Shrink Slessor Square!

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Briefing from the Residents Group Opposed to Slessor Square

Our sister organisation - the Residents Group Opposed to Slessor Square - has produced this excellent briefing, submitted by the Group's spokesperson Anna O'Rourke. It will help to inform the debate when councillors meet on 4 February 2013 to consider the Slessor proposals.

The Residents Group Opposed to Slessor Square represents a significant group of people who are deeply concerned about the immediate and long-term implications of the Slessor Square Adult Lifestyles Condominium project proposed by Dwight Slessor Holdings Inc.

At 23 & 26 stories (with approval sought for 29 stories max), 774 persons/jobs/hectare and 446 units/hectare the height and density of the project is far in excess of the 200-250 persons+jobs/hectare and 125 units/hectare indicated in various Provincial, Regional and Town planning documents. It also exceeds the stated maximums of 125 units/hectare and FSI of 1.0 indicated in the town’s Official Plan for Phase 1 development.

It is an extreme departure from the progressive and reasonable intensification of Newmarket’s core and is not consistent with the guidelines for intensification targets or the wishes of the citizens of Newmarket.

Our Primary Concerns:

Height

  • At 26 and 23 stories (as submitted with 3 story commercial platforms) (23 stories- 73.92 m (242.5 ft.) 26 stories – 81.87 m (268.6 ft.)  The relief sought by the By-law application is for 26 & 29 stories which would make the tallest tower approximately 89.82 m (294.68 ft.) almost 3 times the height of the highest buildings in Newmarket.
  • Close proximity of the project to residential off George St.
  • Current proposed 15 story cap under review
  • Existing residential consists of half a dozen buildings at 10-12 stories scattered across town.

Density

  • FSI of 3.63 vs. 1.0 permitted in the Town Plan in Phase 1 and 2.5 minimum indicated in the Regional Growth Plan.
  • 446 units/hectare vs. 125 maximum permitted in the Town Plan.
  • 774 persons+jobs/hectare vs. 200-250 minimum   and a maximum of 349 as the projected goal in the Regional and Town Plans by 2031.

Traffic

  • The most recent traffic study indicates that the Slessor Development will add 542 rush-hour trips to the already overloaded Yonge/Davis corridors.
  • The only Regional collector road egress is Yonge St. The development would add 542 rush hour trips to an already grid-locked Yonge St.
  • George St. is a local collector street not suited to handle overflow. It also exits at Davis Dr. and Yonge St. via Kingston Rd. providing no ancillary relief to traffic overflow. Bleed out into the residential areas to the north and east is unacceptable.


Our Supplementary Concerns

  • Lack of truly “affordable” housing – 35% of the development will be under $300,000 which is classified as the accepted affordability index. Newmarket recently ranked 13th overall in the MoneySense survey of the quality of life in 190 cities around the world but was 143rd on the affordability ranking. There are upwards of 10,000 people in Newmarket/Aurora living below the poverty line.
  • Setbacks, stepbacks and angular planes – Buildings on George St. have only a 3.46 m setback from the property line.
  • Impacts on future infrastructure support costs
  • Cash payments “in lieu of” parkland and greenspace provisions. Parkland should be included in the plan to respond to intensification guidelines for urban spaces. We have no assurance that this “in lieu of” money will be spent beautifying the intensification corridor.
  • The inability of emergency services to adequately respond to situations at the site.

Our Expectations:

  • Reduce the height and density of the project by 50% (15 stories or 150 ft. / 390 jobs/persons/hectare / 1.8 FS|). This still meets and exceeds all intensification targets set by the province, the region and the town while creating manageable, sustainable growth.
  • Reduce the proposed 446 units/hectare to the permitted maximum of 125 indicated in the Official Plan.
  • Approve 15 (150 ft.) story cap on future developments and a limit of 390 persons+jobs/hectare on future density. Hold FSI to the regionally recommended 2.5. Allow additional stories or density in exchange for other indicated expectations in the intensification guidelines i.e.  affordable housing units, additional public spaces etc.
  • Require the provision of a percentage  (5%) of units of any development at no charge for assisted or low-income individuals with condo fees waived in perpetuity (see OMB Greatlands Development decision in Richmond Hill)
  • Provide setbacks, stepbacks and required angular planes (45 degrees) from lot lines to reduce the footprint and impact of this and future projects on George St. and other residential neighbourhoods.
  • Require mixed use low-rise commercial/retail/residential for street-level built form and higher density (see previous slide) in developments stepped back behind this to reduce imposing street level designs.
  • Require developers to fund undergrounding of hydro as part of their project costs.
  • Require developments to conform to traffic growth load factors in their density and built form to ensure growth can be managed.
  • Require underground parking as part of all major developments in the intensification corridor to provide above ground use for greenspace provision.

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