Two six-storey apartment buildings are supported

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The city’s planning and administration committee supports a zoning bylaw amendment that would allow Multani Homes to build two six-story apartment buildings on Grand River Avenue.

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Each building would have 93 units, including 43 one-bedroom, 40 two-bedroom and 10 three-bedroom units. A six-story, 132-unit apartment building called Grand River View already exists on the site.

City planning staff recommend approval of the rezoning.

The property – at 248-260 Grand River Ave. – is located on the south side of the Grand River, between Jamieson Court and St. Paul Avenue. The land at 248 Grand River Ave. was once the site of the Penmans factory, a textile manufacturer, and has been considered for a number of development projects over the years.

In 2017, the owners received city approval to develop the six-story, 24-unit townhouse apartment building at 248 Grand River Ave. The apartment was built in 2020. Earlier this year, a request was received by the city to change the boundary of the development to include 256, 258, and 260 Grand River Ave.

While several residents of Grand River View Apartments have spoken in favor of the construction of the two new buildings, Coun. John Sless said other residents in the neighborhood had concerns.

“I’ve had an overwhelming number of calls and emails from people opposed to this,” he said. “The 24 townhouses already approved would make the neighborhood more beautiful and safe. I think asking for more than double the approved number of homes on this property is beyond pale. Holmedale has been hammered with new developments. People are overwhelmed living there.

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“It’s too dense a development. I understand we have a housing crisis, but we’re not going to solve everything on Grand River Avenue.

Several councilors expressed concern about the proposed number of parking spaces – just over one per unit. But KC Pongracz, a senior city planner, said apartment dwellers often don’t need a parking space.

A local resident said parking at Grand River View Apartments is underutilized as tenants are required to pay for spaces and some choose to park on the street instead. Com. Greg Martin has won the support of his fellow councilors for the approval of the zoning amendment which will be conditional on the removal of these parking fees.

“I think parking could still be an issue, but it will help ease some neighbor concerns,” Martin said.

The possibility of implementing a parking permit system in the neighborhood was also discussed.

Mayor Kevin Davis, who backed the project, said “if you’re not building more housing, you’re not addressing the root cause” of the housing crisis.

“We hear over and over again that as a province we’re not producing enough units,” Davis said. “That’s why the price (of housing) keeps going up. The demand is there but there is no supply. It’s just basic economics.

He added that the city also suffered from a shortage of rental housing, with a vacancy rate of around 1.9%.

Sless said the proposed apartments will not be affordable housing, but will be offered at market rent and will likely eventually be converted into condos.

He said he’s also heard from people who want the waterfront protected from development.

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