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Niagara Falls
Sunday, September 24, 2023
Letter: Urban design committee rejects Parliament Oak hotel plan
NOTL’s urban design committee isn’t satisfied with plans for a hotel on the former Parliament Oak school property. FILE

Dear editor:

The highly anticipated proposal for a hotel at the historic former Parliament Oak school site on King Street took centre stage at the Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake’s urban design committee meeting on June 28.

The committee took a decisive stand by unanimously rejecting the proposed hotel development.

This decision carries significant weight, as this esteemed advisory committee wields substantial influence in shaping the town’s final planning report, which in turn serves as a vital document for council’s consideration in making its ultimate decision on the project.

The urban design committee, primarily comprised of accomplished professionals from the design community, brings together individuals with proven expertise in various fields, such as architecture, landscape architecture, environmental management, urban and regional planning, among others.

Their collective knowledge ensures a thorough evaluation of proposals that affect the town’s aesthetic and environmental integrity.

Deliberating for nearly two hours, the committee engaged in an in-depth discussion of the proposed hotel.

After careful consideration, members reached a consensus and formally approved a final motion, solidifying their rejection of the project.

The committee’s decision highlights the significance of preserving the historical and cultural heritage of the Parliament Oak site.

It sends a clear message that any development on King Street must align with the town’s vision for sustainable urban design and responsible growth.

As the proposal awaits further consideration by town council, the urban design committee’s resolute stance serves as a testament to their commitment to upholding the town’s values and ensuring thoughtful, well-informed decisions are made for the benefit of the community.

The committee’s motion rejecting the application for a zoning change on the site was approved by all five members: Allan Killin, Chrys Kaloudis, David Snelgrove, Peter Neame and Coun. Wendy Cheropita.

Among the points emphasized in the motion were that “staff and council carry out the required studies to define the need for and potential location of any new, designated commercial areas within NOTL’s Old Town” before considering any development proposals in the area.

It also asked that town staff take into account a number of concerns when preparing a report for council on the proposal, including that:

The required market/impact study (as per official plan section 10.4 commercial colicies) has not been submitted.

The proposed development is not consistent with the official plan, which requires that projects should be compatible with existing and planned land uses, densities, height and massing in the surrounding neighbourhood, and “have an effective transition in built form between areas of different densities and scale.”

The committee stated the massing of the proposed hotel is too large and inappropriate for the location as is its height, which is “much greater than current requirements.”

No formal parking study has been done and the proposed amount of parking appears to be quite inadequate given the number of guests, hotel staff and visitors for the facility, the committee noted. As well, no formal landscaping plan has been prepared.

The committee also recommended that council require staff to ensure development proposals are complete, with all required documentation, before being subject to public consultation, advisory committee and staff review, and prior to submission to council for review and a decision.

Alan Gordon

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