Shrink Slessor Square!

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Safety issues and Slessor Square

One way to limit the size of Slessor Square is to make it more expensive for the developer to build and/or the future residents to purchase. It also becomes a bargaining chip for the town in their negotiations with the developer and/or the OMB when the appeal is filed. 

Traffic and density will not win the battle - the province wants more intensification and the developers want more profit per square foot - and frankly the township wants and needs more tax revenue. So increased density has been accepted as a necessary evil, and traffic is just an offshoot of that. 

Two issues remain that I think the developers and council have not considered yet, and which prove more fruitful as a solid justification for a smaller development. 

The first is the proposed mix of units - 1 bedroom and studios versus 2 and 3 bedroom units - which Slessor has not revealed yet either in their plans or their sales documentation. If Newmarket wishes to remain a family based community, they need to push for more 2 or 3 bedroom units which will reduce the traffic problem considerably, and minimize the number of units available for sale thereby driving the purchase price and reducing the demand for more height. One bedroom or studio units are out of place in Newmarket, as they attract a transient population reliant on public transit; which will not be adequate for their purposes as they want to live and work within walking distance like they do in downtown Toronto. Unless, of course, there is a major commercial development coming to Newmarket that Council is not allowed to speak about yet. 

The second is the issue of life-safety. Newmarket's official plan is based on 8 stories; Emergency services have been provisioned and capitalized based on that assumption. Any deviation from the planned height cap will require the township to review how they have provisioned for those services. If the developer wishes to grow beyond that cap, they should be paying for the extra height - and pass the cost onto the purchasers - not the residents of the town who have already agreed with the official plan. For example, fire trucks can be equipped to reach up to 120 feet or 10 to 12 stories; likely Newmarket has not equipped any of the existing firetrucks to reach that high. So that means new and/or more fire fighting equipment will be required - as well as the fire fighters will have to be trained in high rise fire suppression tactics. The physical conditioning standards for these fire fighters will have to enhanced as they will be required to potentially reach higher floors. 

The same exists for the ambulance service - specialized equipment will be required and potentially more and/or better trained attendants. Imagine having to carry out a person from the 26th floor who has just had a stroke or a heart attack and there is a power failure in the area. The attendants will need a special chair lift to extricate the victim and have to be in top physical condition to complete that task without causing further injury to the victim or themselves. 

Considering the development will be home to two seniors residences, the police services in York will be stretched thin if it ever became necessary for them to lock the development down to search for a missing senior. I spent five years with Metro Toronto Police Services, and was involved in a search for a missing women in Etobicoke. The police locked down and searched a single 16 storey apartment building with four external entrances and an underground parking garage, and it took 40 officers eight hours to execute the search. Imagine if you will the Slessor Square development with two seniors residences or approximately 500 resident seniors, interconnected with three floors of office and retail space, two large buildings and a recreation complex. I can only imagine the number of officers required to lock down and search such a large complex like that - 200, 300 maybe 400 uniformed officers. Given that York region only has 250 to 300 officers on duty at any time, I don't think our police force can handle a call like that. So additional officers will be required or lives may be lost. 

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