Letter to the Editor – Downtown Development


Dear Editor,

All I can say is WOW!

The public had been invited to a public meet and greet earlier on to ask questions and to discuss the Zoning By-Law and Official Plan Amendment for 215 Reuben St. The main concern at this public meeting was the size of the development being planned and at that time, according to the North Grenville Times, when Council had been asked about the details from a concerned citizen, Council didn’t have any information on this at the time.

Fast forward to the meeting held on December 14th, at the Municipal Centre. Taxpayers were invited to this meeting to discuss any issues they may have regarding the development being considered for 215 Reuben Street. Residents were also able to submit any concerns to the Planning Division in writing prior to this meeting. The township received letters of concerns from several North Grenville residents prior to this meeting. Several taxpayers/voters from the area attended this meeting to discuss this development prior to any vote being taken by Council to approve both the zoning bylaw and the Official Plan Amendment being proposed. I attended this meeting as a concerned resident of North Grenville. I have not participated in this area’s Council meetings in the past, but I did have concerns over this issue. 

The residents that went into this meeting were hoping to get questions answered regarding the size of the development, the height of the buildings being proposed, the number of units being proposed, the parking problems that may occur, the impact on traffic to the area of both Reuben Street and Prescott Street, and the safety of people living and walking on that street.

The proposed development is requesting for 168 units. When the Planning Officer was speaking about the density to be increased to 110 units per hectare from the normal 60 units per hectare, I and other members of public in attendance were very concerned on why this developer is being allowed to almost double the capacity that is normally allowed. Is this going to become a precedent setting for “any” developer who wants to develop in North Grenville? When I asked that question, I was told that this has been done before, no further details. But does this mean that that many units need to be added to this one area? I do understand that we need rental units in North Grenville and the BIA is trying to revitalize that downtown area, but is it at the expense of creating chaos in one area?

People with families who live in the vicinity are worried about the traffic flow and safety. We were told that a traffic report was done in July and the area could handle the increased traffic on Reuben and Prescott St. With the curling rink, the baseball fields, the revitalized Riverside Park, the Kemptville Legion, there is a lot of activity in the area other than the two weeks in July.  Also, the foot traffic from both the high school and public school has a lot of students walking that way on Reuben St on their way to and from school. Parking alone with one car per unit is going to be 168 more cars in that small area. They have stated there will be 200 parking spots, but one of the questions was how many units are going to only have one car? 

Another thing that came up was the developer is stating that this is “affordable housing”. When questioned, they stated anyone with income from $70,000 to $100,00 would be able to afford these units. Isn’t what we are looking for in our town affordable housing, and for our residents to be able to live there? Unfortunately, that means it will be out of reach for a lot of seniors.  Also, the developer has requested only 15% of the units be available for affordable housing, instead of the 25% mandated as per CMHC guidelines. How does our Council reconcile this refusal to meet the minimum mandated guidelines? Also, they are only guaranteeing the affordable rate for 10 years. What happens after that? Also, these units are being sold as walking distance to everything. I know our town is quaint and lovely, but accessible to everything – I am just not sure, as most retail is on the Highway 43 corridor.

Also requested was that the Zoning By-Law be changed to residential, which I think no one objected to. Again, as previously stated, we do need rental housing in the Kemptville area.

Even with the discussion regarding safety and the grave concerns people were having with the height of the buildings, the Council went right ahead and approved the By-Law and Official Plan amendments. So, no changes to the number of units were requested by Council. My personal opinion was that the decision was made before the Council meeting even took place. For a Council that had no answers at the previous meet and greet that had been brought forward about this project, and suddenly, they seemed to have all the answers this night that they needed, and no concerns for the issues brought forward by the residents at the meeting.  I know that there are issues that were not addressed from our questions to our satisfaction. I really am not sure why they even invited people to the council meeting as they really did not listen to us. Very disappointed that further discussion could not be had to address the issues. I will admit the Mayor did state that sidewalks should be looked into for that street. But there were more issues than that.

Also, another thing I would like to bring forward is previous Kemptville Councils have been known to rush things along before, an example is the subdivision on Concession Rd with its constant problems, and the unit that was never was built near the Legion. I hope this Council is not creating another fiasco with this area.

Bev Arcand



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