By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express
Citizens turned out in droves to oppose the development of two chunks of green space in Oshawa’s south end – now, they may have to wait months before any decisions are made.
At a public planning act meeting earlier this month that stretched until nearly 2 a.m., more than 200 residents packed city hall’s council chambers to register their opposition to developments being put forward by Graywood Developments. All in all, nearly 30 residents spoke during the meeting, almost all of them flat-out stating they were in opposition to the development going forward.
“It was an interesting meeting, and that’s what makes the public process about the planning act so important – it’s that the community has the right to participate,” says Mayor John Henry. “We had a room that was packed, standing room only, where every individual who wanted to speak had the right to be heard.”
The mayor would not say much more about the development itself.
“I really can’t give you an opinion on what went on because I don’t want to interfere with the planning process,” he says. “Any member of council that starts to give opinions creates the opportunity for one or the other to go to the Municipal Board and we don’t want to create that.”
Now, according to Paul Ralph, the city’s commissioner of development services, the next stage will take some time to get through as city departments and other organizations review the technical documents and research studies done in preparation for the proposed development. These studies include looking at everything from environmental impacts and erosion to archaeological assessments and traffic studies.
The studies were completed for two separate portions of land. The first proposal (Block A), is a 1.12-hectare wedge of land directly on the corner of Phillip Murray and Park Road South. The plan is to place eight block townhouses with a total of 56 dwellings and 132 parking spaces. 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 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.
“It’s going to take months, because it’s highly technical,” Ralph says. “And given the issues that were raised by General Motors too, we want to make sure those are properly addressed.”
In a letter to council, the automaker shared its thoughts on the proposal for Block A, which sits directly across the road from its assembly facility. GM said the recommendation was “completely inadequate and troubling,” noting that by allowing the construction of homes on the site, the city could be stifling any future expansion of GM’s operations in the city as the proximity of residential homes would limit any development on the southern portion of its site due to Ministry of Environment and Climate Change guidelines.
Both developments saw a rash of concerns from residents directly adjacent to the sites and from nearby neighbourhoods, expressing concerns for safety with traffic and intensification in an area that already sees heavy traffic.
The public comments will also form part of a final report at the city’s level, which will then be forwarded to Graywood and its consultants for a report.
Ryan Guetter, a representative with Weston Consulting, presented the developments at the meeting and noted the developer is interested in hosting a public open house of their own to gather information and thoughts from residents.
However, a date was not provided for when that might occur and a further request for comment to Guetter from The Oshawa Express was not returned as of press time.
“We’re still quite a way from determining what a decision is going to be or any recommendation from staff,” Ralph says.