New homes in Sidney not necessarily a given

Municipal councillors were split on a pair of housing projects prior to the new year.

As Sidney considers its Strategic Plan for 2016 to 2018, municipal leaders have expressed being open to new housing development projects.

At Monday night’s council meeting, however, councillors made it clear that not every application will be approved — a statement met with some incredulity from members of the audience.

Case in point for council are two proposals — a four storey residential building on Fourth Street and a new home subdivision between Ardwell Avenue and Resthaven Drive. Both have drawn concern from neighbouring residents who say that each one is too much for the existing area.

The multi-storey building proposal is the second iteration of the developer’s plan for the property at the corner of Fourth and Oakville Avenue. The original plan was for 17 residential units and commercial space on the ground floor. This week, they presented revised plans for 11 units. Council had previously sent the plan back to the proponent after residents complained the structure was too tall, the parking too little and its design  not in keeping with the neighbourhood.

The developer has also proposed paying up to $50,000 to upgrade Oakville Avenue next to the property.

While council unanimously agreed with that amenity contribution, some were quick to point out that this approval was only a single step in a process that might not, ultimately, be approved.

Coun. Peter Wainwright said he’s opposed to this plan, stating he didn’t see the overall benefit to the area.

“There’s nothing special or major here,” he said. “And I ask myself, when has council last said ‘no’ to a bonus density request?”

Coun. Mervyn Lougher-Goodey noted the developer made significant changes to his plan after being asked by council to do so last summer and should be allowed to go through the Town’s public hearing process.

Besides, he said, Monday’s discussion was supposed to be about the amenity contribution.

The Ardwell and Resthaven proposal is to increase land coverage to accommodate 17 lots. Neighbours are opposed and more than 100 people have signed a petition against it.

Coun. Erin Bremner said she could not support the project as it stands and would want to see further compromise between the developer and the community.

Wainwright noted that some of the opposition was “over the top,” adding any developer is allowed to air their project and follow the Town’s process — not necessarily meaning that it would be approved.

“The Town can encourage differences in applications,” he said, “and council can say ‘no’.”

Councillors, however they felt about the proposal, did agree in the end that the plan should be aired in public at an open hearing in the new year.