Council and residents share concerns over nine-storey proposal

February 17, 2022   ·   0 Comments

By Sam Odrowski

At a recent public meeting where a proposed nine-storey development was brought forward, Orangeville Council members and residents expressed several concerns, sending the developers and architect back to the drawing board.

The nine-storey mixed use building, containing 97 one- and two-bedroom apartments, and 253 parking spots at 33-37 Broadway, was presented by Elite Developments and Weston Consulting last Monday (Feb. 7). The meeting was for information only as no official decisions were made.

Members of the public and Council shared the view that the height as well as design for the development weren’t appropriate for its location at Angel’s Diner and the former Blackout Night Club, as it’s an entrance into town for people travelling west off Hwy 10.

“I look at the design and I don’t want to besmirch the architect who’s on board here, but this does not look like a fitting design for this particular part of Orangeville – or maybe Orangeville period,” said Mayor Sandy Brown.

“I’ve talked to a number of developers over the past three years and I’ve always talked about texture of the design. This looks like big city urban to me, and not a welcoming entry to our town.”

Mayor Brown said he’s in support of more apartment buildings in Town but noted that the height of the nine-storey building is too tall and would block the view from the three-storey and six-storey buildings in its area.

“I would say from the outset, I’m not in favour of that high of a building,” he noted.

Developer’s view on the proposal

With respect to height and density of the nine-storey building proposal, Kayly Robbins of Weston Consulting, speaking on behalf of Elite Developments, said the building would be a new housing type in the low to medium density area it’s located.

“This provides a new housing type while also meeting the needs of more people, and also supports greater affordability by increasing supply and proposing more compact dwelling types,” said Robbins.

“Although the height is greater than the buildings in the area, we feel that it allows for a transition from this building to the adjacent six storey building, which then transitions to three- and two-storey buildings.”

She noted at the end of a presentation she delivered during the meeting that no decisions are final and the meeting is to hear feedback from Council and the public.

“We hope to receive comments to see how we can ensure that this is something the Town

Council and the public can be proud of,” Robbins said.

After Council expressed concerns about the proposal, Robbins noted that Elite Developments and the project team is willing to alter the design if that’s in alignment with the comments they receive.

“So there is flexibility in that, and I just wanted to let Council and the public know that the design you’ve seen is not final, and we as a project team will go back to the drawing board to see how we can address those comments we’ve received,” she added.

Orangeville residents’ concerns

Local resident Donna Bayham called into the public meeting on Feb. 7 and noted that last September, herself and 43 others signed a letter to Council, voicing their concerns over the nine-storey proposal.

Her message was to not change the bylaw on the proposed lands that would permit such a development.

Bayham also noted that there is another application, this time a seven-storey building across from Greystones (61 Broadway), which she opposes.

“Change is not always for the better, and everything does not have to be about money. These future plans affect the people of Orangeville, and our voices matter,” she said.

Fellow Town resident, Joanne Hutchinson said she’s a reasonably new person to Orangeville, having moved here recently, and loves the look of Broadway as it is. She added that there should be limits on heights of buildings in the area where the development is being proposed at a maximum of four- to five-storeys so it can integrate with the rest of Broadway.

Hutchinson also said she’d really hate to lose Angel’s Diner, which will be demolished to allow the proposed development to be built.

Another Orangeville resident, Martina Rowley said she doesn’t feel the nine-storey development is in alignment with the Town’s recently released tourism plan “Love, Orangeville”, as well as its sustainability plan.

She noted that significant amounts of money have been put into public consultation and both plans are based on Orangeville’s “small town feel”, which is why so many residents moved here.

Rowley asked Council how it plans to protect that small town feel in light of the application for the nine-storey development, which she said isn’t in line with the Town’s usual building heights, and building design with it being too sleek, shiny, and glassy.

“[It] also conflicts with the more Victorian and historic building style that we have in our small town,” Rowley noted.

Deputy Mayor Andy Macintosh responded by saying Council will consider everything and no decisions were being made at the Feb. 7 public meeting.

“There’ll probably be more than one meeting before we decide what we’re going to do with this. Whether to accept this,” he noted.

Council’s comments/concerns

Coun. Debbie Sherwood expressed concerns about the aesthetic of the proposed nine-storey building with respect to its location at 33-37 Broadway, which leads into Orangeville’s heritage downtown, travelling west.

“The architectural design of the building would look beautiful in downtown Vancouver, but not downtown Orangeville,” she remarked.

Coun. Sherwood added, “I want to elude you to the fact that we worked very well with the architect that gave us the proposal for the development at the corner of Wellington and Broadway. There they made sure that the building – even though it did not fall into the historical district – they made sure that the architectural design of that building was very complimentary into that historical district.”

In addition to the look of the building, she noted concerns with the height.

“I just don’t think a building that high is going to look really good in that neighborhood. I would say six storeys at the max,” Coun. Sherwood remarked.

She also inquired about the two levels of above ground parking within the development and if they could be put underground to reduce the building’s height.

Larysa Russel, Senior Planner for Orangeville noted in response that due to the high groundwater table of the area where the building is being proposed, the parking has to be above ground.

Coun. Lisa Post said remarks from Town residents and councillors articulated her own concerns quite well with respect to the aesthetic of the proposed building and its height.

However, she did make a positive comment regarding one aspect of the proposed development’s design.

“I’m really appreciative of the work that went into putting the fifth-floor outdoor amenities into the building. I think that that’s a beautiful addition. So, as you’re going back to the drawing board to look at the aesthetics, that would be one thing that I do really like,” said Coun. Post.

Bylaw change needed for development to move forward

The subject lands of the proposed development are zoned neighbourhood commercial in Orangeville’s Zoning Bylaw and would require an amendment to permit the nine-storey development.

Russel said in regards to the development, no concerns were expressed by the fire department, various utility departments, and the school boards regarding the proposal.

However, a peer review of the urban design and a visual study for the development are required.

Kayly Robbins, who spoke on behalf of Elite Developments said various studies have been undertaken to support their proposal, and they will work with the Town to ensure everything is covered moving forward.

The Town’s Joint Accessibility Committee has asked the developer to consider locating accessible parking spaces closer to the proposed commercial area within the development. As well, the local Business Improvement Association (BIA) has asked that some of the outdoor parking be available for public use.

In addition to feedback received at the Feb. 7 meeting, Russel made note of some letters and verbal comments from the public she received prior.

They were similar to what was said at the meeting, with residents expressing that the height, visual appearance of the building, and number of units were concerning. They were seen as too dense, according to Russel.

“Some of the comments suggested that a six-storey building, similar to the one behind the proposed development, would fit better within the neighbourhood. There’s also concerns with the modern design, in terms of a gateway feature into the Orangeville downtown core,” said Russel. “There’s also been concerns with the amount of parking in terms of the appearance. Traffic is also a concern in terms of increased traffic in an already busy area.”

Other concerns she noted were spill over for parking onto adjacent properties and the removal of established commercial uses on the property.

“Since preparing this presentation we’ve also received concerns regarding existing flooding in the area,” Russel added.

She said next steps for the Town’s planning division is to await a revised submission of the development from the developers and prepare a recommendation for Council on whether it should be approved or how to proceed.

Council ended the Feb. 7 public meeting by receiving everyone’s comments as information and concluded the meeting with a bylaw to confirm the meeting’s proceedings.

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