Guelph Tribune Article re: 716 Gordon Development

Scaled back high-rise plans likely: councillor

By DOUG HALLETT, Guelph Tribune
Jan 11, 2011

The proposal for two university student high-rises is likely to be changed significantly before council holds a final vote on the issue, says Coun. Leanne Piper.

The developer’s application for zoning and Official Plan changes goes to council’s Jan. 17 planning meeting. It could be altered later as a result of public feedback, said Piper, a Ward 5 councillor. Her ward is where the proposed 16- and 14-storey student high-rises would be built at the corner of Stone Road and Gordon Street. “I suspect that this application . . . may not be the final proposal that we see when it comes back for decision, based on the questions and the concerns and the input” heard by council during the public consultation phase, Piper said.

Until she sees a final proposal, Piper won’t be commenting on whether or not she supports it, she told the Tribune.

People living near the site, where a thre estorey hotel now sits, have formed the Mayfield Park Community Association to fight the developer’s application. The group holds its second big meeting tonight (Jan. 11) at 7 p.m. at Harcourt Memorial United Church.

“This is an unprecedented development with far-reaching implications” for the city, the association said in a news release Monday.

Piper said she has been getting “significant correspondence about this application, primarily because it brings up a lot of questions and issues that we haven’t had in this community since Places to Grow came about. This is a much more dense application than any other Places to Grow application we’ve had in the last few years.” Guelph is designated as a growth centre under the province’s Places to Grow legislation, which requires more intensification of development within built-up areas of affected cities.

The application from Mississauga-based developer Abode Varsity Living calls for a total of about 1,500 student bedrooms to be built in the two high-rises, within 341 apartment units each containing four or five bedrooms.

In addition to the density issues, Piper said, the application “also raises the debate whether or not students should be housed all in one location or integrated into the community.

“So that is a debate we should be having,” she said.

Randy Reimer, a spokesperson for the Mayfield Park Community Association, said the proposal for two high-rise student buildings “raises serious issues related to parking, shade, light pollution, privacy, traffic congestion, security, respect for property, vandalism, noise, litter and, last but not least, our property values.

“We would think that any increase in the tax base as a result of this development would, in the longer term, be offset by decreasing taxes as a result of decreased property values,” he said in an e-mail sent to Ward 5 councillors and to the media.



I have had a few questions from residents about why I would not publicly declare my opposition or support for this development application.  To clarify:  I do have many questions, concerns and opinions on aspects of this application.  However, it is never appropriate for a city councillor to form a final position until the planning process is over.    The “planning process” involves giving the applicant an opportunity to formally present the proposal to Council (coming up on January 17th) and then a period of feedback and consultation with the public, where many voices and arguments are heard for and against the proposal.   Until this process is complete, and until a final plan is brought back to Council, accompanied by a detailed planning analysis by professional city staff, it would be premature and irresponsible to state a position.   Feel free to contact me if you have questions or want to provide your feedback about this development application. or 519-822-1260 ext. 2295

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