Re­tire­ment home re­mains di­vi­sive

The Sudbury Star - - FRONT PAGE - MARY KATHER­INE KEOWN

De­spite ve­he­ment op­po­si­tion from its fu­ture neigh­bours, the neigh­bour­hood of Moon­glo will likely be get­ting a se­niors’ re­tire­ment com­plex along Moonrock Av­enue.

The On­tario Mu­nic­i­pal Board de­liv­ered its de­ci­sion on Oct. 6 al­low­ing the devel­op­ment to pro­ceed.

“In con­clu­sion, the board finds that the zon­ing by­law amend­ment con­forms to the growth plan for north­ern On­tario, that it is con­sis­tent with the poli­cies of the provin­cial pol­icy state­ment and that on bal­ance, it is con­sis­tent with the city’s of­fi­cial plan,” Justin Dun­can said in his de­ci­sion. “Ad­di­tion­ally, the board finds that the hold­ing pro­vi­sion that ex­isted un­der prior zon­ing can be lifted and does not need to be car­ried for­ward into the zon­ing by­law amend­ment.

“As a re­sult, the board finds that the ap­peal should be al­lowed and the zon­ing by­law amend­ment ap­proved. The lan­guage of the zon­ing by­law amend­ment has some mi­nor de­tails to be added, in­clud­ing a by­law num­ber and spe­cific zon­ing and para­graph num­bers to be in­serted.”

The devel­oper, a num­bered com­pany, 1789682 On­tario Lim­ited, went be­fore the plan­ning com­mit­tee last year, seek­ing re­zon­ing in or­der to build a three-storey re­tire­ment com­plex on a 12-hectare prop­erty, in con­junc­tion with Au­tum­n­wood Ma­ture Life­style Com­mu­ni­ties. It would in­clude 144 in­de­pen­dentliv­ing apart­ments, as well as 108 as­sisted-liv­ing quar­ters, and would see the con­ver­sion of 23 per cent of the prop­erty into park­land. The pro­posal also called for space to es­tab­lish med­i­cal of­fices, as well as 272 park­ing spa­ces.

Ward 5 Coun. Robert Kir­wan took to his Val­ley East Face­book page to ex­press his plea­sure with the OMB’s de­ci­sion. He was one of three coun­cil­lors who orig­i­nally voted to grant re­zon­ing when it went be­fore coun­cil. Ward 4 Coun. Eve­lyn Dutrisac and Ward 11 Coun. Lynne Reynolds also gave re­zon­ing the thumbs up.

“The rest of coun­cil chose to go against staff’s rec­om­men­da­tion and voted against the devel­op­ment,” Kir­wan said on Face­book. “The or­der of the OMB should be an en­cour­ag­ing sign for other de­vel­op­ers who have an in­ter­est in build­ing multi-res­i­den­tial com­plexes for se­niors. It is also en­cour­ag­ing for the city’s com­mu­nity devel­op­ment depart­ment, which is work­ing on a com­mu­nity hub strat­egy and will be seek­ing to turn Pinecrest Pub­lic School into a com­mu­nity hub and se­niors’ re­tire­ment com­plex in the near fu­ture.

“Once a suc­cess­ful tem­plate is es­tab­lished at Pinecrest, that process can be ap­plied to fu­ture sur­plus schools so that we in­crease our in­ven­tory of af­ford­able rental ac­com­mo­da­tion for se­niors.”

Kir­wan said the OMB de­ci­sion her­alds in a new era that will pro­mote more se­nior-friendly hous­ing in Sud­bury and make the city more age-friendly.

“We live in a new era and in or­der to ac­com­mo­date the need for more af­ford­able hous­ing and to pro­vide nec­es­sary ser­vices to our ag­ing pop­u­la­tion, sta­tus quo is not an op­tion,” he said. “The de­ci­sion by the OMB will have a pro­found im­pact on how the city of Greater Sud­bury de­vel­ops mov­ing for­ward. We must now de­clare that we are open to mak­ing the city more age-friendly and that we en­dorse the ag­ing in place strat­egy.”

