A letter from a neighbour: Soeurs de la Visitation

24 02 2010

from your neighbour Bonnie

I never thought my life would be portrayed in a movie: yet there it is in the Oscar nominated animation, “UP”!

Similar to the movie’s key character, my home for 32 years is about to be swallowed by the towering buildings, slated for the Soeurs de la Visitation site at 114 Richmond Rd.

A key issue beyond the possible height of buildings, is the proposed back entrance off of Byron Ave. The streets surrounding this site are some of the oldest in Westboro. They contain pre & post war housing on narrow streets – many without sidewalks. Most were purchased as affordable housing prior to the redevelopment of Westboro and are the only investment for many senior homeowners. Now they face the possibility of declining property values and becoming the thoroughfare and parking lot for this site. Residents on my street already struggle with on street parking – it makes turning into driveways very difficult and poses safety issues for children walking on roads without sidewalks to attend school. Additionally the heavily used Byron Strip walkway is now threatened so that buildings on the south side of this complex can be accessed.

I have always known that this site would be redeveloped; and so it should be. But I guess I placed too much faith in our City’s Official Plan that appears to be looking after the best interests of residents by using phrases such as “balanced communities”, “compatibility with existing communities”, and paying attention to the “impact on existing or proposed development on adjacent land, in terms such as traffic, housing and employment ratios, and the availability of open space and community services.” How silly of me to not understand that the pockets of individual developers takes precedence and that this is the only way to generate revenues to hold the line on tax increases. Forget existing residents, I guess we are considered expendable as Westboro continues its march towards being a “Destination Site”. It’s obvious that being the providers of free parking (as described on the Westboro Business Association website) is to be our destiny.

Although this project is dissimilar to Landsdowne, in that it is privately owned property, its issues are the same. If the intensification goes ahead as described at the November community meeting, the impact has the potential to be overwhelming not only to immediate residents but also communities abutting this area. Westboro, Hintonburg and other neigbouring communities are feeling the impact of their own intensification. An overall review is needed to understand the compounding nature of this and other projects. I urge all community groups to work together to ensure that traffic/parking studies are comprehensive for the bigger picture; and that this is the community scape that’s in the best interests of residents. I also urge City Councillors to take a stand and seriously think about what kind of City they are creating for the future

Oh, how I wish I could tie balloons to my house and move away like the movie depicts.

As always, we do like to hear from our community. Please use the comment function here on the WCA blog to submit your feedback.


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24 02 2010
Churchill Neighbour

Neighbour Bonnie,
Could not agree with you more! We have lived here for 18 years and last week our neighbours place was sold to a developer. I fear if the city lets them build what I think they’ll want,our small house will back onto 2 sides of three storey high walls with no view beyond our fence.
People complain about working in office cubicles…why are we planning communities like them???

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