The following letter was sent to members of council and a copy was submitted to The Lake Report for publication.
As longtime, active and involved Niagara-on-the-Lake residents, we have watched real estate escalate from a most affordable town for young families (in the early 1970s when we moved here) to its current exclusive pricing levels.
In reading the proposal for an apartment at 223-227 Mary St., it appears these units would only be affordable to those retiring from larger and more expansive lifestyles and who are now looking to downsize, using their built-up equity.
These are not designed for working families or individuals looking for starter homes or rentals.
The faux-colonial design negatively impacts a gateway entrance (an area once considered to become the centre of town) to the Old Town tourism district.
It also directly would affect and throw shadows onto the backyards of the five neighbouring properties on Mississagua Street, two backyards on William Street, four yards on Simcoe Street as well as the neighbouring properties that front onto Mary Street.
This town is not obligated to allow maximum development to reward a developers’ investment while possibly destroying the individual real estate of those properties that abut the property.
This is an incredible impact of an existing neighbourhood of the proposed 41 units, a minimum guesstimate of 82 residents and their vehicles (excluding visitors and their cars) on a property frontage of merely 45.59 metres (150 feet).
Having been members of many NOTL organizations and being local business owners, we have been involved in many aspects of promoting, protecting and preserving Niagara-on-the-Lake’s history and cultural resources.
We believe that this and future councils are the stewards of the town and the direction and impact of development is their responsibility.
There must be included in an over-arching plan, a commitment to preserve landscapes, minimize the impact of development, protect open spaces and promote this unique community to benefit tourism opportunities that highlight our history and establishment as the first capital of Upper Canada.
As this letter is being drafted, there are news reports about recent world events – war and natural disasters – that have destroyed the natural landscapes and heritage buildings of eastern Europe.
As world citizens we decry the horrors of the loss of lives and destruction and mourn that the built-history and its stories are forever lost and now will be mere memories in history books.
While there is no comparison to the horror and conflict, NOTL did suffer in the War of 1812. We could have easily lost our history, our spaces, our buildings but people fought hard to protect that which was valued for future generations.
And now we are faced with a different assault – by those who financially benefit from the destruction of our heritage resources and landscapes, while those empowered as our decision-makers must act on behalf of the community and preserve our history for the future generations.
Our town is a unique and special place, unlike any other in Ontario. This proposal is one of many being considered by council and one of many others that will come in the future.
As our community leaders, as Canadians, as world citizens you have a responsibility to be stewards of our spaces, stories and buildings.
Erika and Jim Alexander