A number of Norman and Beech streets residents in Little Italy are opposing a proposed 23-storey highrise development to be built on Norman Street.
The development is a “blockbuster” that sets a precedent for similar developments to pop up along Preston’s smaller side streets, says David Seaborn, chair of the Dalhousie Community Association.
The developer has made an application for official plan and zoning bylaw amendments to accommodate the planned residential tower.
The properties, currently subject to a public comment period, are now designated as “residential low-profile” under a neighbourhood planning document governing the Preston-Champagne area.
At a recent informal meeting at resident Jamie Liew’s home, community members cited concerns about traffic flow, sewer capability, building shadow and changes to the existing zoning set for four-storey development.
Residents say meetings with city planners and developers are often during the workday and, as a result, there has been limited community representation with regards to the Norman Street proposal.
The developer, the local construction firm Taggart Group, could not be reached for comment.
The proposed development “reduces the carbon footprint by providing for compact, vertical living which has a smaller ecological impact,” states the “planning rationale” for the site.
“The design of the four-storey, multiple-attached dwellings is sensitive to the low-rise built form along Norman Street,” the document says.
Liew’s husband, Roman, says the building’s shadow will affect his garden, and that he worries about flooding and damage to his house’s foundation during construction.
The condo on the dead-end street would overlook the O-Train tracks and have 159 units.
The development is in its application stage and is getting mixed reviews from residents and businesses in the area.
A variation of the application for the same property was turned down last fall.
Recently, the application for the nearby Soho Champagne developments passed and will be built, and there is an application for a 32-storey building at the corner of Preston Street and Carling Avenue.
Residents plan a letter-writing campaign to express their opposition to higher zoning.
Intensification is a concern not just for people who live on Norman Street, but for residents of Little Italy who live on similar narrow, dead-end streets close to the O-Train, Seaborn says.
The close proximity of the properties to transit makes applications for higher density more favourable to city planners, Seaborn says.
Somerset Coun. Diane Holmes opposes the current plan for rezoning the site, according to an email circulated to residents.
Based on the proposed Preston Carling Community Design plan, dense, high-rise development would be clustered around Carling but not in the interior section of the community that is currently made up of low-profile family dwellings, Holmes wrote in the email.
Holmes also opposes a road suggested by developers to accommodate the extra traffic. The new road connecting other dead-end streets would replace a section of the multi-use pathway behind the O-Train.
Liew says Holmes opposing the zoning amendment will not be enough to stop the building and that Holmes must make allies on city council.
“We are not opposed to intensification, we are opposed to extreme intensification,” Liew says.
The Norman Street project poses a challenge for already limited parking in the area, and this problem is exacerbated in the winter months when snow banks build up, Liew says. She says she doesn’t know how the street would accommodate up to 159 extra vehicles at peak hours.
“We always knew when we bought the property that there would be development. But the area is zoned for four storeys, not 23,” Liew says.