Niagara This Week
A St. Catharines resident has taken it upon himself to appeal council’s approval of a six-storey condo project in Port Dalhousie, citing the effect it would have on the public park as the reason.
Jeff Loucks, who also acted on his on behalf in the massive Ontario Municipal Board hearing for the Port Place project, has filed another appeal with the body.
The appeal concerns the Beaches at Port development, which features a six-storey condominium building located adjacent to Lakeside Park, not too far from the start of the original Welland Canal. However, this time around, Loucks’ efforts will not be complemented by PROUD, now known as Port Dalhousie Conservancy, which has decided not to appeal.
In an email to This Week, Conservancy president Hank Beekhuis, said “we did not appeal but we do wish the appellant well.”
Loucks said he doesn’t begrudge the group and understands why it may want to spend its time and resources elsewhere.
“I understand why they’re not,” he said. “Who has the time? This is what the planning department is supposed to be doing. Unfortunately, they’re not.”
Loucks said his main reason for filing the appeal into the project, which is being led by developer Norm Rockwell, is the effect such a large development will have on the park, located just feet away.
He said the development will result in the loss of a large swath of trees, and when it is built, parkgoers will lose a place to get away from the city.
“When you have the building being built right on the edge, you lose that sense,” he said.
Loucks said council and city staff, which supported the development, erred in allowing for the rezoning of environmentally protected land. In all, through land the city will gain in the deal, there will be a net loss of about 1,000 square feet of land zoned as environmentally protected area.
For his part, Rockwell said he worked closely with the city for the past year in order to submit an attractive design that meets the city’s requirements. He pointed to the city’s recently updated master plan which calls for intensification, but following very specific rules and guidelines.
“I tried to meet them and in some respects I even exceeded them,” he said.
He noted about 30 per cent of the property has been transferred to the city, and the remaining environmentally protected land will have enhanced protections, including the portions that remain on the development property and will be protected by the condo corporation.
As for having development near a park, Rockwell said Lakeside Park is an urban park and that “it wouldn’t be the first urban park with a structure next to it.”
In an effort to demonstrate what could be lost, Loucks recently shot a video of what the area of the park in question looks like now.
He concedes the project is visually attractive and is an improvement over the two cottages on the property now.
“It’s a nice looking building and a compact use of land,” he said. “But it’s just too big for that area.”