As I wrote in my last post, I’ve been more out of the loop in London politics and activity than I’d like, and I hope in time to get more involved again. Having said that, I didn’t think I’d be back into it this soon.

Last week, we discovered that an empty lot (193 Clarke Road) very close to our house is being considered to an infill development project. This is the project (as stated in this article):

The project, a one-storey, 14-unit structure planned by a group of people with autistic children, is slated for a long-vacant lot in a neighbourhood along Clarke Rd. — and has the endorsement of city hall’s planning staff.

The community reaction to the project has been very negative:

But neighbours, stressing the building doesn’t fit their established east-end community, have pushed back hard, along with ward Coun. Bill Armstrong.

I find this extremely disappointing. The planning staff have endorsed the project. They have the constant challenge of trying to encourage infill developments wherever possible instead of seeing city growth continue to push against the urban growth boundary, yet when an excellent opportunity to develop happens, the community pushes hard against it.

This is the site in question:

193 clarke road map

As Councillor Armstrong says, from this perspective, the surrounding neighbourhood is all residential. But the plan is a single storey building actually shorter than the surrounding houses, and as this map shows, it is a massive lot.

Now look at this map, east and north of the site:

193 clarke road map

The site is on Clarke Road, a major city artery, and across and to the north of the site are an elementary school, a church, a secondary school, a city arena, and behind is medium and high density residences. To the south at Trafalgar and further is all commercial zoning, including one of Argyle’s largest shopping areas outside the mall itself. I absolutely don’t accept the argument that a modestly-sized apartment is not in keeping with the rest of the community.

Finally, there is the site itself:

photo of 193 clarke road

Currently, 193 Clarke Road is unlit, uncontrolled and unsafe. The site is used as an unofficial neighbourhood park, but it is also an unofficial dump, often used for disposing of garbage and shopping carts. I think the plan for this site is excellent, and having someone taking ownership and responsibility for the property would be a positive move for the community.

Though I’m sorry to see this project delayed, I’m glad that there will be further community consultation on this project, and that Sarah and I will be able to voice our support for the project in a public forum. I’m also glad to have time to be able to write to Councillor Armstrong and the rest of Council to say that I think that the design is the kind of project we should support in our community, and encourage to happen across London.

This is the letter we have submitted to Council:

To City Council,

I’m writing today to voice my support for the proposed development at 193 Clarke Road. I live very close to the site, and believe that what is being proposed is an ideal use of the site. I look forward to more information at the next public meeting about the engineering specifics of how the site will be laid out, but I believe the single-story apartments proposed are an excellent use of the space, especially since planning staff believe the site is properly situated and zoned for the use.

We should always strive to find good use of existing city structure, instead of continuing to develop and sprawl outward. As well, the site is currently uncontrolled, unlit and unsafe, so a cohesive plan to have the area developed, controlled and maintained by an owner is a positive step for the community. There are properties that connect to the proposed site that may be impacted as the site is developed, but I feel it is unfair to expect that this space would remain unutilized forever.

This site is ideally situated to the use proposed. 193 Clarke Road is along a major city artery, easily accessible to residents and visitors. The neighbourhood has a mix of uses and densities, has a bus stop to several routes very close-by, and is very close to two shopping centres, Argyle Mall and the shopping plaza at Clarke & Trafalgar.

Finally, as a member of the Argyle Community Association and the Strengthening Neighbourhoods Argyle Steering Committee, it is my understanding that our community wants to be welcoming, compassionate and inclusive. The strong opposition to this plan sends the wrong signals to the parents’ group, It’s Our Home, to the rest of the city and the greater world about the nature of our great community.

Thank you for your consideration. Sincerely,

Brian & Sarah Gibson

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