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Friday, December 8, 2023
Glendale fights big development
Lianne Gagnon is collecting signatures in her neighbourhood for a petition against a proposal from White Oaks to build four high rise condos in Glendale. EVAN LOREE

A Glendale resident is collecting signatures from her neighbours to protest a plan to build four high-density condominiums along Taylor Road and Glendale Avenue. 

The project, proposed by Ameer Wakil, the owner of White Oaks resort, will place four towers, the tallest of which is about 82 metres tall, on a vacant lot adjacent to the spa.  

Resident Lianne Gagnon said she first learned about the development after coming home to Niagara-on-the-Lake from vacation. 

“I was alarmed, to be honest, and really quite astonished,” Gagnon said.

She was one of two residents to speak at a public meeting on the project on the evening of Oct. 3, but four other registered speakers dropped out after the meeting ran past 10 p.m..

One of those who gave up his chance to speak was Mike Macdonald, also from Glendale.

“It certainly appeared like Glendale was shuffled to the back of the deck,” he said.

The project was the last of four items on council’s docket that night.

The concerns of Glendale residents were not well represented at the meeting, Gagnon said.

“I was adamant that I would just push through and stay until I got to speak,” she said.

Gagnon lives in Niagara on the Green, a subdivision on the opposite corner of the intersection where the highrises are proposed.

As of Wednesday, she had collected 235 virtual signatures against the condo proposal since launching it last Thursday.

Residents interested in signing her Change.org petition can find it at https://tinyurl.com/3suys4hr.

Gagnon said she isn’t against development and that her neighbours aren’t either.

“Most of the residents in Niagara on the Green would love to see more development,” she said.

Three to seven storeys of residential development would probably be fine at the proposed location, Macdonald said.

He expressed worries, however, that the existing infrastructure would buckle under the new proposal’s weight.

There are no grocery stores, recreational facilities or medical services to serve the future residents of the four towers, he said.

Some of these, including grocery stores, are planned for in the town’s Glendale district plan.

“They’re going to create a high-density community that has to drive everywhere. I’m not really sure that’s what we’re looking for,” he said.

Gagnon imagines a world where, eventually, Niagara-on-the-Lake is one big community,

But she said she hopes it won’t look like the Toronto skyline.

Before Niagara-on-the-Lake “ends up looking like one big city,” Gagnon said, she wants to “retain the architectural features” that make the town “special.”

“I understand that there might be a tower or two, but let’s try to stay away from the metropolitan look,” she said.

People come to NOTL to get away from the city, Gagnon said. 

Dave Wallace, who also lives in the nearby subdivison, said he moved to NOTL from St. Catharines to get away from city-style living.

He would prefer to see something more in keeping with the town’s look and character, he said, citing the Garrison Village area near Old Town as an example of a compatible development.

Growth is inevitable, he said, “but I think we should still stay who we are.”

Scott Maxwell, a Glendale resident and volunteer firefighter, said he wondered if the town would need to switch to a full-time fire department to meet the needs of tall buildings like the ones proposed by White Oaks.

“Training for 20-storey highrises is different than training for a four-storey highrise,” he said.

“I don’t know of anyone that wants to have that density. I don’t know what would be beneficial about it,” he added.

Maxwell and Macdonald agreed that traffic congestion would worsen with the addition of 810 residential units.

Traffic is still bad in Glendale, even with the completion of the new diverging diamond interchange, Wallace said.

Gagnon said she hopes her petition will convince council to reject the application from White Oaks.

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