By Mike Williscraft
Glitches, sound issues and a full system reboot did not keep Grimsby residents from piling on their disapproval Monday night for the seven-storey Losani Homes condo proposed for Cole’s Florist’s current site.
With speaker time shortened due to the volume of those seeking to address council as part of the public meeting regarding 141-149 Main St. East, the session went well over two hours
The virtual meeting was another example of the importance of face-to-face meetings for important public meetings.
The digital session started with 40 on feed, built up to nearly 60, then after a shut down and full reboot was required after about 45 minutes of discussion only 40 came back.
When several people who were listed to speak did not respond when called upon, Mayor Jeff Jordan noted, if they had any issues, they would get a chance to address the planned development.
“It’s worrying me people may not be able to sign back in. If having technical difficulty, call planning staff or town hall,” said Jordan.
“We will give residents who want to speak the opportunity to speak.”
Those on hand for the meeting start were told of the series of Official Plan and bylaw amendments the project would need, including allowing seven storeys where only two storeys is currently permitted.
Dave Ashton, the project’s lead consultant said 215 residential units are planned with 60 per cent of those being one bedroom units ranging in size from 500-1,000 sq. ft.. The remainder would be two bedroom units ranging in size from 800-1,300 sq ft.
Ashton noted a small commercial space is planned for the ground floor, about 600 sq ft in size.
The line of opposition to the scope of the project was long and steady.
Some of the issues given for wanting the project scaled back considerably included:
• if this project is allowed to proceed at seven storey, subsequent projects along Main Street East will match or exceed that height;
• safety was mentioned by several speakers for reasons ranging from added traffic congestion to pedestrian and cyclist issues;
• lack of affordable housing complement – Ashton noted there was none as part of the build;
• information in the developer’s presentation was inaccurate, including basing some comments on a transportation system which does not exist yet;
• the project does not come close to meeting design standards or heritage themes of Grimsby, and;
• the sheer height and density are out of place.
“How are three storeys not an ideal goal around all those houses?” asked resident Evan Smith, who noted the project currently seeks to triple the allowable building height permitted.
Smith noted he was finding Ashton’s comments to various inquiries were leaving something to be desired.
“I find your answers vague and jargony,” Smith said.
Sandra Yemm picked up on that theme of scope and scale.
“This proposal will forever change the character and heritage which was handed down through generations. Help us set a legacy for our children, grandchildren and generations to come,” said Yemm.
Ron Schroeder, speaking on behalf of the Save Main Street group, quoted Losani Homes founder, Fred Losani from a 2010 newspaper article.
“I live in Grimsby and on Main St. you get the same sense, where the architecture is appreciated and nurtured, and we wanted to do something that pays tribute to it, especially since it’s shaped the architecture of our new homes and is emblematic of the historic architecture of our environment,” Schroeder quoted.
“Could we have that Mr. Losani back, please.”
The feedback and issues discussed will be considered and the matter will come back to another public