Irate Rockwood Homeowners and tenants of the Forest Park apartments,
met on September 18 to hear a revised proposal for development of the
lands fronting on Rathburn Road, and Ponytrail, right across from the
Kingsbury Plaza. The meeting, hosted by Councillor Fonseca, allowed local residents the opportunity to voice their sentiments about this new proposal. Presentations were made by both the City and the Developer, about the process of the application to approve a plan of development, and to unveil the most recent submission by the developer.
At a previous meeting, held last October, the developer proposed a plan that included: 413 additional units including a 16 storey tower, 3 low rise buildings and 105 townhouses.
Residents argued that the plan would destroy the identity of the community and would have a major impact on traffic, municipal services, infrastructure and would destroy many mature trees in the area. They also voiced concerns that the town houses were too close to the street, that the tower was too high, and that in general,the concept resembled an urban slum.
The new plan removes the town homes and reduces the number of proposed condominium units from 407 to 290 and the planned density to 1.65. However, the current municipal plan only allows for a maximum density of 1 and the existing density is only slightly below this number. In order to get approval to move forward on the project, Forest Park will have to get an amendment to the zoning and to the official Municipal Plan. The developer used slick marketing terms to describe the attributes of the new plan, but Gord McLean, a retired community activist, now pressed back into the public pulpit by PDOC (Ponytrail Redevelopment Opposition Committee) argued that Forest Park was pitching “a design alien to the community.” He noted that the new low rise buildings could be likened to “4 storey tenements” and that removing the originally proposed townhomes and replacing them with more low rise units was even more unfitting. PDOC’s slogan is “Saying YES to smart growth, saying NO to wrong growth.” Clearly the plans presented did not satisfy those in attendance as meeting the criteria for
blending into this well-established community.
The tenants of the existing buildings painted a sorry picture of the current status of the rental buildings that will remain. They are, according to the tenants, in poor repair; elevators are not working, and appliances remain inoperable for months. Insufficient parking for visitors has resulted in charging for visitor parking, and to avoid this their guests are often told to park across the street at Longo’s.
The question was posed “Who would want to buy a condo from this developer if it cannot manage and maintain it’s current buildings?” This question bears further consideration as the underlying issue here may well be the consequences if Forest Park is unable to sell the new units. If the developer is unable to sell a majority of the suites, and a condominium corporation cannot be formed, the units will stay under the ownership of Forest Park and in essence all the units will become rentals.
Unfortunately, we have already seen this happen. Originally, 1315 Bough Beeches, was approved to be a condominium building, but when sufficient units were not sold, the building was turned into rentals. A new proposal for this property has already been approved, but the builder has not yet filed a plan.
Other concerns were raised in regards to traffic. It was noted that a parking lane had been proposed that would intersect Ponytrail at Tapestry. According to an informed participant in the audience, this would be a serious transportation blunder.
The point was made by the City that this proposal has not been approved, and has not yet been presented to Council. Prior to bringing it to Council, residents will be advised and will have the opportunity to present their case against the development at the time of the council meeting. Councillor Fonseca has already gone on record that she is opposed to the development, because increased density in this area is not supported by the Municipal Plan and the identity of this community is well established and would not benefit from such a development.
Any comments from the community, such as those heard at both public meetings held by the Councillor and received by e-mail to the Councillor or the planning committee, will be submitted to Council along with the proposal if approved by the planning department.
PDOC is leading the community response to the development. Their website contains information on how everyone in Rockwood Village can assist in blocking this development. The website also has all the information you should know about the proposed development. Even if you do not live in the immediate area of Ponytrail and Rathburn, this development would have a major impact on every aspect of the quality of life we currently enjoy in Rockwood Village.
Possibly, the most important aspect may be protecting the value of your home.