The good and bad of a chang­ing Alder­shot

My big­gest crit­i­cism of in­tense res­i­den­tial com­plexes to­day is the lack of green space

The Hamilton Spectator - - COMMENT - JOAN LIT­TLE Free­lance colum­nist Joan Lit­tle is a for­mer Burlington alder­per­son and Hal­ton coun­cil­lor. Reach her at specjoan@co­geco.ca

Sum­mer will soon be over, kids back to school, and Burlington com­mit­tees and council meet­ing again. The last city council meet­ing was July 10, re­gional council, July 12. Meet­ings be­gin again Sept 5. — a long hol­i­day — but we’d crit­i­cize them if they held meet­ings while many are still away.

The city has been un­der­go­ing lots of change, and nowhere is that more ev­i­dent than in Alder­shot. It’s chang­ing from a vil­lage, with lots of green­ery, to a more dense, con­crete-cov­ered area. Some of the changes are good, while some beg ques­tions.

For in­stance, RealS­tar’s plans for Georgian court re­de­vel­op­ment and in­ten­si­fi­ca­tion are mostly pos­i­tive, but this is an old af­ford­able rental area now. They pro­pose town­houses, back-to-back town­houses, mid-rises (four to eight storeys) and two high­rises, 15 and 23 storeys. This will be new con­struc­tion, and un­doubt­edly trans­late to higher rents. Council does not con­trol rents or condo prices, and I worry about the loss of af­ford­able hous­ing. There’s no such thing in Burlington to­day as in­ex­pen­sive rent.

Then, there’s the pend­ing Na­tional Homes re­de­vel­op­ment of the Bingo hall plaza at 484 Plains Road East. (Na­tional Homes also pro­poses 233 town­houses at 2100 Brant Street, south of Haven­dale). On Plains they’re look­ing for 414 res­i­den­tial units, in­clud­ing town­houses and two 8-storey con­dos, with 6,900 square feet of re­tail.

A friend who at­tended the public meet­ing ques­tioned the fu­ture of pop­u­lar Home Hard­ware, Alder­shot’s only hard­ware store. The pro­po­nent’s re­sponse was that they were free to rent some of the re­tail space, although my friend ques­tioned the avail­abil­ity of a large enough floor area for them. Will Alder­shot’s only hard­ware store dis­ap­pear, too, like the Zeller’s (Tow­ers), Cana­dian Tire, Do­min­ion (A& P) and the liquor store?

Co­in­ci­den­tally the Home Hard­ware chain was fea­tured in last week’s Re­port on Busi­ness mag­a­zine — how it com­petes suc­cess­fully against the big US chains be­cause of its good cus­tomer ser­vice.

An eight-storey condo with 72 units, at 35 Plains Road East at Cooke Boule­vard, will be dealt with by a com­mit­tee Sept. 25.

Some of the lower-rise con­dos along Plains are very at­trac­tive. But in­ter­est­ingly, a condo owner in Jazz (fur­ther east) is up­set be­cause its ground-level re­tail oc­cu­pants (a beauty sa­lon and den­tist, I be­lieve) are us­ing up the condo’s vis­i­tor park­ing. So­cial life in a condo de­pends heav­ily on vis­i­tor park­ing (which in­ci­den­tally isn’t even re­quired down­town). Should re­tail and vis­i­tor park­ing be sep­a­rate?

An Alder­shot res­i­dent re­cently emailed me, say­ing two cars are es­sen­tial to­day for young high­rise condo buy­ers, be­cause in the early days, usu­ally both spouses work, and when chil­dren ar­rive, ve­hi­cles are needed for shop­ping, med­i­cal trips, and young­sters’ ac­tiv­i­ties, so park­ing must be avail­able. Sin­gle homes and town­houses are out of reach fi­nan­cially now for many, and win­ter isn’t con­ducive to bik­ing or walk­ing.

Tran­sit isn’t a vi­able op­tion for many be­cause of time-con­sum­ing routes and sched­ules. And, she claims, there’s nowhere to walk to in Alder­shot.

She also made an in­ter­est­ing ob­ser­va­tion about high­rises, hav­ing lived in one. Should there be fire es­capes? And dur­ing power fail­ures or el­e­va­tor re­pairs, the taller the build­ings, the more iso­lated ten­ants be­come.

My big­gest crit­i­cism of in­tense res­i­den­tial com­plexes to­day is the lack of green space which, to me, is the very essence of Alder­shot, and I don’t see any new large tracts be­ing set aside. The area is fast be­com­ing con­crete-lined, and the cur­rent prac­tice of fronting build­ings close to the road ac­cen­tu­ates the ab­sence of green­ery.

Must we now rely on the Royal Botan­i­cal Gar­dens, Hid­den Val­ley Park, and LaSalle (not even owned by Burlington) for Alder­shot’s green space? (As an aside, I’ve thor­oughly en­joyed the Wed­nes­day night jazz and blues con­certs at RBG this year.)

Some of these devel­op­ment is­sues will be dealt with shortly by council, along with Car­riage Gate’s 26-storey condo pro­posal op­po­site City Hall. An­other very hot-but­ton is­sue is what hap­pens to the New Street bike lanes. We were told it would be de­cided this fall.

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