Change is constant. Sometimes there’s no getting around it.
Supply, demand, development. To some these almost can be fighting words. They don’t have to be, if done with sensitivity, care and respect to the “vibe.”
In our little peninsula of the world that vibe has a lot of history and history-in-the-making.
Twenty-five years ago the first residents of the Village moved in. The Old Town boundary stopped there or was it enveloped reluctantly? Three-storey apartment buildings were added in the past few years.
There didn’t seem to be much hoopla or push back at the time. When the two-storey Simcoe apartments were constructed on Davy Street in Old Town, was there reluctance?
Now there’s a proposed development on King Street, straddling the urban and rural demarcation line, albeit, on a very small parcel of land.
Sky-high towers are proposed on the White Oaks property in Glendale, plus the planned development beside the outlet mall.
Housing crisis, affordability, walking scores, aging population. It can be challenging to wrap our minds around current social issues.
Ours is a small town of under 20,000 people, but maybe not for much longer.
Niagara-on-the-Lake has immense historical significance in Canada. As residents, we are the caretakers of this town and we must think of how we want it to look 200 years from now. How is that picture currently taking shape?
When the Pillar and Post was first constructed, I’m sure it raised eyebrows. A high-end hotel and spa built where a canning factory once stood?
Now a developer wants to build a large hotel on a former elementary school property. Is it the right look and feel for that lot?
I can appreciate the style of the 1800s Baroque influence that might fit in neatly into Old Town. But could we not have a hotel with a lower roofline, with a look that doesn’t feel jarring and forced?
When the Oban Inn was destroyed in a fire, was it rebuilt supersized? No, a replica was built in its place.
Glendale is poised to eventually add about 15,000 people to the town’s population. And now four towers are proposed for the White Oaks property. Are we ready for that?
If Virgil continues to grow, is the City of Niagara-on-the-Lake far behind? Do we want that?
I’m not certain apartment buildings on the King Street and Mary Street lots are the answer. At the same time, we do need to consider smaller residential options for those entering the workforce or those ready to downsize.
But it has to be on the right property and in the right scale.
Whatever happened to the property across from Crossroads Public School on Niagara Stone Road? I thought a lowrise development was proposed and shot down.
Maybe that doesn’t look as sinister now, as it did back then. I don’t recall the specifics, but I remember it wasn’t received kindly.
According to Statistics Canada, among NOTL’s 5,500 families, almost two-third (3,535 households) have only two persons. Let’s think about that for a moment: 64 per cent of Niagara-on-the-Lake households have just two people.
Dollars to donuts most of those 3,535 households aren’t young married couples starting their careers and poised to start families.
Yet we continue to build detached high-end homes. For whom? I don’t know many young families who can afford a high-end home when they start out.
NOTL has an image to uphold. We have orchards, vineyards and historic buildings. What we continue to build should fit into the context and landscape of this lovely town, not housing that looks like modern super structures.
We also need to think of demand and what we should be building to support the full spectrum of demographics, not just one niche.
People visit NOTL and imagine what life was like in the 1800s. They wander, experience and imagine, taking in the charm and quaintness of this lovely place.
Yes, some of us get to live here, too, year-round or part of the year. Who’s ready for the City of Niagara-on-the-Lake? I know I’m not.