By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express
Residents eagerly waiting to hear the fate of a large section of Oshawa’s waterfront may have to wait.
The Oshawa Express has learned that as the review process continues for a pair of highly condemned development projects next to Lake Ontario, any further report to council may not come until 2018.
“The city continues to review the proposal and this will include peer reviewing the supporting documentation once all are submitted,” says Warren Munro, the city’s director of planning. “I continue to reiterate that we will be making a fulsome review of this proposal and that will take some time. I do not anticipate reporting back in 2017.”
The pair of proposals are for single-detached and townhouse developments on two pieces of property in Oshawa’s south end.
The first proposal, known as Block A, is a 1.12-hectare wedge of land directly on the corner of Phillip Murray Avenue and Park Road South. The second, known as Block B, is a much larger proposal for a nearly 26-acre site sitting directly on the waterfront of Lake Ontario south of Renaissance Drive west of Park Road South.
Both proposals were submitted to the city in January during a meeting that saw residents fill the council chambers to capacity with more than 20 delegates speaking out against the developments, mostly due to the environmental impacts of destroying the open grassland, as well as traffic and safety implications.
In the months that followed, the city was inundated with letters from residents and a grassroots organization calling themselves Stop the Sprawl who organized the letter-writing campaign and a petition against the proposals.
Along with the petition’s 1,251 signatures, Stop the Sprawl’s letter-writing campaign garnered 107 letters in opposition to Block A, and approximately 149 came in stating opposition to Block B. Many of these letters included the names of multiple residents on a single letter and many stated their opposition to both developments. Only six letters were received that did not state outright opposition to the projects but listed several concerns.
Moving forward, Munro notes that the back-and-forth with the public is an ongoing process.
“The public consultation is continuous,” he says. “We have met our obligations to hold the public meeting and people who have submitted comments and/or spoke at the public meeting will be advised when the matter appears back on an agenda.”
Following the loud public outcry, both submissions have since been scaled back, with revised proposals being made public in September.
For Block A, while the number of townhouse units remains at 56, one of the residents’ main concerns has been addressed with the removal of an entrance into the housing development from Park Road, which many feared would cause traffic issues coming in and out of the development.
However, the much more contentious issue with Block A was the receipt of a letter from General Motors noting that the proximity of the development impeded their ability to expand on the southern portion of their site. The project sits directly across Philip Murray Avenue from the automakers Oshawa assembly plant. According to the resubmitted documents, the developer continues to work with GM to find an agreeable solution.
In terms of the updated proposal for Block B, Graywood has shaved 36 units from the project, dropping the total number down to 146 single detached units and 34 semis. A small park space and wetland have also been added to the western portion of the site.
Along with the proximity to the lake, the potential for erosion, and the sheer density of the development, many residents feared the environmental impact on the animals that rely on the open field space, as well as the threat to at-risk species like the monarch butterfly that use the field.
In the additional documents submitted by Weston Consulting, it’s noted that these further concerns will be considered as the project moves along.