Council has approved two infill projects —one on Clark Road and the other on Wortley Road — that have generated some small public opposition and claims of NIMBYism.
During its meeting on Tuesday (Jan. 28), council supported the zoning change for a proposed multi-unit complex for adults with special needs, along with site plan approval to ensure the project fits into the neighbourhood around 193 Clarke Rd.
Ward 2 Councillor Bill Armstrong spoke in opposition to the project, questioning not only the validity of the developer, but also how the proposed building would exasperate flooding issues for neighbouring homeowners.
It was those issue, and not any suggestion to keep the special needs clients out of the neighbourhood, that Armstrong pushed hard for his council colleagues to take into account.
“Wrong building, wrong place, wrong design,” Armstrong said. “The residents around this particular property have never said they don’t support seeing development on this property, just not this kind of development. It just doesn’t fit with the neighbourhood at all.”
Planning and Environment Committee chair and Ward 5 Councillor Joni Baechler said the issues that had come forward around the project had been dealt with and that what is being proposed is, according to staff, “consistent with the policies of the provincial policy statement.”
As a “vacant and underutilized site,” in context to the rest of the surrounding neighbourhood, the proposal was “conducive” to infill development.
Armstrong wanted a referral back for further study, particularly around the flooding issue. The referral failed to gain much traction and was voted down 10-4 while the planning committee recommendation was carried 12-2.
Similar concerns were brought forward around a proposal for 122 Wortley Rd., just north of Craig Street, which some residents have said doesn’t fit with the surrounding Wortley Village.
The seven-unit building generated debate at the Jan. 21 planning committee meeting with residents calling it “boxy” and not appropriate for the surround architecture of the village.
Baechler spoke to this point by saying that while there were questions around design, staff believes it meets not only the provincial policy statement around intensification, but also the city’s Official Plan policy around low-density infill and the draft Wortley Village Heritage Conservation Plan.
In addition, no development would take place without the necessary approvals were obtained, including those required from Upper Thames River Conservation Authority.
Ward 7 Councillor Matt Brown, who was speaking on the issue because of a conflict for Ward 11 Councillor Denise Brown, saying there had been some design changes that came forward with “enhancements to the design” earlier on Tuesday. City planner John Fleming said the changes weren’t substantial, but did add “significant change” to the roofline of the building, a large concern for some residents.
Baechler also said the proposal, according to the city’s heritage planner, also fit into the “eclectic” nature of the Wortley neighbourhood, which led to staff’s recommendation of the project.
Council voted unanimously in favour of the zoning change and the request for site plan approval.