Mono Council defers action on proposals for Tai Chi Centre

February 17, 2016   ·   0 Comments

Mono Council decided Tuesday to defer action until its next meeting on a committee’s recommendation that it oppose plans for an enlarged cemetery and two archways at the Tai Chi Centre on 5 Sideroad at Airport Road.

Following a meeting held Feb. 2, the Town’s Planning and Environmental Advisory Committee recommended that Council not support an application to the Niagara Escarpment Commission (NEC) for a development permit allowing construction of pedestrian and vehicular archways and an above-ground columbarium with more than 15,000 niches.

The committee suggested that the “size and scale” of the vehicular archway should be reduced; that the project should not include a separate pedestrian archway; that the vehicular archway should “utilize earth tones only” and not include lighting. As for the cemetery, it should involve a “phasing plan” and a “detailed Landscape Plan for the lands along 5 Sideroad … to minimize the visual impact of the columbarium features and driveway improvements from neighboring residents and vehicular traffic,” and should also not have any lighting.

The committee was advised that the two NEC applications would permit a revision from the 1,575-plot in-ground cemetery approved in 1987, to include 15,134 above-ground columbarium niches, plus the pedestrian and vehicular archways.

At the Feb. 2 meeting, architect Louis Cheung made a presentation on behalf of the applicant Fung Loy Kok Institute of Taoism, noting that the current cemetery lands are open and have little landscaping.

“He envisions a more holistic parkland setting, incorporating forest, stone and water features for visitors to the cemetery,” the committee said in its report to Council. “Benches and landscape features would be incorporated into the setting. This would be similar to a UNESCO World Heritage site cemetery in Stockholm … which he recently visited.

“The main vehicular archway would be set back approximately 23 metres from the road, which will help maintain mature trees on the property, will provide screening and minimize visual intrusion of the proposed archway. It should only be visible along 5 Sideroad as a driver approaches the entranceway. An increase of the driveway to 7 metres from the current 6 metres is proposed which will maintain the existing trees along the entranceway, provide for safer ingress and egress along the driveway, and provide a better proportion to the archway.

The pedestrian archway is located closer to Airport Road at an existing gate into the property and will provide a pedestrian access point to the property.”

In response to questions posed by the committee, Mr. Cheung and two directors of the Institute said there had been 24 in-ground interments to date in an area that would not be used for the columbariums.

At Tuesday’s session, Council heard submissions from both the Institute and several residents who voiced opposition to the proposal.

In one letter to council, a family member living across 5 Sideroad said the development as proposed “will have an undeniably negative impact on my family’s and our neighbours’ quality of life, our property values, local traffic conditions and road use, the current character of the community, and the sensitive environment of this Niagara Escarpment micro-region.”

By Tom Claridge

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