Council's plan for 68-unit development could harm buffer zone, further traffic woes: APAW
© Chronicle photo Anthony Abbondanza
The development of the wooded area north of the Sunrise Senior Living residence could add approximately 30-40 additional cars to the Woodland/Beaurepaire intersection.
A buffer zone important to Angell Woods wildlife has come under scrutiny in recent days as Beaconsfield council voted in favour to approve a development agreement with SZR Beaconsfield Land Inc., to build 68 new condo units in the wooded area directly north of the Sunrise Senior Living residence.
According to the Association for the Protection of Angell Woods (APAW), although the wooded area is not necessarily part of the 85-hectare woods, considered a natural area of interest to the Montreal Metropolitan Community (MMC), developing it could harm the buffer zone –area which separates Angell Woods from wooded area slated for development.
“They’re chipping away at the Angell Woods sector,” said Kate Coulter of APAW. “This is one of the last remaining forests that help reduce heat effect.”
Coulter noted a 2010 APAW-commissioned study conducted by Kim Marineau suggesting the importance of buffer zones for the preservation of Angell Woods and the species that call it home.
According to city councillor Wade Staddon, the wooded area preliminarily approved for development does not fall within the Angell Woods ecosystem because of the existence of a wide buffer zone. Staddon also noted that biological studies show that the Sunrise property in question is not of significant ecological value and for that reason “doesn’t stand as a reason for saving the land.”
The question remains however whether the land in question should be considered as part of Angell Woods buffer zone. According to a 2012 environmental study, commissioned by Beaconsfield, Biofilia agreed with the 2010 Marineau et al study of the importance of buffer zones and its protection. Biofilia recommended 100-150 metres-wide buffer zones along the Angell Woods periphery – which would mean the Sunrise property is not part of the buffer zone.
A 2005 study conducted by Girault, however, stated that a lack of information on the current buffer zone prevented an accurate measurement for the actual dimensions of the buffer zone.
Council voted last night on the project, which earlier this month was successfully motioned at city hall. At the time, Mayor David Pollock and mayoral candidate Rhonda Massad were opposed to the project; councillors Staddon, Karin Essen, Roy Baird, and Pierre Demers voted in favour.
Impact on traffic?
The Special Planning Program includes a provision outlining any potential development requires a preceding traffic study to help alleviate the current traffic dilemma at the Woodland/Beaurepaire intersection.
While the Sunrise property in question has been excluded from the interim control by-law –in place since 2010 to freeze potential development to Angell Woods –developers will still have to conduct a traffic assessment and solutions strategy to deal with the added cars the construction of 68 new condo units will generate.
In a 2013 traffic study, commissioned by the city, engineering firm Genivar noted the project would generate 30-40 cars during morning and afternoon rush hour which it deemed as a negligible impact on current traffic conditions.
According to APAW, however, the Genivar study does not examine the traffic effect for residents on the south side of Beaconsfield.
In an APAW-commissioned traffic study of the Beaurepaire/Woodland exchange last May, results show that the current road infrastructure cannot support additional traffic. The exchange, which is composed of three intersections with traffic lights serving three major avenues, has forced residents to wait an average of 55 to 100 seconds during the morning and afternoon rush hour, respectively.