The city of Beaconsfield voted a draft bylaw on zoning changes affecting the whole city that is causing quite a commotion since it was announced Monday night at the council meeting. The draft bylaw has a provision to augment the permitted height at Elm Plaza located at 275 Elm Ave. from one storey to four.
Residents of the neighbouring area came to city hall Monday with a 93-signature petition opposing the proposed change. Many citizens expressed their discomfort at having Elm Plaza potentially gain in height.
“When my wife and I bought a home on Bolton 15 years ago, we knew that there was a strip mall behind it. We were told that's what it would stay. It was built down in a lower area so although it does interfere with the view, it is not horribly offensive,” said Ken Rubenovitch.
“The problem is they can't seem to keep what they have clean, proper and maintained. God forbid if it becomes something different. They can't seem to run what they have. We have horrible noise and filth at the back. Raccoons are constantly knocking over garbage bins to get to whatever food they can get. Any addition to that plaza other than making it prettier would devalue our homes terribly.”
Many are also mad the city omitted to inform the citizens of this change from the get-go at the information session of Aug. 27 held at city hall where all the information about the zoning changes was supposed to be explained.
“I was here the evening of the presentation of the zoning bylaw. There was a lovely powerpoint presentation. It showed a lot of the changes. But missing, blatantly missing from that presentation was any of the increases in height and storeys in Elm. You were specifically asked if there was going to be any increase and you answered no,” Karen Messier told mayor David Pollock.
The citizens would later find out about the proposed change in height through the documents made available online by the city. Ike Partington, who lives near Elm Plaza, reminded council that the council in place at the time of the construction of Elm Plaza allegedly promised the building would stay the same height.
“When this plaza was built, an agreement was made by the mayor, the council at that time with the local residents that the height would remain as it is now. The agreement was made that the plaza would be built down in a dip, which has been done, so that it wouldn’t alter residents’ views. I would expect this council would respect the agreement made by previous council and mayor and take this item out of the bylaw changes completely,” she said.
The proposed change remains a draft bylaw for now and no project to build additional storeys to Elm Plaza has been put forward by any developer. There will be a public consultation on the whole zoning bylaw on Oct. 15 as is required by law and then the bylaw will be voted upon at the November council meeting.
When asked if he approved of the project, mayor David Pollock said he didn’t during the question period, only to make a statement later on about the need for more condominiums in the city. His councillors were more adamant about the need for more densification in the city, notably Wade Staddon.
“From an environmental perspective, we have to become somewhat denser, the more logical way to do that is the areas that are already developed, we can use the infrastructure that’s already there and you can along transportation corridors, you can accentuate public transit use,” he said.
“In terms of the Elm Plaza, you have a marginal mall in a hole in the ground that doesn’t do very well. It’s the source of complaints, nuisance and noise and theft. It’s along a transportation corridor and it could be redeveloped in such a way that would meet the needs of the community and the general population better than it can now.”