Public consultation held over townhouse proposal on York Street

June 20, 2024   ·   0 Comments


One of the architects who designed the proposed housing development for York Street says the new structures will not affect the streetscape.

That was an assertion made during a meeting at Orangeville Town Hall as part of the public consultation process on June 17.

The proponents, who are the property’s owners, are asking council to amend the town’s Official Plan and Zoning Bylaw for the property at 11A York Street. It is situated on the south side of York Street, west of John Street and north of Kaycee Gardens.

As part of the proposal, an existing single-storey dwelling on the property would be removed to make way for the private driveway providing access to the townhouse units.

The Official Plan amendment seeks to re-designate the property from low-density residential to low-density multiple.

Some York Street residents have lobbied against the proposal and are in favour of designating the neighbourhood a Housing Conservation District.

Mayor Lisa Post said the meeting was merely “an exercise in information gathering” and council never intended to vote for or against the zoning changes as many people believed would happen.

Public consultation is an integral part of the planning process, Post said.

Mark Hicks, an architect with D+H Architects and an Orangeville resident for more than 30 years, said the proposal entails a pair of three-storey townhouse blocks. There will be seven units in the west side block and five units in the east side block.

“In no way are we affecting the streetscape along York Street,” Hicks said. “Both the north and the south side will be fully preserved with the exception of 11A being removed, which is not very visible because it is set back so far from the streetscape itself.”

Councillor Andy Macintosh wondered what impact the housing development would have on current municipal water supply issues. The town is coping with supply and storage shortages.

“For a smaller development like this, it wouldn’t be an issue for the water capacity,” said Tim Kocialek, the town’s infrastructure services general manager. “With a lot of it, we were having issues with the summer peak flows and that’s one of the reasons we are trying to control lawn watering.”

Richard Oliver said the development goes against the neighbourhood’s character. Further, the work would contravene aspects of the Official Plan pertaining to infill and intensification.

“It is out of character and out of place in this historic neighbourhood,” he said. “It is radically different from anything nearby.”

Oliver urged council to reject the proposal and uphold its municipal Official Plan.

Linda Patterson and her daughter have lived on York Street for more than 20 years. She said she resents how the town uses her neighbourhood in promotional tourism campaigns as an example of historic charm without doing anything meaningful to protect that charm.

“There is not one York Street resident who did not choose to live here, whether 70 years ago or last year,” she said. “The street is appreciated by many other residents in town as well as our growing tourist audience.”

And she said the proposed townhouses would not be the solution to the housing crisis in Orangeville. She wondered if an environmental assessment has been completed to consider how noise and light pollution would affect wildlife in Kaycee Gardens and Mill Creek.

“We are not building communities like York anymore,” Patterson said. “They are unique and precious. Once they are gone, you cannot get them back. The decision is not reversable.”

Wayne Townsend, a local historian, said introducing new people to the neighbourhood would worsen difficulties with on-street parking and cause traffic congestion. The views and privacy of current residents will be compromised.

The vibration caused by heavy equipment during construction might damage some of the older houses nearby, he said.

Spencer Finch has lived on York Street for 39 years and 53 years in downtown Orangeville. He worked most of his adult life with Dufferin County Children’s Aid and as a social services administrator.

Finch said he garnered many awards and much kudos during his working life for his volunteerism and helping to make Orangeville a great place for everybody to live.

“I was not anticipating to be brushed aside in my final days of contributing and living across the road from a new intersection,” he said of the private road that will be constructed to access the townhouse development.

“Canada is pushing for affordable housing for families, but does that mean you shove it (housing) anywhere?” Finch said.

“The joy of living on York Street is living on the street,” said resident John Woolner. “What about views from backyards and Kaycee Gardens?”

“This proposal represents an over-development of the site,” said York Street resident Steve Scott. “It’s incompatible within the context of this low density residential area. It’s incompatible with the heritage and historical nature of the neighbourhood.”

He said the development would represent a rate of growth 61 per cent more than what is permitted for the area in the town’s and Dufferin County’s Official Plans.

Mary Jane Gerber said the development would compromise the peaceful aspects of nearby Kaycee Gardens for many people.

“It is a gem and a treasure,” she said. “And this development will have a significant negative impact on it. It will tower over that park.”

Ted Gerber has lived next to 11A York Street for 37 years and he said he respects the work of D+H Architects, but he’s opposed to the townhouse development because it’s simply too much.

“It’s too high, too long, too wide, too deep, too many,” Gerber said. “Three storey townhouses don’t fit the existing character or look and feel of the neighbourhood.”

There are three-storey houses on the street, but those are single-family dwellings. Townhouse complexes won’t fit, Gerber said.

“I don’t think it fits the character,” he said. “I’m in favour of gentle intensification. New homes are great. They benefit us, but it needs to be handled with utmost care.”

Much was said about concerns for municipal water supply and how the housing development will affect it.

“We have a serious issue here,” said one York Street resident. “Peak summer demand is an issue now.”

“Right now we’re doing a lot of work trying to gain capacity in the wells,” Kocialek said, and added that redrilling Well 6 is being considered.

“If catastrophic failure happened and two or three of the wells went out, we’d have to look at more strict restrictions similar to what they did in Calgary,” Kocialek said.

Calgary residents were recently without water after the municipal system broke down.

“What’s occurring to me is we need to bring back a report on the water supply,” said David Smith, the town’s CAO. “There is a lot of misinformation that has been cut and parsed in different vehicles and different forms on the water supply.”

“I agree with having a heritage assessment, but I don’t think it goes far enough,” said Coun. Tess Prendergast. “I think we also need an environmental impact assessment.”

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