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Monday’s Open House for the Cole’s site redevelopment saw an overflowing “Zoom room” from resident delegations, leading to a reset of the Town’s live-streaming system. Frustrations ran high, with many delegates not being able to get heard or leaving the meeting. Clearly, the Town needs to find a better solution to conduct large public meetings online.
Despite technical difficulties, the message sent from the community was unanimous and clear: this type of development does not belong on Grimsby’s Main Street East. This application needs to go back to the drawing board and small-scale options must be considered to balance development with the streetscape character and surrounding buildings. Traffic, safety, affordable housing were other very important issues brought forward by residents who didn’t hold back their objections and displeasure with this proposal.
The event was posted on the Town’s video platform at: https://vimeo.com/grimsbycouncilchambers.
If you didn’t get your chance to speak Monday night, fear not: you will have another opportunity at the Statutory Public meeting, ahead of the final recommendations from Planning staff and the decisive Council vote.
Kudos to all residents who got involved and sent letters to Town Hall, called their Councillor and lined up to speak at this Open House. As Councillor Vardy mentioned, she received nearly 150 letters against this development. If your letter was not listed on the Open House Agenda please send it to us at email@example.com and we’ll publish it on our website.
The Zoom application glitches didn’t spare our delegation either. We finally got to deliver our presentation after a third attempt, with Town’s staff and Mayor Jeff Jordan giving us a chance to solve some of the issues. A nice gesture from Councillor Dave Sharpe who offered to put us on through his phone speaker if the gremlins at our end kept running amok. Thank you!
For those who missed our presentation, we included it below in video and reading format:
Good evening Mayor Jordan and members of the public.
I represent the citizens’ group SaveMainStreet, here to express our concerns regarding this development.
We share the common goals of protecting Main Street’s historic character and scenic features while maintaining the small-town feel of Grimsby and the livable community of which we are all so proud. These goals of SaveMainStreet are not that far from the Town’s Official Plan’s Vision Statement and two priorities set by current Council: Heritage Protection and Responsible Development. As presented, this proposal respects neither.
Here are just a few of our concerns with this application:
Mass and scale of development
The application fails to demonstrate how the scale and massing of this development is in keeping with the character of the surrounding neighbourhood or whether the height of this building is appropriate for the area.
Such development is an over-intensification of the site. The subject lands are not being considered by the applicant as part of a stable residential neighbourhood, but they are not part of any recognized intensification area either.
That “significantly greater density” as recognized in the applicant’s own Planning Justification Report is double the maximum permitted in any High Density Residential Area designations. Its height is almost three times more than what is currently allowed.
Although the Town may permit densities and heights that reflect those of the High-Density Residential Areas through approved Secondary Plans, this area is not in any existing Secondary Plan.
In addition, this building is adjacent to a medium density residential neighbourhood of one storey dwellings, and it also needs to comply with all development criteria for apartment buildings.
The Planning Justification Report says that the development “respects the existing and emerging build-form and character of Main Street East”.
We cannot agree with this statement when THIS is the existing built form that dominates and has defined the character of this historic street for the last 200 years:
This is NOT Grimsby’s Main Street East.
And what about the emerging form that this application is using as a model?
This is not Grimsby’s Main Street East either.
This application has been heavily opposed by residents and NOT approved by Council vote. In fact, the Town is expected to argue against it at the next LPAT hearing in October this year.
We most strongly suggest that the applicant reconsider his submission and come back with a proposal in accordance with the limits set within the existing zoning by-law. That would allow for intensified development as mandated through the Provincial Policy Statement AND in a manner that would be respectful of Grimsby’s small-town character and heritage features of Main Street East. A lower intensified development would enhance services in the area and also not compete with the function or range of uses provided by the Downtown.
Even though the existing zoning allows commercial use, it’s still part of the “Grimsby Main Street Scenic Highway Heritage Route”. The Grimsby Special Places document doesn’t exclude this site, nor other nearby properties from the heritage landscapes recognized or not in this application. This is strengthened by Grimsby’s Official Plan Section 26. - Streetscape Design Policies 7.3.1 c), which requires additional setbacks along Main Street outside of the Downtown District. For example, the newer commercial developments across the street were required to conform with this design policy, and do not set a “new standard” for the area. This entire development must also be required to respect that policy.
Communities that cherish their heritage are using their history as a catalyst for both economic development and community improvement. The two historic buildings on this site have been part of Main Street East for more than 130 years contributing to our distinctive sense of place. They may not be THE most important buildings in our town, but if the applicant was to show respect for our heritage, they could certainly be restored and reused as commercial space. They would help maintain and enhance the character of Main Street East, along with new development on the site, within zoning limits.
These two historic buildings are known as successful businesses beyond Grimsby’s borders. This is perhaps an opportunity to continue that history, maintain our sense of place and fill a market need fuelled by families in search for larger live-work spaces. These could be a few sensible alternatives in the form of live-work townhomes:
We are confident that Mr. Losani’s planners and architects are competent and able to create something even better. A proposal that blends in and enhances this historic part of Grimsby.
Losani Homes has demonstrated in past a corporate culture of respecting Grimsby’s heritage. The Toronto Star published the following quote from their founder in September 2010:
“I live in Grimsby and on Main St. you get that same sense, where the architecture is appreciated and nurtured, and we wanted to do something that pays tribute to it, especially since it’s shaped the architecture of our new homes and is emblematic of the historic architecture in our environment.”
Could we have THAT Mr. Losani back please?
Send us your thoughts and we’ll publish them right here for everyone to see: