Thursday, May 12 2022

A housing project in James Bay has been approved, following a public hearing where some residents expressed concerns, including the loss of mature trees.

The units, located at 110 Menzies Street, 111 Croft Street and 450-458 Niagara Street, will consist of four-story buildings along the street, with an additional six-story building set back from the street front.

When complete, it will bring approximately 137 rental units to the neighborhood, triple the number of units currently on the site.

However, some residents have expressed concern about the loss of trees for the construction of this project. For the project, 23 trees would have to be felled, including seven flowering plum trees.

Prior to the council meeting, residents expressed their concerns about the loss of the plum trees.

Greg Mitchell, senior development manager at Primex, said that since the trees had to be felled, the design was changed to ensure enough space for sufficient root zones, so that replacement trees could be planted.

Mitchell says part of the goal of the project is to build a wider sidewalk to improve accessibility in the neighborhood, which is why the plum trees should be cut down.

“The existing sidewalk is quite narrow. I’ve certainly read comments that people in wheelchairs have difficulty going through this or have to do it very carefully,” Mitchell said. “The idea was to create a much more pedestrian-friendly and lively streetscape.”

He says the street plum trees will be replaced, but the type of trees that will be replanted is yet to be determined.

“These trees are not very healthy. They are beautiful. An arborist report identifies these trees as being in good condition with numerous structural defects and at least four of them are suffering from a rotting pathogen that can cause structural problems and long-term tree failure,” Mitchell said. “We understand this sentiment and look forward to planting new trees in accordance with the City Boulevard Tree Program.”

“The city will choose which tree species will replace these here.”

In addition, the plan calls for the planting of 68 trees to replace the 23 that will be felled.

Some additional features the building will include are a courtyard with a dog play area, rooftop residence space, bicycle parking, cargo bike parking, and community gardens.

Since the building will require tenants to move out of the existing building, the city is asking the developer to help relocate tenants, as well as offering tenants the right to return to one of the new units at below-market rents.

To date, the developer has helped 23 tenants move out and is working with the remaining 10.

Councilors voted unanimously to support this project, although many expressed concerns about the project.

Com. Ben Isitt said that while he supported the project, he feared the units would replace existing buildings with “deeply affordable” rents.

Com. Geoff Young noted that council had received a lot of correspondence raising concerns about trees. He says people should contact the council about it to request an update to the tree preservation policies.

“In my view, the first line of our tree preservation policy for the town should be something along the lines of preserving traditional flowering tree landscapes through the proper replacement of downed trees, where local residents support a such preservation,” Young said, noting the policy instead. prioritizes native trees, fruit trees, high canopy trees, and non-allergenic trees.

At the close of the meeting, Mayor Lisa Helps indicated that this development permit would come back to council for adoption at a future meeting.

“Let’s put them in front of us as soon as possible so that construction costs don’t increase further,” she said.

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