LETTERS: A development dream versus residents’ nightmare

So we have to ask: who will benefit? Certainly not the residents of this neighbourhood.

Sidney council will be considering a number of new development plans during the coming weeks which require re-zoning in order for development permits to be issued.

In an example of over-building on small lots, council will be asked to approve the Development Plan for 9700-9708 Fourth Street — a four-storey building with 11 dwelling units and commercial space on the ground floor. The maximum permitted density in its current zoning is up to seven residential units.

Council voted (4-2) at its meeting on Dec. 21 to accept the applicant’s community amenity contribution of $5000/additional unit or $20,000 for Oakville laneway improvements.

This whole concept of bonus density is seriously flawed and is clearly not warranted in this case. The four additional units actually provide no net benefit to the pleasant residential neighbourhood. To facilitate the four additional units the building envelope has been blown up to 21,000 square feet. All surrounding condo buildings on this segment of Fourth are three stories or less with single family homes to the south of Oakville.

So we have to ask: who will benefit? Certainly not the residents of this neighbourhood.

Council can stop this blight if they choose to or they could throw the neighbourhood under the bus in exchange for the inconsequential $20,000 contribution.

In the last election, several members of council ran on an affordable housing platform. The stated goal was to provide housing which would encourage younger demographics to settle in our Town. It should be noted, the average cost of units in this proposed building will be well north of $500,000 and the larger units are likely to command prices higher than $600,000. Does Sidney really need more high-priced housing?

If residents overall really want to maintain the charm of Sidney, we must all actively demand that council and staff live up to their stated operating philosophy of an “open, inclusive and accountable local government.” Indeed, the Fourth Street development flies in the face of several elements contained in council’s new Strategic Plan.

Municipal governments are elected to support the kind of Town its residents want to live in. We did not elect council to tell us what is best for us. Increasingly, new projects are being built to the lot lines which fosters over-development on small lots. It all but eliminates outdoor space sought by families with young children. It often diminishes existing property values where residents purchased in good faith, believing current zoning could not be so easily changed.

Developers should not have more influence with the Town than the resident taxpayers. Isn’t it time residents stand up for the Sidney they want to live in?

Ken and Sue Groom, Sidney