- by Anne Finlay-Stewart, Editor

Another housing project is going to a public meeting at city council on Monday, this one a proposed 477 units between the back of the Owen Sound hospital and the back of Walmart/Home Depot.

sydenhamheightsPhase 1 includes two four-storey apartment buildings for a total of 156 units and 87 townhouse units. The developer is asking for changes to both the Official Plan and the Zoning By-law, to bring the property from low-density to high-density residential.

There is no disagreement in our community about the need for more housing in Owen Sound, with a rental vacancy rate of no more than 1%. Ironically, the subject property has held tent encampments of unhoused Owen Sounders over the past few seasons.

The proposal would bring the number of housing units at some stage of approvals in that south-east corner of the City to approximately 1,880, of which 210 have been built and another estimated 100 pre-builds have been sold.

The County of Grey supports intensification and more housing in urban areas, and their Planning and Development department has brought several recommendations forward concerning this development.

From their comments (beginning at page 5):

Re: transportation

“County Transportation Services have reviewed the submitted Traffic Impact Study and have indicated that given the number of proposed or approved developments on
surrounding properties, the County is considering the development of a round-about at the intersection of 8th Street East and the proposed extension of 20th Avenue East.”

The County also recommends reconsideration of the use of cul-de-sacs which provide challenges for snow removal, garbage collection, cyclists and pedestrians.

Re: affordability

“The intended price point of the proposed units and ownership model of the lands are currently unclear (ie: staff are unclear whether the site would be reserved purely for
rental housing, or whether a Plan of Condominium and/or Subdivision application would be forthcoming). That said, the County’s Housing Department remains open to
discussions regarding partnership opportunities to rent some units below market rate, to accommodate lower-income residents in need of housing.

"Since 2019, the County’s waitlist for subsidized housing has increased significantly. Staff would note that robust and cohesive communities cater to the affordability constraints of a wide array of residents. The County would encourage the applicant to have further conversation with City and County staff in this respect. Given the location of the subject lands in relation to a wide array of employment opportunities and community services, these lands are ideally located to accommodate affordable housing opportunities.”

Re: environment

The site is mere meters from the hospital property that Neighbourwoods North has been planting with saplings over the last several years. The County recognizes the impact of tree removal and paving of the subject property:

“Given the extent of the wooded area proposed to be removed, County staff would recommend that a future landscaping plan be undertaken with emphasis on how and where new trees can be planted throughout the site at a development stage. From a climate-change perspective, trees play an important role in sequestering carbon in soils, and County Council has committed to reducing green-house gas emissions into the future.”

Grey County has also recommended “A fulsome review of site servicing and stormwater management be undertaken at a future application stage”.

Re: Chapman House

The Grey-Bruce Hospice has made some respectful enquiries about the stormwater plans too, as Chapman House is built as slab on grade (no basement) at the bottom of the slope on which the development is being built. There are currently three drains in their property, and since they opened in 2017, they have had no flooding or drainage issues.

Given the height of the new buildings and the “private outdoor amenity area at south western corner of site” the hospice and Grey County have also asked the City to consider the privacy of their residents' rooms and outdoor patios, and offered some possible options to respect their dignity.

Those who will live in this new development will be Owen Sound taxpayers as all city residents are, whether they pay municipal property taxes directly or through their rent. One City service other taxpayers enjoy will not be offered to these new residents; they'll certainly be paying for garbage collection, but not through taxes or bag tags.

The staff report says: “The City will not collect garbage and blue box materials from the units in this development. The Developer must make arrangements with a private waste management contractor for the on-site deposition, collection, and disposal of these materials.”

 Full agenda item here:


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