In what would best be described as the “lightning round”, the meeting of Council on March 6 saw little more than the review of correspondence received and some brief discussion on some planning matters.
All in attendance received the gift of time, as the Council meeting adjourned in just 40 minutes.
Substance returned to the agenda on March 20th to an overcapacity audience in Council chambers. The Library’s CEO Crystal Bergstrom, presented a deputation detailing the creation of new space within the facility now available to local community support groups to reach the homeless, those with mental health issues, etc., to aid with the delivery of those programs free of charge to those organizations.
Staff presented the roll out of Midland’s new online customer E-service program, which is now operational & will allow (among many things) residents to track the status of concerns raised as staff work towards resolution. This system is now live and should greatly enhance the responsiveness of our local government.
Also passed was a one year delay on the King Street reconstruction project until 2020, which was apparently made at the request of a majority of downtown merchants who said they needed more time to prepare.
But the main event & the reason for the impressive turnout was the Public Hearing being held with respect to a Draft Plan of Subdivision and a Zoning By-law amendment application filed by the Kaitlin Corporation regarding proposed changes to their previously approved plan on Bayport Blvd. The developer is proposing 471 units consisting of a mix of freehold townhomes and condominiums in addition to the existing approvals, the most contentious of which, is the erection of 2 – 12 storey condo towers in place of the previously agreed 3 low- rise buildings.
Staff opened the public meeting by assuring Council that proper notice was provided to all interested parties- given the highly unusual turnout there was very little doubt about that.
Staff then provided Council and members of the community with an overview as to the changes Kaitlin were requesting and some of the implications associated with same.
Following which, Council heard a presentation from Jamie Robinson representing MHBC Planning on behalf of the developer outlining the revised proposal. While Mr. Robinson’s material did detail the proposed revisions to the builder’s plans, he was light on substance with respect to questions about future parking, traffic & access issues, not to mention current construction issues. Councilors were able to put faces to those concerns, as numerous residents of the area spoke of a litany of misrepresentations, safety issues, serious parking and maintenance matters and a seeming lack of willingness on the part of Kaitlin to mitigate or adequately respond to these fears.
More specifically, we heard of concerns about construction parking & snow removal (an unassumed road) that restricted access to emergency vehicles, school busses not to mention homeowners.
Councilors were told about the dangerous safety concerns regarding the only access to the neighbourhood where motorists on Bayshore Drive consistently ignore the traffic signal, fire hydrants buried in the snow, the absence of a second – and promised – roadway into the site, traffic studies conducted in November completely out of season and the suspected downloading of traffic congestion issues on to the Town at Vinden St. We heard from long time residents who never imagined that some 13 years after purchasing their high end homes, that they would still be living in the midst of a full on construction site. Resident’s spoke of promises broken, undisclosed changes to the original architectural plans along with pointing out that this developer has already once abandoned the project completely, leaving the Town to, at the time, remedy numerous outstanding matters the developer left uncompleted.
In our humble view, the meeting was premature, as there remain more questions than answers!
While it is a risky balancing act where government can intervene excessively with the private sector in these types of development situations, it is also understood that it is the responsibility of government to be conscientious stewards of that growth. While we on this forum have been staunch proponents of the marketing of this magical area and accelerated development of Midland, we are the first to agree that it can’t be at any price. Midlandcommunity.ca has always trumpeted that this area is a true “diamond in the rough”, waiting for others to notice. Any resident can look around and see the advances that have – and are – happening all around us with even greater things to come just over the horizon. We need not feel pressured to jump at every development bone dangled in front of us. It’s more than just putting up buildings for people to live and work in. … It’s about representing who we are as a community and achieving our vision of becoming a ‘complete community’.
Those responsible for attracting and overseeing development in this area need to seek out those developers that understand the impact and benefit that their respective projects will have on the community as a whole. Meaning, it is as much about legacy as it is about profits at any and all costs. We have witnessed firsthand what can happen when those priorities get confused (Midland Bay Landing, Barnstormer Brewing). Town administration must remain vigilant in discouraging the development equivalent of “corporate raiders” and partner with those who can empathize & share in a vision and a goal that produces results that the community at large can all be proud of.
Through the tireless efforts of many, Midland has finally reached the point where we no longer “need” to settle for substandard suitors, and should move forward with the approach that we are open for business, albeit the right business and the right partner.
This is how we see it at midlandcommunity.ca
Midland Matters, You Matter and Residents Matter!