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Thursday, August 18, 2022
Arch-i-text: Things that make me wonder

From time to time I come across information about Niagara-on-the-Lake that makes me sit back, scratch my head and wonder.

Take, for example, William Street. Other than the fact this street dead-ends at Regent near the Wilderness, it appears to be typical of its ilk. Curiously though, where the vast majority of streets in town have a 60-foot road allowance, for some reason William’s road allowance is 90 feet.

For those who are unsure what a road allowance is, it refers to the land on either side of the centre line of the street owned by the town (or region/province).

On most of our town roads, if one were to measure 30 feet from the centre of the street to either side the lines of demarcation between public and private property would typically be found.

But on William that measurement would be 45 feet. It may come as a surprise to some of the folks who live on William that their property isn’t quite as big as they thought it was.

The question of why this should be the case is somewhat unclear. In one case it has been suggested that William was originally proposed as a main delivery thoroughfare to the military lands (barracks) on the south side of King Street, given the wide allowance accordingly, but when that function never materialized, the wider allowance simply remained.

Be that as it may, I wonder why this has not been corrected in the past or is not under current consideration to be addressed by town council.

As it stands, the town owns a surplus 15-foot strip of land on either side of the normal 60-foot road allowance, which is of no practical benefit, is technically the town’s responsibility to maintain and simply complicates the lives of William Street residents who may be considering a renovation or addition to an existing building.

Why not take a page out of the province’s playbook (commonly done in cottage country) and offer to sell the 15-feet adjoining each lot to the property owners for a reasonable sum? Between Mississagua and Regent, even at $5,000 each, that would put approximately $200,000 into town coffers while reducing the associated administrative complications and get several grandfathered private buildings off town property.

Then there is the case of what can only be called a “tower” being constructed on Firelane 11. This building is a full three storeys tall sitting sandwiched between a one-storey cottage and a two-storey home.

Is it the tallest building on the road? Well, there are a couple of others on the street whose roof ridge may come close, but I’d have to say it tops them. However, this is not roof we’re talking about but rather a full third storey.

Here, again, is an example of architecture grossly incongruous with the streetscape and an affront to the privacy/lines-of-sight of the neighbours.

Oddly, the original building permit for this site is to “construct a new single-family dwelling on an existing foundation 1,374 square feet.”

There is no question this “tower” is larger than that, so it makes me wonder why, if amendments were applied for and made to the original permit, no one from the town would raise a red flag regarding what it was going to do to the streetscape.

I know Niagara-on-the-Lake lacks articulated design guidelines, but surely such amendments are granted at the discretion and deliberate consideration of planning and building staff … No?

Just a couple of the things that make me wonder.