A post I made here, and cross-posted over to Twitter prior to the municipal elections received some renewed play today and I thought I’d add a few additional thoughts.
First, since I posted those thoughts, Mark Grimes squeaked out a victory and retained his post as Councillor, so from a political perspective, we’re in for more of the same, as the current development trend happened and continues to happen under his watch.
So, why is it a bad thing? We have an Official plan that that calls for increases in density along the thoroughfares but not in the neighbourhoods – and which (if honoured) protects the character of neighbourhoods. South Long Branch is at a critical time in its history. Our population is aging. Just on our block alone, 3 seniors sold their homes in the past year – all to developers. There are many older homes that need work, and rebuilding is not an unreasonable option. If we allow renewal to come in the form of blind development whose primary goal is mining gold from the properties, one day we’re all going to wake up and look around and say what happened? We used to have space and trees and birds and wildlife and now it’s gone. It won’t ever come back.
I think our character neighbourhoods are worth protecting. I want to live here for many years to come. I’m not so concerned with the value of our property as I am with the quality of our community. At an OMB hearing I participated in, I watched a developer team make the argument that severing a lot, cutting down several trees and cramming a pair 3-story homes on the property wouldn’t change the character of the neighbourhood, and at the same hearing I was told my concerns were emotional. It won’t be as bad as all that.
High housing prices and low interest rates have created a perfect environment for the type of slicing and dicing we’re seeing around here. Frankly, a significant hike in interest rates would be more effective than our current Committee of Adjustment/OMB structure in curtailing the trend. With rates so low, it’s been a low risk game for developers.
Meanwhile, I think it’s important for residents to weigh in and talk about the kind of community we want for the future. If you care about how your community evolves, speak up. I recognize that South Long Branch is going to evolve as many of the older residents move on. All I ask is that residents of the community have some voice in what that looks like. I don’t think it’s right that the future of our community be driven solely by lust for gold.
Sometimes the developers around here have even bought properties incognito. We were told by a former homeowner and his real estate agent that a family bought his property and was looking forward to renovating it and raising their children there. It turned out that meant a developer looking to sever the property, cut down the trees, overbuild and walk away with the gold. Right now builders are attracted to our neighbourhood like pirates to buried treasure.
I hope that you get an influx of new neighbours into those houses that are being sold, neighbours who intend to live there and who appreciate the area’s character.