After almost four hours of public debate on a variety of planning issues at NOTL council last Tuesday night, two patient women were the last ones standing.
Irena Bliss and Lianne Gagnon were the only residents to offer their two cents’ worth on a proposal to build four highrise apartment buildings across from the outlet mall in Glendale.
Neither was in favour of the high-density proposal at the intersection of Taylor Road and Glendale Avenue.
While six residents registered to speak, including Lake Report community correspondent Steven Hardaker, Bliss and Gagnon were the only ones to wait past 10:30 p.m. for a chance to have their say.
“People can’t wait four hours. We need to spread these meetings out a little better,” said Coun. Gary Burroughs.
Bliss was concerned with the environmental impacts of the four towers, the tallest of which is 82.5 metres (about 270 feet) tall.
“At this 11th-hour of climate and Earth changes, proposing tall towers seems to be potentially very short-sighted,” she said.
“Tall buildings by their very nature carry a huge carbon footprint,” Bliss said.
As well, buildings like those proposed by developer White Oaks Tennis World Inc. are more expensive to construct and need more energy to heat and cool, she said.
Because of climate change, she suggested current and future generations might not be well-served by developments like this one.
She said the town should pursue projects with smaller ecological footprints and keep structures within a “maximum of six storeys.”
The desired population density for Glendale can be achieved without having to rely on highrise developments like the White Oaks proposal, she said.
She was also worried about the effect on the migratory pathways of birds.
“There are well-being concerns with tall buildings that limit the sense of cohesiveness of communities,” Bliss added.
She added the four towers would be in “stark contrast” to the “beloved” lowrise character of Niagara-on-the-Lake.
“Overall, many experts reflect that lower-rise living, within that four-to six-storey environment, is closer to nature and facilitates a much stronger community,” she said.
Gagnon, who lives in Niagara on the Green, had different concerns, noting the “small-town charm” and “unique culture” of NOTL prompted her to move here 11 years ago.
“Massive buildings that tower over our neighbourhoods” are the “antithesis” of NOTL, she said.
“Yes, densification will occur here and we will grow, but let’s develop our neighbourhoods with forethought,” she said.
“There’s nothing visually appealing about those highrises that says ‘Niagara-on-the-Lake,’ ” she said.
She also suggested the parking proposed for the development was insufficient.
“Most families have more than one car,” she said.
And staff at White Oaks Resort already have trouble finding parking, she said.
“We’re at an important juncture in our town’s development that will affect our children,” she said.
“Glendale should not be the dumping ground for these types of metropolitan requests,” she said.
Both residents asked council to reject the development.