The unedifying saga of the attempt to build a huge condo tower on the north-west corner of Commercial & Venables has gone on for several years already. Its public life began with an article in the Courier way back in January 2012, followed quickly by a discussion at a GWAC meeting that February.
As early as September 2012, many of us were warning that “a tall — or even medium — tower on the site … would not be appreciated.” However, the proposed high-rise somehow made its way into the “Emerging Directions” document that City Planning produced, so disastrously, in the following June. Even though City Planning was quick to agree that “Emerging Directions” showed a disconnect between Planners and residents, and much of it was scrapped (at least temporarily), the monstrous tower at Commercial & Venables remained in the plan and was fed into the Citizens’ Assembly (CA) process.
I recently discussed many of the problems associated with the proposal.
We now find ourselves at the beginning of the summer 2015 and the tower proposal still hangs over us. It will not be repudiated in the CA document heading for City Council at the end of June, and the recent City-run “open house” at the Wise Hall shows that City Planning is still four-square behind this damaging project.
That being said, the opposition to the tower is also still here and is, in fact, growing apace. It has now solidified into a group specifically opposed to the tower proposal. At a recent group planning meeting, there were multiple and varied reasons for opposition:
- inappropriate height for the neighbourhood
- massing and design on a small site
- intrusion of private profit into the provision of mental health services
- potential dangers to the neighbourhood of an increase in Kettle clients
- increased problems for transportation and transit at a poorly served intersection
- significant changes to the character of the neighbourhood
For all these reasons and more, the meeting was unanimously opposed to the imposition of a tower at that site.
At the same time, the group is keen on moving forward with alternative proposals that will see the site put to best use without any structure higher than four-storeys. A number of such alternatives have already been discussed. The group believes that, if the case is made for an expansion of the Kettle based on its current location, then the needed expansion can be accommodated within the four storey constraints. However, it has to be said, many residents do not believe the case for local Kettle expansion has yet been made, especially in light of the expansion of Kettle services elsewhere recently.
The group will soon move into a public phase, encouraging neighbours and others to share their views on the proposed tower which, if built, will forever upset the character of the Drive and Grandview that we treasure so highly. In the meanwhile, the group will continue to hold a series of internal meetings to determine strategy and tactics.
Any resident who opposes the tower and is willing to contribute productively to the group’s debates can contact me via email@example.com and I will make sure your name gets passed on to the group.