Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Pressing Development

Last night, in Town Hall council chambers, I attended the second meeting of a new citizen's group forming in town: the Dundas Preservation Project. The effort was originally ignited by a project proposed for the vacant lot on Main Street between the Centurion apartment building and the Beads of Colour shop across from Town Hall.

Despite two articles by Craig Campbell in the Dundas Star news (read the most recent one here:, awareness of the project and its impact on downtown are still quite low.

You can see the group's Facebook page here:

For those of you with a Facebook aversion, these two pictures should give you a good impression of what is envisioned by the architect.

Wow that's big!
Nine stories, count 'em.
Understandably, the residents around the building are concerned about the impact such a large structure will have on their lives. To the north, the foundation comes right to the property line and the general scale of the proposal does not sit well contextually, never mind the additional traffic thrown into one of the busiest and arguably most dangerous parts of town. The list of amendments and deviations being requested by the developer is impressive. From its height to its setbacks, this is an ambitious, perhaps aggressive, plan.

What was especially galling to me was that while the plan was reviewed by the Dundas Community Council over a year ago, the residents in the immediate vicinity of the proposed building only received notice of the application to the Planning Department late in the summer. As if that wasn't bad enough, they were only given a very small window to submit their comments to the review process.

Sadly, we've seen this type of shot across the bow before in Dundas, at least three previous times in recent memory. One is left the gnawing sense that developers are going big in the hope that after an inevitable arbitration at the Ontario Municipal Board, they get exactly what they really wanted in the first place.

Clearly, we have a really big systemic problem on our hands here. It shouldn't have to be like this.

Were I the Councillor, what I'd like to see is a standing development review panel that would look at development proposals as they arrive and look at them from both the perspectives of the immediate neighbours to the new buildings and Dundas as a whole. The Dundas Preservation Project is a great starting point.

I envision something independent of the Community Council, where membership would be open and could be called upon either through a Facebook group or a simple mailing list. Whenever a new project came across my desk, I would host a meeting and we could review it together, collaboratively.

The idea is not to limit development in Dundas but to ensure that what we have in the end is something that makes everyone happy. This will save the developer tons of time and money and it will save the community tons of heartache. To quote the late, great Joan Rivers: "Can we talk?"

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