13.4 C
Niagara Falls
Saturday, September 30, 2023
Letter: Build proposed hotel on former NOTL hospital site
Letter to the editor. File

Dear editor:

The concept of a “vibrant and complete community” is seen as an important goal in the Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake’s 2022-2026 strategic plan.

Strangely, planning staff and council refuse to recognize that dropping a large commercial hotel into the middle of an established residential neighbourhood will have a massively negative effect on this goal.

Staff did not require a market/impact study to be submitted as per official plan section 10.4 “commercial policies.”

At its July 25 meeting, council rejected all recommendations received from the urban design committee, including all of number three where parts b, c, and d responded directly to the requested comments from staff regarding height, massing and scale of the building.

Land use is an important part of urban design. It is not outside the purview of urban design.

Planning staff did not ask the urban design committee to comment on it, but the committee dared to offer an opinion on this important issue.

If you can only answer the questions you have been asked – and add nothing more – all of the power is in the hands of the questioner.

The site’s open space that enthrals everyone is not accessible to the public and will not even be visible to passersby through the brick and stone wall.

As the entire site is proposed to be rezoned to general commercial, there is no guarantee that the green space will remain or even ever be planted.

Walls do not contribute to a sense of community. Nor do they in any way promote inclusion, diversity and equity but instead inspire exclusion, homogeneity and inequity.

At the same time, the town is wondering what to do with the former hospital site. Hmmm, let’s think outside the box for a minute.

Royal Oak Community School now occupies the building. The former hospital is adjacent to the Queen-Picton commercial area.

The Shaw Festival theatre is to the south, to the southwest is the Shaw Club Hotel and Zee’s Restaurant, St. Vincent De Paul Church to the west, to the north is the Niagara Long Term Care Residence and Queen’s Landing Hotel. To the east is the Fort George parking lot.

Sounds like a much better location for a hotel than the former Parliament Oak school site.

It could become an anchor to the commercial district, with weddings at the church, overflow parking possible in the existing parking lot of Fort George, and the existing roads are already adequately sized.

This much more prominent and visible location for a grand hotel would contribute liveliness to the east end of the existing commercial district.

The Royal Oak Community School could occupy some or all of the existing Parliament Oak building. That building is surrounded by houses, some of which have children who could walk to school.

Perhaps a community hub and arts organizations could also inhabit the school.

This would create a “vibrant and complete community” for the residents within the existing residential area – not the walled black hole that would be created by the exclusionary hotel proposed for this site.

The former hospital site may be smaller in size but it is a much more prominent and appropriate location for a hotel of the grandeur proposed on the Parliament Oak site.

A land swap of the two properties would be beneficial from a planning viewpoint and be beneficial for both areas of town.

And rather than tearing down the school, it could remain and be repurposed in a meaningful way, avoiding unnecessary waste.

The heritage plaques could remain exactly where they are, as was suggested by the previous heritage committee.

“Vibrant and complete communities” require institutional lands and community services located in appropriate locations.

Such communities will not be created by happenstance nor by the whims of developers. They need to be contemplated, orchestrated and envisioned with competent planning and design.

Connie Tintinalli

Subscribe to our mailing list