The good and bad of a changing Aldershot
My biggest criticism of intense residential complexes today is the lack of green space
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.