Proposed 15-storey development irks Riverwalk residents
Questions are being raised about a proposed development for the Riverwalk community, with residents expressing concerns over what’s being considered for the commercial lands.
The Rossignol Crescent property – on the corner of Tenth Line Road and Jeanne d’Arc Boulevard – is just over 16 acres next to a medium-density residential subdivision, and is already partially under development by Ashcroft Homes to establish two previously-approved retirement residences.
The development application currently before the city is requesting a rezoning from business park industrial to general mixed-use for the remaining property. Proposed by Ashcroft is a development including apartment units, office space, park land, a restaurant, medical building and ambulatory centre incorporated into a residential facility.
But residents from the neighbouring area have reacted swiftly to news of the proposed project, explains Orléans Riverwalk Community Association (ORCA) member Tom Breuer, their concerns about the initial application culminating in two public meetings and a barrage of comments to the city since late April.
There are six main components to what has Riverwalk residents worried about the potential development, Breuer explains, including the height of some buildings proposed for the site.
“They want to put a 15-storey building in right next to townhouses,” he says.“It’s not compatible.”
An increase in traffic congestion is another, Breuer explains, adding residents want to see further mitigation measures to ensure the neighbourhood isn’t overrun, including a direct entrance off Tenth Line, raised curbs so area children can continue to safely walk to neighbouring schools and for the city to push ahead development of the Tenth Line transit stop.
A larger buffer between property lines and new buildings is also on the list, he recounts, to ensure privacy and maintenance of some green space, as well as protected, active park land.
So far ORCA has met with Ashcroft three times to discuss the proposal, Breuer says, adding they are currently awaiting word back from the city with the application’s comment period closing last week.
“We really do want to work with Ashcroft and the city to make sure it’s a good development here,” he explains.“They’ve both been very helpful in providing feedback and helping us interpret (information). We really do want to collaborate.”
Ashcroft has also granted some concessions, Breuer continues, pointing to their reduction in height of one building from 20 storeys to 15, as well as modifications to the height of other proposed structures.
“But it’s not nearly enough,” he suggests, explaining ORCA would prefer a maximum of four storeys along Lawler Crescent and six storeys closer to Rossignol. “The best-case scenario … would be buildings with a reasonable height, with minimal traffic impacts and some great parks.”
Feedback on the development application “has been very divided so far,” continues Orléans Coun. Bob Monette, whose ward includes the Rossignol site. “A lot of residents have mixed feelings on it.”
Ashcroft was “very controversial their first time around,” he recounts, when they tabled plans for the property in an application that was defeated by council but overturned and revised at the Ontario Municipal Board in 2005. The result of that case is the pair of retirement residences being developed onsite, significantly scaled back and modified from the original proposal.
But with the current application, the heights of some buildings “seems excessive,” Monette says, adding he’d prefer to see more emphasis on commercial development and employment creation on the lands.“Fifteen storeys is still too high for me, unless it’s 15 storeys for employment.”
Having met both with residents and Ashcroft representatives, the developer “did not necessarily agree with their position,” he continues, though pointing to some changes made in the wake of resident feedback.
“Ashcroft is being more cooperative this time around,” Monette suggests, adding the next step for the proposed project will be another public meeting. “There are some positive movements, but a lot more work has to be done.”
Ashcroft representatives did not return calls by press time.
Orléans Riverwalk Community Association member Tom Breuer is worried about the height
of a proposed development on Rossignol Crescent.