ELORA – A new retirement residence may be on the horizon for Fergus.
Centre Wellington held a public meeting on Jan. 21 to address the proposed bylaw amendment for 820 St. David Street North.
Numbered company 2407484 Ontario Inc. is seeking an exception to the commercial C2 zoning to permit the development of a six-storey retirement residence.
The applicant’s planner, Nick Dell, explained the residence would be aimed at people aged 65 to 89. By 2026, he said, there will be about 50,000 people in this age bracket living in the region.
“This application seeks to help that demand, service that demand,” said Dell.
The property is in a commercial area at the corner of St. David Street North and Strathallan Street that includes an Esso gas station, Tim Hortons and Best Western hotel.
“A retirement residence is not a permitted use,” Dell said. “We’ve done the special section in the existing highway commercial just to permit specifically what we’re asking for here, which is a six-storey retirement residence with 80 units only.”
The proposed building would be 16 by 32 metres; the lot size is 122 by 99m.
The township bylaw states buildings can not exceed four storeys, so if the amendment is approved, the retirement residence would be the highest residential building in Centre Wellington, explained Brett Salmon, managing director of planning and development.
However, even if the proposed bylaw amendment is approved, the application still requires future site plan approval.
“I may get permission to build it but if the hard work in terms of the water table, fire department, storm water management and so forth … don’t get approved I can’t build,” Dell said.
He added, “So this is a way to pave forward to see if those harder site plan studies can be reviewed.”
Three members of the public objected to the proposal at the meeting.
Rob Jorna, Kevin Shannon and Helen Henderson raised concerns about the plan’s proposed parking: one spot for every two units.
Jorna raised concerns about overflow parking spilling onto Strathallan Street and impacting St. Joseph Catholic school as well as about the requirement of just two handicap parking spots.
Shannon said he is concerned about the location of the parking spots along the fence line.
“The bylaw states parking spots must be 10 feet from any lot line,” he said. “This is of particular concern because this is our property line.
“Every time someone locks their car door we’re going to have to listen to a horn honk, no matter the time of day or night.”
Henderson said she is concerned about parking as well as increased traffic.
“I live on Strathallan Street and sometimes it’s almost impossible to get out of our driveway because the traffic is too dense and it’s not safe for some of the children coming and leaving school,” she said.
Another concern was the shadow the building would cast.
“A structure this size will block the sun and put our houses in substantial shade for extended times of the year and also the front playground of the school,” Shannon said.
Jorna indicated he’d done his own sun calculation and shadow study.
“The building will create a shadow parallel to Strathallan Street which is more than 100 metres in length,” he said.
Councillor Stephen Kitras also questioned whether a shadow study was completed.
“The shadow study was only done in one view of the building which was as it spilled onto Strathallan,” Dell said.
“That was done at not an equinox time of the year. So a more thorough one has not been submitted.”
Councillor Ian MacRae brought up the issue of wind.
“One of the concerns I have given the height of the building, looking at the surrounding wind fetch, you are presenting [the residents] to potential wind problems around the base of the building,” said MacRae.
“So I’m wondering if that would be something you’d consider looking at?”
Dell said the applicants hadn’t yet, but they could look at the potential impacts of wind.
Some other concerns included:
– whether the retirement residence fit with the small-town feel of Fergus;
– inaccurate information;
– fire protection capabilities;
– impact on private wells;
– increased traffic;
– density requirements; and
Dell said many of these concerns would not be addressed until the site plan approval process.
As this was a public meeting, no decision was made by council.