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Residents banding together to fight waterfront development

A group of residents in the city’s south end are working together to stop a pair of developments on Oshawa’s lakefront. The proposed housing developments would see 56 townhouses and 132 parking spots at Phillip Murray Avenue and Park Road South, seen here, as well as 184 single detached homes and 32 semi detached units south of Renaissance Drive.

By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express

Although its size may pale in comparison to that seen in council chambers for a recent planning meeting, a dedicated group of residents turned out at the latest open house held by developer Graywood Developments to continue to share its dissent for a pair of proposals near Oshawa’s waterfront.

For the session at Lakewoods Public School, Graywood brought along a team of consultants to answer residents’ questions regarding everything from traffic to land use to ecology and wildlife.

Approximately 50 people attended the meeting and reiterated several of the same concerns raised during a marathon public meeting on Jan. 16 in the council chambers that saw hundreds attend and run until nearly 2 a.m.

Concerns about the wildlife that call the two sites home and the intensification of the development were hot topics during the meeting, with one resident calling the planned homes as “sardine cans” and slamming the developer for the zero greenspace included in the plans.

The current proposals includes Block A, a 1.12-hectare wedge of land directly on the corner of Phillip Murray Avenue and Park Road South. The plan is to place eight block townhouses with a total of 56 dwellings and 132 parking spaces on the site.

The second, 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 and west of Park Road South. Block B could see 216 units erected on the site, including 184 single detached dwellings and 32 semi-detached units.

Currently, the plans remain unchanged as the developer awaits comments from the city.

“To be abundantly clear, we were hoping to receive those comments before this meeting, but we haven’t,” says Ryan Guetter, the lead consultant on the development.

Using those comments and those gathered during the public consultation, that information will be considered when and if the plan is refined

“At the end of the day, I know everyone is not going to love everything,” Guetter says.

In answering further questions from The Oshawa Express following the meeting related to residents’ issues, Guetter says everything discussed will be considered during the process moving forward.

“Adjustments to the plan will be considered based on receiving all city and agency comments and we will give due consideration to the comments expressed by the public,” Guetter states in an emailed response.

In responding to questions regarding the intensification of the developments and whether the developers will show any leniency toward decreasing the size of the developments, Guetter says the intensities proposed in Block A and Block B are both below the permitted maximum density in the city’s official plan, with Block A considered “medium density” and Block B “low density,” both of which are “appropriate from a planning perspective,” he states.

Currently, the Block B development proposes approximately 29.1 units per hectare, below the city’s official plan’s line of 30 units per hectare to be considered low density. Block A could see 54 units per hectare (the Official Plan designates anything between 30 and 60 units per hectare as medium density residential).

Since the meeting, residents are banding together to coordinate their efforts to halt the development altogether, something that could be done by convincing council to halt the rezoning process on the lands. Currently zoned as Urban Reserve (Block B) and Residential (Block A), council would need to agree to rezone the lands to R2 Residential in order to accommodate the types of buildings – specifically townhouses – in order to move forward.

“Our goal is to stop the rezoning and keep our lakefront natural, safe and beautiful,” states Barbara O’Brien with the Stop the Sprawl organization. “They can build homes anywhere in Oshawa. We only have one lakefront.”

A recent meeting of the group saw nearly 30 residents pack into a neighbour’s home to get organized. O’Brien says the group is looking to grow further and have recently started erecting “Stop the Sprawl” signs around the city. Those on municipal property have since been removed.

“We have a great group of neighbours and our voice depends on us sticking together,” she says.“All are welcome to join our group that are interested in stopping this rezoning and keeping this beautiful lakefront intact.”

The development has not only drawn the ire of residents, but the nearby GM General Assembly as well, which previously wrote a letter claiming the development of Block A could handcuff any further expansion on the southern edge of its location.

According to Guetter, the two sides have met once and had multiple telephone discussions dealing with the matter.

“They indicated they would review the application materials and would be following up with us at the appropriate time to meet again and discuss the project,” he states, noting that despite the concerns, plans have been in place with the city’s official plan to develop the Block A lands for some time.

“Block A lands are designated for residential purposes in the city’s official plan, which has recognized the existence of GM for several decades. We anticipate working further with GM to identify the appropriate solutions to address their concerns in a manner that would permit the development of Block A for residential purposes.”