Sunday, October 24, 2021

Dear SkyDev, We Don’t Have Time For Your Games

There has been significant interest and concern among Meaford residents over a proposed, high density development on the former Stanley Knight flooring factory property located at 226 Boucher St. E.

The development would see the lands be rezoned to the Residential Multiple zone to facilitate the construction of a five-storey hotel and spa, three two-storey townhouse buildings, three five-storey waterfront townhouse buildings, and two five-storey apartment buildings on the lands. The Development Concept includes 90 hotel units, 14 two-storey townhouse units, 72 waterfront townhouse units, and 120 apartment units (proposed as rental tenure) for a site-wide total of 206 residential units.

Surrounding the property are quiet, long-established residential streets of mostly one- and two-storey detached residential homes. As I wrote in late May, those residential streets are not designed to accommodate the enormous amount of traffic that such a huge development would bring along, and with no major road leading to the property, those residential streets will be the only option, and I suspect it will be a nightmare.

Back in May, a virtual public meeting was held in which nearly 40 residents registered to address Council, and another 125 written comments had been received from residents at that point.

The proponent, SkyDev, did not have many answers to the many questions posed, though they promised to come back to Council with answers to the questions put forward – a month and a half later, we have heard nothing from SkyDev. No answers as promised, no follow up with Council.

That brief history is provided in order to help demonstrate the absolute absurdity that was a meeting held by SkyDev on Friday, July 2.

Yes, you read that right. SkyDev held a meeting on the Friday of the first long weekend of the summer, and worse yet, they notified very few people. A small number of residents in close proximity to the proposed development received invitations by email, but it seems nobody else was notified. Members of Council appeared to be in the dark, and I can tell you that the media wasn’t informed of the meeting, as I found out the day prior, on Canada Day, from a resident who had received an invite.

If SkyDev’s intent was to insult the sensibilities of Meaford residents, I suppose they succeeded. The idiocy of hosting a meeting on a proposed development that the proponents are well aware has caused an uproar in the community, on the Friday of the Canada Day long weekend is almost inconceivable. We might be small town folk, but we aren’t stupid, and we know well what a pile of manure smells like.

The concerns expressed by residents are many and they cover a wide range, from the three five-storey structures proposed for the site, to a significant increase in traffic, to environmental and waterfront access considerations. Many have even expressed a disdain for the aesthetics of the buildings included in the concept drawings; apparently red brick is out of fashion.

As I have written recently, I don’t personally have an issue with the concept design itself, nor am I personally bothered by taller buildings. In fact, I am often bothered by the amount of control we collectively feel we should have over the aesthetics of private developments. Not that a community should have no input or controls, but I often feel that we expect too much control.

That said, though I might not share some of the aesthetic or building height concerns that are genuine and valid issues for many, there are other serious issues with the SkyDev proposal, not the least of which is the sheer amount of traffic that would invade long-established, quiet residential streets that lead to the property.

With several hundred individuals residing in all of those homes, if even just a third of them leave for work each morning, that would be hundreds of cars passing by the homes of immediate and current neighbouring properties compressed into a short period of time. Add in the proposed 90-room hotel, and summer traffic on those neighbouring streets will be even more of a nightmare.

So the list of concerns is long, and in spite of a virtual public meeting that saw significant public participation, with dozens of questions asked, SkyDev has yet to provide any response to our council or our residents, yet they found time to host a holiday weekend meeting for a select few, and they kept it quiet.

This community deserves better; this community deserves more respect from those requesting to develop land within our borders.

We don’t have time for your games, SkyDev. Answer the questions of residents, answer the questions of Council, and don’t host meetings for a select few on a long weekend. It doesn’t seem like all that much to ask.

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