A lengthy and passionate debate regarding a potential new development on 9 Bayside Place was overturned by council, as four councilors were opposed to the new building while three were in favor.
The discussion centred around a potential three-story 12 metre tall townhouse complex, which would create 60 new townhouses to help provide affordable property.
The initial development plans were brought forward by Live Well Communities inc. and NewRock Developments, and Town of Strathmore's Manager of Development Services Chuck Procter believed the new townhouses would address the big need for affordable housing in Strathmore, while also addressing the current shortage in available renting properties. On top of that, Procter said the location is very close to many amenities, making it an ideal spot to build new units.
While most would agree Strathmore needs more housing and affordable options, this proposition was met with concern from many community members who neighbour the plot, as they pointed out there would be many problems that came with it. These included but were not limited to:
- The height of the building. While community members were initially told it would be a two-story building, many felt blindsided when they learned it would actually be three. This led to privacy concerns, as you would be able to see into peoples' backyards and potentially into their homes because of the added height.
- Increased traffic, congestion, and lack of parking.
- Increased noise.
After hearing community feedback, council debated whether or not amending land use bylaw no.14-11 would be the right move, as the amendment would allow this building's construction to begin.
Mayor Pat Fule is in favor of more housing options and creating affordable housing in Strathmore, but ultimately couldn't support this development for the potential problems it would cause for people who already live there.
"I just don't feel this development, with its density, traffic flow into Bayside Place, and the height of the buildings in an established area of housing, warrants me voting in favor of amending this bylaw. We need achievable housing but this design on this site is something I can't support," Fule said.
Councilor Brent Wiley was one of three councilors in favor of the building, saying he understood the concerns of those who spoke against it who currently live in the area, but he thought of all the people it could help, as well as all those who may not have been able to advocate for themselves.
"In the 18 months I've been in council I've met many people who can't afford a place in town and they're coming out from Calgary to work here. We've met business owners who can't find employees because they can't find people who can work here because they can't live here. First-generation Canadians and low-income families can not find homes in Strathmore, there's a massive shortage of rental units," Wiley said.
Councilor Denise Peterson also supported the new building, and she explained she's had the lived experience on the other side. She said she had to watch as land around her property started building more living spaces and increasing traffic, but the benefits of creating affordable housing far outweighed the negative impacts it had on her life.
"We sit today with absolutely zero affordable places for people to live in this community, we have none. We have an imminent population of 1500 looking to come here, and where are we going to put them?" she said.
Several councilors also noted this is the only group in the last five years to commit to building a project like this, so the Town shouldn't continue to put red tape around building housing and limit opportunities.
Ultimately, amending the land use bylaw was voted against, as Mayor Fule, Councilors Wegener, Montgomery. and Mitzner all saw the negative impacts on the people who already live there as too steep a price to pay. Councilors Peterson, Wiley, and Langmaid all voted in favor, believing the town needs to create affordable housing as soon as possible.
While the council is split on this specific issue, they all agreed on one thing: Strathmore needs more affordable housing. Mayor Fule and several others remain open to the possibility of building something on 9 Bayside Place, so it is still possible living units could be built there after modifications to the plans are made.
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