortunate it’s come to that. It’s a way to move forward quickly,” he said.
The three-storey proposal will have the same number of units on the property, but the building will cover more of the site.
Bisley said the corporation did look at alternatives to moving forward with the four-storey model, including requesting a Minister’s Zoning Order (MZO), but found that alternative unappealing.
“It might not be perfect, but the cost of not doing anything would be huge,” she said. “We’ve had to make some concessions. We hope to move forward and get shovels in the ground next spring.”