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Niagara Falls
Saturday, July 13, 2024
Letter: People are right to speak up about planning issues
Letter. Supplied

Dear editor:

I couldn’t help but notice that peppered through the May 11 edition of The Lake Report were a number of references to existing buildings that had been opposed by residents at the time they were submitted to council for approval.

Specifically several references to Queen’s Landing before it was built in 1990 (“up in arms) and a certain private house (“architectural blasphemy”).

Apparently no one minds them now.

Is this meant to indicate that people just protest over nothing and then get over it? I wonder.

In fact, that is what usually happens.

A structure that is not sympathetic to the architectural vernacular of a town is proposed and a group of residents object to it.

Most of the submissions get approved anyway and then the existing residents learn to live with it.

Why? Because they have to get on with their lives and acceptance allows you to do that.

New people arrive and they also accept the new buildings because the buildings are already there.

The new buildings that do not support the original ambiance of the town set a precedent for others to follow at a later date and they do. And gradually the original character of the town is eroded – only old photographs remain.

The character of Niagara-on-the-Lake was established early on as early Canadian (your architecture columnist Brian Marshall probably has a better descriptor than that).

The fact that the character of the town still remains to some extent today is the result of the hard work of many committed residents over the years.

Despite the huge cultural significance of the area, few buildings are actually designated and there are no design guidelines to protect the original ambiance of the place.

As a result, insensitive buildings get approved and the fight continues.

The submissions that prompt the greatest protests are the ones that demonstrate the least sympathy for the local vernacular.

This is not about density. This is about scale and design.

Protests are more likely to be successful in stopping certain developments or modifying designs to be more supportive of the surrounding neighbourhood only in areas of great affluence, such as Caledon or Toronto’s Rosedale area.

They have been able to stop many unsuitable initiatives but not without a huge effort and considerable resources. And their fight, too, is never over.

People should speak out when they are not in agreement with a proposal and I don’t blame them for moving on if they lose their fight.

But that doesn’t mean they were wrong or that the people protesting now are wrong or that they shouldn’t have bothered.

It just means that in the examples quoted, they didn’t win.

Jackie Bonic
NOTL

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