You know, it’s a wonder any infill gets built in this city at all.
Eight delegations (I’ve never seen so many) from the Coronation Park Community Group came out last night to express their opposition to Silver Sage’s proposed housing development at 4001 – 3rd Ave N — a development that would provide affordable rental accommodation for low to middle income aboriginal families and assisted living suites for aboriginal seniors. Hard to see a downside to this but the community trotted out a list of worries:
• There’s too much crime in their neighbourhood. These new families don’t want to live around all that crime.
• No seriously, there’s too much crime in their neighbourhood. And these new rental suites will attract more criminals — as rental suites are wont to do.
• There’s too much rental and affordable housing in their neighbourhood. This new affordable housing will contribute to ghettoization.
• There’s not enough park space in their neighbourhood. These new families will have no place to play and picnic.
• There’s too much traffic in their neighbourhood. This will make the traffic problems worse.
• There’s too much flooding in their neighbourhood after a big rain. This development will cause more flooding.
• This development should be built someplace nice like Harbour Landing. Council could arrange a land swap. You know, like in Monopoly.
Their neighbourhood came off sounding pretty awful — all bloody needles, dead bodies, drunks and spent condoms — and by the end of it, it really seemed like the only rational solution to the Coronation Park problem would be to nuke it from orbit and start fresh.
(And yet, no one from the CPCG indicated they were planning to move out of Coronation Park. Instead, they all talked about being long-term residents.)
Anyway, council was unconvinced by their arguments and granted approval. Only Councillor Bryce, the representative for the ward, voted against it. She stated there were still too many unanswered questions about the development and that, because so many of the residents she represents were against it, she would be voting against it.
Councillor Browne, on the other hand, spoke about how, after reading through the 3/8ths of an inch of material the community provided in advance of this meeting, the image in his mind of what was being proposed became worse and worse and he began to worry for the community and his sympathies were with the residents.
But then, he learned more….
“The evolution and growth of that sympathy for the citizens’ concerns really came to a screeching halt when I saw the applicant’s submission. What I had in my mind after reading the citizens’ submissions was completely different from what the applicant [Silver Sage] was proposing.
The full scope of the applicant’s proposal is 26 units of low-rise, seniors’ assisted living. So, by way of all of the problems that the citizens have raised, I think we can just hive that off. I don’t think there’s any concerns with respect to 26 units of seniors’ assisted living. I mean, this is for people who can no longer support themselves in their own homes. They need assistance in their day to day activities.
The balance of the application at this point is 36 doors. That’s what all of this is about. 36 units. 36 units is so different from what I imagined after reading the submissions. I was thinking we were going to be dealing with a massive complex, hundreds of families from who knows where, infiltrating an area. That has nothing to do with what we’re dealing with.”
“With respect to the area vacancy rate, it’s 0.0 per cent. Nothing. There is no vacancy in this area. And this council has consistently bent over backwards and twisted ourselves into a pretzel trying to come up with affordable housing and rental accommodations to alleviate this…. Here we have an applicant [Silver Sage] coming forward, with a history of providing rental accommodations in an area that is 0.0 — that’s a compelling factor for me.”
“I can’t see any good reason why we wouldn’t want to proceed with this. It addresses so many of the concerns and issues that we have asked the community and developers to come forward and address.”
Later, Councillor O’Donnell addressed the claim that community concerns were not being taken seriously, as evidenced by the lack of questions that were put to them:
“Prior to Planning Commission I received a document — I don’t remember exactly how many pages — but it was in excess of 90 pages. Read it all. In the interim, I also received approximately 10 or 12 letters from area residents. Read them all. Prior to this meeting, I have this document, it’s 45 pages or 50 pages. Read it all. I’ve heard at Planning Commission, I’ve heard here, the same presentations many times. Why don’t I have questions? Because I have a clear view as to how the people feel. It was repeated over and over again. I’m really not sure what to add.”
He concluded his comments this way….
“You will note in our report, if this report goes ahead as planned, it will increase the density in this area by seven per cent. You’ll note that when we look at infill housing, we want to increase the density. Density is a good thing. Density creates community. I’m going to finish with this thought. I’ve told you this before and I’m going to tell you again and I’m going to keep on saying it as long as I’m on council, I want one of these days that when we have an infill housing development that looks after people — because everybody needs a safe place to live — that the residents will step up, welcome them to the neighbourhood, and say, ‘I’ll also look after you as my forefathers looked after me.’”
There’s more that could be said on the subject but maybe I’ll save my own seething anger for the paper.