Resident fears affordable housing project is a ‘monstrosity’

“I understand that… a lot of other people think it’s a great idea, but obviously it’s not your backyard,” a neighborhood resident said at a town hall meeting.

The city and the company behind a 48-unit housing development planned for the Regent Park United Church property in South Orillia held a virtual open house on Wednesday to discuss the status of the project and collect public comments.

A handful of people “attended” the virtual forum and three spoke about the proposal, which includes a mix of affordable and market-value units created by Kindred Works as part of a national project.

Resident Cam Davidson, who chairs the town’s affordable housing committee, asked what the developers were doing for seniors in the project and whether social services would be included on the site.

“Is there anything here for the elderly? ” He asked.

“What’s happening is that the elderly population is increasing here in Orillia…so in the next five or six years these people, no matter what happens to them, will have nowhere to go if they sell their house now.”

“What we are looking at is trying to have social services very close or on site, like some mental health services,” he continued.

The project will include some social services, such as childcare, explained Kindred Works planner Carly Forrester, adding that affordable housing will be open to seniors.

“Everything about this particular project is housing and some community uses in subsidized child care,” she replied.

“Understanding that seniors are a growing demographic…across Canada, but generally throughout North America…there must be accessible (units) to accommodate this demographic in these spaces. »

She noted that accessibility will be an important feature of the project.

“As for the market units, they are open to everyone, so they can be rented by seniors or families or whoever it is.”

A resident, Alan MacRobie, asked if ratepayers would be footing the bill for property or sidewalk maintenance as a result of the project.

“Anything within the property boundaries as currently described will be non-taxable (funded). They will be the responsibility of Kindred Works and the property management company, so we’re talking about snow removal, lawn mowing, all that sort of thing, not a taxpayer concern,” Forrester said.

Another resident, who did not give a name, fiercely opposed the project.

“I understand that Cam, and probably yourself, and a lot of other people think that’s a great idea, but obviously it’s not your backyard,” she told Forrester.

The resident, whose property adjoins the church property, said she was concerned the project would interfere with the privacy of nearby homes and called the project a “monstrosity” for its design.

“You talk about building structures, chopping down the forest and putting concrete on it. This is not acceptable,” she said. “It’s just a bunch of sheds put together, and I think it’s insulting that you make such a design and think we’re so low on the scale that we would accept this ugly monstrosity in our community. “

“Removing trees is unacceptable, especially if the owner does not know about it,” Forrester replied. “That’s not what we understand to be what’s happening on the property.”

An overview of the project was presented at the meeting.

Forrester explained that the development will provide accommodation for 80 people in 48 one and two bedroom units.

She said the independent business was created with an initial investment from the United Church and hopes to build homes for 34,000 people nationwide over the next 15 years.

In addition to green initiatives, such as the development’s 65% reduction in energy consumption compared to a comparable project, 30% of the units built will be affordable. Kindred Works aims to produce 80% less carbon through construction than current standards by 2030.

In addition, 30% of the units will be universally accessible to people with disabilities and 70% will be at market price.

“As a company, we have quite ambitious goals. We expect to build more than 17,000 new homes across Canada over the next 15 years, which would provide housing for approximately 34,000 people,” Forrester said. “We are aiming for a third of them to be below market as a business in all of our projects.”

Forrester said the company has submitted its initial applications for site plan approval and zoning bylaw amendments, and will be ready to proceed once it receives approval.

Although located in a residential area, the property is currently zoned for institutions, which means the project will require a zoning bylaw amendment to conform to the designated uses of the site.

“The current iteration of the proposal is not permitted in this area, which is why we are currently seeking a site-specific zoning bylaw amendment,” Forrester said. “We have to go through a number of approvals before that, but as soon as the city is willing and able to approve the application, we are willing and able to proceed with the project.”

KPMB Architects consultant Peter Kitchen said the project was designed with the preservation of the property’s environment in mind.

“We were very careful about the location of the buildings on the site. We had two guiding principles that addressed this. The first was to be very aware and careful of the existing large mature trees that are on the north corner,” he said. “There is a two meter buffer zone that is required from the property line; we provide about four to five times that amount in order to save those trees.

Kitchen said the project’s accessible units will be located on the ground floors of buildings and will contain many features for people with disabilities.

“These mixes of one and two bed units, all of the ones in this project will be on the ground floor and all will be accessible, so the bathrooms, the kitchen, the hall, the front doors of . .. outside, everything would be arranged to allow a person with a physical disability to be able to use the space much more easily,” he said.

“The other driving factor was to have only one practice lane on the site to keep so much traffic coming in and out…to contain that and not have so many curbs along the Oxford Street frontage.”

Units will be spread across three buildings on the property, with 0.8 parking spaces per unit, as well as bicycle parking.

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