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LETTER: Welland Rd. condo proposal affects not just immediate neighbours

'Affordable housing in the Town of Pelham, especially within the village of Fonthill, is a myth'

PelhamToday received the following letter to the editor from a reader regarding the proposed condo development at 105 Welland Rd.:

I would like to clarify a few items and add a few notes so that the January 16 planning meeting is viewed in a better perspective in addition to and above and beyond what the PelhamToday news article illustrated [Fonthill neighbours protest proposed six-storey building at planning meeting, Local News, Jan. 17].

It is an understatement to say the proposed development at 105 Welland Rd. is controversial. The development on the Concordia Lutheran Church property does not fit in with the existing neighbourhood in any way you look at it. The developer Stephen Kaiser and the co-applicant Niagara Innovative Living have been working on this proposal for two years or so, and at no time did they engage the public to get their thoughts. If it was not for the hard work of some citizens, only a handful of many that will be negatively affected would have known about this proposal and would have been hugely impacted on the quality of their life.

Current outdated and inadequate notification requirements of a maximum of 120 meters to the nearest property line from any near point of a proposal property line is all the residents which the Town needs to notify to meet their planning review obligations. Certainly, the influence of such a project is much larger than that, since over 600 signatures have been received going door-to-door by some very dedicated residents, and that number continues to grow.

In the article, Stephen Kaiser, owner of Kaiser and Associates, said he understood neighbours’ worries, but that he has been “hearing from detractors to development in Pelham since 1986.” A lot has happened since 1986, and if Stephen Kaiser had engaged the citizens of the area with such a proposal, he might have come away with an approval due to working with the community in a positive manner.

At the January 16 meeting, one of the speakers, being myself, invited Stephen Kaiser to engage the local community. To date that has not happened, and I have not heard from Stephen Kaiser, Upper Canada Consulting, or David Braun of the Concordia Lutheran Church.

The article also noted that “Council members voted unanimously to receive the information at the meeting. While no decision on the development is imminent, given past experience, shooting down the plan outright would likely cost the Town on the order of $50,000 to $80,000 in a losing battle at the Ontario Land Tribunal.”

Well, over 600 signatures and counting also pay taxes and feel this is a good use of their tax dollars.

The opposition to this project is not against development, but rather we are in favour of appropriate and positive development and are opposed to this development. The Town of Pelham Official Plan states, “The primary purpose of the Official Plan is to provide the basis for managing growth that will support and emphasize the Town’s unique character, diversity, civic identity, rural lifestyle and heritage features and to do so in a way that has a positive impact on the quality of life and health for the citizens who live and work.”

This proposed development is completely opposite to this statement as evidenced by the magnitude of opposition and reaction to the application.

The province’s Bill 23 “More Homes Built Faster Act,” better known to many as “build houses way too fast act” or “build wherever you want act,” should not provide a blank cheque to developers to burn over the landscape. My guess is that most residents in Fonthill moved here for the quieter and relaxed environment a town of this size brings. Affordable housing in the Town of Pelham, especially within the village of Fonthill, is a myth and there is no support by land values to create the affordable housing scenario.

The Concordia Lutheran Church must also take responsibility for some of the results their actions may produce. A place of worship should be inviting and safe for all, a place to bring the stress of everyday to a tolerable level. Instead, they have left countless homeowners without sleep for many nights, and seem to disregard the impact they have on the geographic community they live in.

Now is the time to fight the government’s poorly laid out plan to meet housing requirements. Everyone deserves a right to live somewhere, and everyone should have the ability to live where you can, and that depends on so much if you can afford the location you want. That’s why I do not live in Toronto or a like city, because I can not afford to nor do I want to, so don’t push that onto the current taxpaying citizens that will be impacted, who have worked hard to build up the equity in the place they choose to reside.

Now is the time to form more landowners’ associations and make the bureaucrats hear our message. We currently are seeking those that want to join such a group by writing an email to [email protected].

Georgio Panici