12-storey buildings in Stratford plan concern some residents

A conceptual rendering of the urban core proposed by The Gray Group. (Tony Davis/CBC - image credit)
A conceptual rendering of the urban core proposed by The Gray Group. (Tony Davis/CBC - image credit)

Some residents of Stratford, P.E.I., have concerns about tall buildings proposed as part of a development that would add an urban core to the town.

The Gray Group, developers of the property along the Trans-Canada Highway east of Hillsborough Bridge, are calling it the Crossroads.

About 60 people attended a public meeting Stratford Town Hall Wednesday night to hear the 20-year development plan, which includes more 2,600 units. It would be a mix of residential — townhouses and multi-unit buildings — along with new commercial and light industrial space.

Ten people voiced concerns in person or virtually during a public meeting. Many of them were concerned about allowing rezoning to accommodate 12-storey buildings.

Tony Davis/CBC
Tony Davis/CBC

The buildings would be the tallest on P.E.I. Residents said they were worried those buildings being placed near Shakespeare Drive may cast shadows onto their homes, cut off views and drop property values.

"We certainly understand the concerns people have", said Trevor MacLeod, president of The Gray Group, adding the plan is just its conceptual phase.

"We will be doing shadow studies to make sure we minimize the impact on the neighbouring properties. We've also tiered our development so that the highest properties are actually closest to the highway and they go down in height as they approach existing homes."

The plan is for two to three 12-storey buildings, he said. Currently the maximum number of storey for a building in the is four, MacLeod said.

"The need for housing on P.E.I. as it stands right now, I think it really warrants looking at higher properties," he said.

Concern for environment

As for the value of adjacent properties, MacLeod is hopeful they would go up.

"As more development happens in a community it tends to drive up the property value of those surrounding it," he said.

Tony Davis/CBC
Tony Davis/CBC

Others at the meeting were concerned about the environmental impact. The long-term development project would span more than 40 hectares in the town's core.

"What we are trying to do is minimize the environmental impact by creating additional infrastructure, additional roadworks," he said.

"We are looking at green roofs. We are looking at alternative energy sources and pilot projects to create energy and store energy onsite. To use existing rainwater for irrigation for our real estate."

The Gray Group is also working with watershed groups in the area, MacLeod said.

Tony Davis/CBC
Tony Davis/CBC

Some were also concerned about traffic. Some new roundabouts in Stratford are part of the group's plans to help build new roads and underground parking to manage and improve existing traffic flow, MacLeod said.

About four residents spoke at the meeting who were in favour of the project.

Viola Evans-Murley has lived in Stratford for 56 years.

"Living in Stratford for the number of years that I've been and watching it grow and develop, it is busting at the seams," she said.

"We need to grow and we need to be able to accommodate and have a strong infrastructure. It's excellent for the town, for the people from the very young to the seniors."

Government funding?

The plan is expected to cost over $1 billion, MacLeod said.

There could be role for government funding, he said, with some affordable housing included in the infrastructure.

MacLeod didn't have a breakdown of what portion of the development would be designated as rental units.

A new planning board for Stratford is being formed following the municipal election. That board will make a recommendation to town council on whether the project should go forward. Council is expected to vote on the development early in the new year.

Residents have until noon on Nov. 30 to submit written comments on the development plan.