But Jimmy Tra­passo, a res­i­dent of Moon­glo, ex­pressed con­cern Wed­nes­day with the vol­ume and speed of traf­fic the devel­op­ment will bring with it, es­pe­cially with re­spect to heavy trucks, as well as wa­ter pres­sure, which he said is al­ready in­suf­fi­cient.

“I’m not op­posed to the se­niors’ devel­op­ment. What I’m op­posed to is the safety as­pect of it and the tech­ni­cal as­pects of it,” he said. “Ob­vi­ously traf­fic will in­crease. There’s only one en­trance.”

Tra­passo said the wa­ter sup­ply to the Moon­glo neigh­bour­hood is in­ad­e­quate. Adding to the load will fur­ther erode the ser­vice and will cost tax­pay­ers sig­nif­i­cant money.

“We’re go­ing to dou­ble the size of Moon­glo into one small devel­op­ment,” he said. “We’re go­ing to have at least 700 peo­ple liv­ing there. How are we go­ing to get one wa­ter pipe to feed that devel­op­ment? The rest of Moon­glo is spread out and we don’t have ad­e­quate wa­ter pres­sure now. That was a main con­cern.”

Ward 1 Coun. Mark Sig­noretti, whose ward will in­clude the re­tire­ment com­plex, said he feels de­flated and dis­ap­pointed by the OMB’s de­ci­sion.

“The res­i­dents brought for­ward a lot of good in­for­ma­tion, as well as a few peo­ple who had knowl­edge of the laws – you have very ed­u­cated peo­ple up in Moon­glo,” Sig­noretti said Wed­nes­day. “It’s not just about my back­yard, it’s about fac­tual in­for­ma­tion they brought for­ward. … They did bring ex­cel­lent in­for­ma­tion for­ward and un­for­tu­nately the OMB didn’t see it that way.”

The neigh­bour­hood is “100 per cent res­i­den­tial,” Sig­noretti said and re­tire­ment com­plexes should be lo­cated nearer to main ar­ter­ies, where there are more ser­vices and ameni­ties for se­niors.

“If you look at a large por­tion of the other re­tire­ment fa­cil­i­ties, they’re all close to a ma­jor artery. They’re not trav­el­ling through a res­i­den­tial area,” he said. “There are safety con­cerns and traf­fic con­cerns.”

Among Sig­noretti’s con­cerns is the lack of pub­lic tran­sit in Moon­glo. There are city buses trav­el­ling up and down Re­gent Street, but the clos­est bus stop ap­pears to be near the in­ter­sec­tion of Tel­star Av­enue and Re­gent Street. That is a walk of about 1 km up or down a hill. That could be dif­fi­cult for se­nior cit­i­zens, es­pe­cially dur­ing the win­ter months.

“The myth out there is that we’re against se­niors and se­nior devel­op­ment; we’re not against that,” Sig­noretti said. “I know our city is ag­ing and I get that and we do need se­nior fa­cil­i­ties, but in the right lo­ca­tions for se­niors. My con­cern is not just for the res­i­dents of Moon­glo, but for the se­niors.”

He is also con­cerned about traf­fic, since many of the fam­i­lies liv­ing in Moon­glo have young chil­dren who play on the streets.

“Peo­ple go up there be­cause they like the area, they know there’s a safety fac­tor, they’re not con­cerned with their kids cross­ing the road be­cause they know it’s lo­cal traf­fic,” Sig­noretti said. “Now you’re go­ing to in­tro­duce emer­gency ve­hi­cles, med­i­cal ve­hi­cles, ser­vice ve­hi­cles and de­liv­ery trucks. The road, in my opin­ion, is not de­signed to sup­port that. The in­fra­struc­ture is not there to sup­port that.”

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