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Niagara Falls
Saturday, December 2, 2023
Letter: Would King St. apartments be affordable housing or vacation rentals?
A 3D rendering of the three-storey condominium proposed on King Street. SOURCED

Dear editor:

I attended the virtual town meeting of Sept. 12, regarding the King Street proposal for an apartment building.

I heard the applicant’s representative answer a question regarding the nature of the building. He said the landowner would “condominiumize” the building, but would own all the units. That raised a number of concerns and the need to question the transparency of the applicant’s actions. 

The developer has been promoting this project as “intensification” and “affordable housing.” Representatives have quoted various planning documents and have noted the Ontario government’s push for intensification in the form of affordable rental properties and the rewards or penalties for municipalities included in the legislation.

The town should definitely consider applications for appropriate and affordable housing.

But is this the case here? If this developer was transparent and sincere, the company likely would not have purchased a property zoned R1 and then submitted amendment applications, nor would it be considering such a large building on a small property, to provide owner-occupied or long-term rental residences.

Here are some of the concerns:

Will this truly be residential, inhabited by owners or renters who call it home or is it going to become an unofficial executive rental, seasonal rental or vacation rental?

Its current layout with a lobby and an office, as well as the name on the building elevation drawing “King Suites,” has one questioning the target market and how that would meet the goals of residential intensification.

The property is too small for 17 units. The applicant is asking for a number of amendments and provisions in order to fit the building into this location. That, alone, indicates the need for serious consideration.

The building will not be fronting a road, but rather “hidden,” which is not ideal for residents. There are no amenities shown in the plans, such as lockers, a meeting room, a gym, adequate bicycle parking, etc.

There is no “backyard” for the resident families and pets to enjoy. There does not appear to be adequate visitor or contractor parking, nor a place for deliveries or passenger pickup.

King Street is a local road that is not intended for the increased vehicle traffic expected for the number of residents, their visitors, deliveries and so on.

It is a narrow street where visitor parking is not easily accommodated and parked cars blocking one lane of traffic would become a safety issue for vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians.

Should this building be approved, I would hope the town can enforce rules for a condominium and require renters to be for one year or more.

I also hope that the condo board will not be made up of only the applicant and his colleagues.

A number of changes should be made to ensure a more appropriate condominium building in this location. However, the best solution would be for this applicant to seek a larger property on a more major road and with adjacent public lands, as is suggested for apartment buildings in Ontario.

Paula Ghosh

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