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Friday, July 12, 2024
Town rejects White Oaks’ plan for higher towers
Stephen Bedford from Landx Developments said that the new high rises will serve as a gateway into the community. JULIA SACCO

Councillors reached a stalemate Tuesday night regarding White Oaks Resort and Spa’s proposal to increase building heights in Glendale for a major new residential development.

Ultimately, both White Oaks’ request to allow the development of four new towers and a proposal from one councillor to reduce the proposed buildings’ heights were rejected at the committee of the whole planning meeting.

White Oaks wants to build four tall buildings: two apartments of 17 and 21 storeys, containing 390 residential units and two mixed-use buildings, 18 and 25 storeys, with 420 units.

The Glendale secondary plan currently allows for buildings in the area along Taylor Road and Glendale Avenue to have one tower at 20 storeys at the rest at 16 storeys.

White Oaks’ proposal was ultimately defeated in a 5-4 vote.

Couns. Maria Mavridis, Adriana Vizzari, Erwin Wiens and Lord Mayor Gary Zalepa voted in favour, while Couns. Tim Balasiuk, Gary Burroughs, Wendy Cheropita, Sandra O’Connor and Nick Ruller were opposed.

A motion by Cheropita to have further discussions with developers and to adjust staff’s report on the development to include a height reduction also was defeated, again in a 5-4 vote.

Cheropita, along with Burroughs, Mavridis and O’Connor supported that motion, while Balasiuk, Ruller, Vizzari, Wiens and Zalepa were against it.

Cheropita proposed the height parameters be reduced to 20 storeys maximum for one building and three buildings at 16 storeys maximum.

Zalepa did not agree with Cheropita’s idea to suggest a height reduction of the development, calling it “unprofessional.”

“It’s interesting that we think we can figure out what a sustainable development can be by just free-wheeling here,” he said.

“Normally what happens is the developer has done their homework — and I’m sure this one has — to determine what’s feasible from a business perspective.”

Wiens agreed with Zalepa, voicing his concerns with the idea of “planning on the back of a napkin.”

Cheropita defended her request for a height reduction, saying that she went through every page of the report and her request for a reduction to 16 floors came straight from the Glendale secondary plan.

O’Connor agreed. “This 16-storey is not picked out of the air, it’s not from the back of a napkin — it’s what’s in our official plan.”

The original application from LandX Developments proposed the 17- and 21-storey apartment buildings and 18- and 25-storey mixed-use buildings.

The application was met with outrage from many members of the community, including Steve Hardaker, who made a presentation at Tuesday’s meeting.

The main point of Hardaker’s argument was residents’ concerns with the increase in height in the development.

Hardaker presented 644 signatures, in total, from Glendale residents objecting to the application.

Many submitted comments about how the proposed heights do not mesh with the picturesque look of Niagara-on-the-Lake and go beyond the permissible limits in town.

After the motion to approve 17, 18, 21 and 25 storeys was defeated, Hardaker felt a small relief, but noted this was not the end.

“Right now, I am feeling like ‘The Mouse That Roared,’ or better, how David beat Goliath,” Harkdaker said in an email to The Lake Report.

“This is not the end of the story, though,” he said, noting there was a notice of motion tabled for the next committee of the whole planning meeting, which directs staff to work with White Oaks on an amended proposal, based on the Glendale secondary plan.

“So, this will come back.”

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