Collingwood residents concerned about proposed development
Residents Loretta McGuirk and Rebecca Cormier in front of site where all the trees were destroyed. -Collingwood Connection photo
Unexpected tree-cutting sparks anger
A group of residents are concerned about the impact a proposed commercial development will have on their neighbourhood.
Parkbridge Lifestyle Communities purchased a 3.2-acre site on Huron Street from the municipality last year. It plans to construct its national headquarters for upwards of 140 employees.
The property was a landfill site in the 1920s and ’30s that was given to the town for “public purposes,” in 1971 by the federal government. It’s currently zoned recreation and the company is seeking a re-zoning to downtown core commercial.
The company was granted approval to destroy trees on the property earlier this month, which irked the residents.
Loretta McGuirk said residents received a letter on March 30 that the company would be proceeding with cutting trees and she said the work started several days later.
McGuirk said residents were disappointed the town and the company didn’t give more notice of the tree cutting.
“Our anger comes from them not involving us in the process,” she said. “It makes you feel like you’ve been betrayed.”
Robert Voigt, director of planning for Parkbridge, said the company followed the protocol set out by the town, which included hand-delivering letters and posting a sign on the site. He said they had to complete the work before April 15 to avoid bird breeding season.
The property is a former landfill site that was given to the town for “public purposes” in 1971 and Voigt said they are required to clean up the site.
“To do that, we’ve got to remove the trees,” he said.
Rebecca Cormier lives on Niagara Street right behind the proposed site. She has concerns about the size and scope of the proposed development.
Voigt said the initial plans are for a four-storey building but they are still working on details.
“When you look at the old Cinema 4 building (40 Huron St) that’s only three storeys,” Cormier said. “Imagine how intrusive a four storey building is going to be.”
McGuirk said there are other concerns, such as an increase in traffic in the area.
“You’ve got major amount of traffic coming in and out of a residential area,” she said.
“Now we’ve got to worry about all of these extra cars.”
Voigt said the company plans to do a traffic study and he expects most of the traffic will be coming from Huron Street as a proposed entrance on Simcoe Street is largely for access.
Cormier said going from abutting onto a vacant property to now being next to a large commercial building, could dramatically impact the property values in the area.
As part of their official plan and zoning bylaw amendment, the town and Parkbridge will be required to hold a public meeting.
Voigt said the company held a public open house on April 16 and plans to hold similar meetings to listen to residents’ concerns.
“We’ve got an engagement strategy,” he said. “We want to go talk to our new neighbours.”