By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express
A proposal for a new downtown apartment building is seriously banking on the idea that the students of tomorrow will be much more environmentally friendly than their car-driving counterparts of today.
Speaking at a planning act meeting in regards to the new project, Glenn Wellings, a planning consultant for EDEV Inc. and a numbered company making the pitch for the development, says that the proposed nine-storey, 188-unit apartment building planned for 157-163 Athol St. E. will only have 31 underground parking spaces.
“We are definitely banking on alternative transportation modes from the automobile,” Wellings said following concerns raised by Councillor Nester Pidwerbecki. “It’s not expected that most of the students will have their owns cars.”
However, Pidwerbecki was skeptical, noting that the UOIT and Durham College north campuses are already facing issues with not enough parking spaces.
“I hope you’re right,” Pidwerbecki said. “I hope you have a lot of bikes because you’re going to need them.”
The proposal did not see much in the way of concerns from local residents, with one nearby local raising worries about traffic, while the owners of the home adjacent were concerned about construction issues and the impact on the foundation of their home as crews begin to dig out the property for the underground parking spaces.
“That is a legitimate concern,” said Paul Ralph, the city’s commissioner of development services.
The consultant and architect agreed to meet with the neighbour and ensure that, moving forward, their concerns would be addressed.
The proposal was referred back to city staff for further work and consultation, as is typical in the planning process. However, council would need to amend a series of zoning bylaws in order to have the building move forward.
First, the Oshawa Official Plan designates that the area within the Downtown Urban Growth Centre, where this site sits, can have a maximum density of 550 units per hectare. The proposal would see 871 units per hectare.
Wellings defended the density numbers, noting that having an apartment designed mainly for student accommodation will see smaller units and therefore a higher density.
“To me, as a planner, density is a bit of a red herring,” he said, adding that the downtown area would benefit from an influx of students.
“It’s an area that needs a shot in the arm” he says. “I believe this application will do that.”
The land will also need to be rezoned to permit the apartment building, regulations would need to be amended to allow for the smaller amount of parking. Currently, the city requires at least one space per unit.