'Give this and other forest lots to people of Penetanguishene,' says resident questioning Fox Street development

·4 min read

Residents attending a public meeting for a development on Fox Street asked for the developer to "give" the lot to people of Penetanguishene.

"Why don’t you give this lot and all the other forest lots to the people of Penetanguishene?" said Ann Kealey. "There wouldn’t be loss of habitat for the animals and birds and bats, or loss of vegetation, or traffic report, or anything. And the people who walk in the forest, or ride their bikes, or snowshoe, or cross-country ski, or just walk with the sun shining on their backs would appreciate it. I know I would."

Similar comments were submitted in writing in advance of the recent evening meeting.

"My main concern arrives when I see that the development of land includes removing almost all trees in this forest," wrote another resident of Penetanguishene, who did not share a name. "This small forest was once dense, being residents to much wildlife seen daily and I am concerned that we are removing yet another habitat in our community."

Andrea Betty, director of planning and community development, addressed those comments.

"We appreciate that comment from the public," she said. "It is similar to ones we heard as part of the staff report. We will be following up with these comments in a future staff report."

Other questions asked during the meeting were answered by Janet Foster, registered professional planner, who was representing Foxpark Development Corporation, and presenting the plan for the 56-unit one-bedroom development.

"We always talk about affordable housing and those definitions range hugely. How would you present that?" asked Coun. Brian Cummings.

Foster said a percentage of the one-storey houses is proposed to be affordable.

"There is a mix, some of it will be life-lease," she said. "It does allow people to put down a certain percentage of money and then a monthly payment that would deal with ongoing expenses. It's almost a form of rental housing, but it's based on a scale depending on how much money you put down and how much you pay in rent. It's not geared to subsidy, but it is another form of housing that could be attainable for seniors."

A member of the public, Stephen deRusett, asked if the life-lease model is similar to the one followed by the Village at Bay Moorings development further down on Fox Street.

"I do believe it is very similar to that model," said Betty. "I don't have the ins and outs and the details, but I do recall that it is a life-lease community at the Village of Bay Moorings."

Coun. George Vadeboncoeur said the term may be different when used in Canada.

"I think the term here is land-lease development," he said. "I've heard the term life-lease used more in the United States than in Canada."

Betty agreed that there was a difference between the two terms.

Vadeboncoeur had another question.

"The video answered my question about parking, but one of the things that did strike me was the amount of asphalt in front of the units," he said. "There's not a lot of green space in front of the units, and that is a bit concerning for me. I'm not sure how much flexibility there is with the design. From my perspective, I'd like to see a bit more greenery between some of the parking spaces."

Foster said they could look at adding those through the site plan.

Coun. Debbie Levy had questions about how the development would handle snow removal.

"We've often seen townhouse development where the developer isn't from here and doesn't take our amounts of snow into consideration," she said. "When I watched the video, the first thing I thought was where would they put the snow?"

Foster said the applicant is from the Georgian Bay snow-belt area and knew well enough about the need for snow removal.

"There are areas for piling of snow, from the east portion of the property that has a generous landscape area," she said. "That has been taken into consideration and it will be something that will be shown in site plans to identify where snow will be piled. The other alternative is to remove snow from the property."

Deputy Mayor Anita Dubeau asked if the project would be completed in phases or all at once.

"Originally, the applicant was looking to come in and develop the first phase, which is already zoned R-3," said Foster. "What we did, in conversations with town staff, is develop a master plan that dealt with the entire development. If zoning happened concurrent with the master plan, then it's possible to have the entire development built at the same time."

Dubeau also asked about access from McGuire Park.

Foster said at this point, road access will only be provided at Fox Street, however, residents will be able to walk to the park from the development.

Mehreen Shahid, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, OrilliaMatters.com