Comment 433

By KS (anonymous) | Posted April 26, 2006 at 16:05:21

As a nearby resident I attended the public information meeting where some of my neighbours expressed their fears of density. You are correct to describe their response as rampant NIMBYism, but you've missed some subtleties, which I think are interesting when evaluating such events.

First, no row housing. The Frisina brothers presented a plan for a combination of detached, single homes facing East 8th St. and a short, private road of semi-detached dwellings, with a minimum estimated value of $200,000 each. That's more than I'd get for my place built half a block away in the 1920s. Hardly high-density stuff. Most of those expressing fears of density were older than I am, which means they moved into the area with children who have since grown and left the area. It would take more than a small apartment building to raise this neighbourhood's density to levels that existed when these conscientious objectors first took on their mortgages.

Second, you're a bit off on your demographics. True, many of the homes between Inverness and Fennell, Upper Wellington and Upper James, are solid, working-class fare, and much of it pre- and immediately post-war, but the objections to the new homes came largely from owners of newer dwellings in the blocks just north of Bruce Park. This area was initially a survey of small, temporary, post-war cottages, quickly built to accommodate returning, family-minded troops. Some of these houses, raised over basements and with additions and dormers, still exist in surrounding streets. In the sixties whole blocks of these homes were shifted to the area of Upper Wentworth and Mohawk Rd. E. to be used as subsidized housing (again, temporarily, though it took roughly twenty years to knock them down for row housing.) The vacated land was developed with then fashionable, detached, ranch-style bungalos and side-splits on spacious lots. Apparently some who purchased these homes were promised in the sixties that no homes would be built in the surrounding neighbourhood unlike their own. And they believed it. So they did not much object to the detached dwellings intended to face East 8th, but the semis apparently are an unanticipated horror, despite the fact that there is a survey of townhomes along Brucedale Ave. by Upper James that seems to have blended into the community quite well.

Third, Queensdale between Uppers Wellington and James is not a bus route unless there's construction or some other impediment along Inverness. The area is well served by three routes, Upper James, which runs along Inverness, Upper Ottawa, which runs up Wellington to Queensdale before turning east, and Upper Wellington, which, well, runs up Upper Wellington. Oh, and Fennell, running east and west to the south of the community. With this, the aforementioned park and the public and separate schools both in this area, it's been an ideal area to raise a family. Sometimes, though, through traffic along Brucedale and Queensdale makes things a touch testy.

You can imagine my surprise when neighbours described the terror with which they approached the intersection of Queensdale and Upper Wellington. Queensdale jogs at this corner, making a left turn somewhat awkward. Some don't know whether to signal left/right for a straight down Queensdale, some just don't know what to do. Generally people proceed cautiously, and figure it out as they go. I can't remember an accident at that corner in the almost thirty years I've lived nearby. Then again, I might have missed one or two, but when I heard that some folks hadn't been able to solve the intersection in their nearly forty years of residence, and that they anticipated another thirty homes will plunge the intersection into chaos, I knew it was time to leave the meeting, before I got on a rant about the driving skills of seniors.

On further perception I'd like to address, however, is the notion that his area is suburban. The idea is supported by the escarpment, and separation into an upper and lower city, which fuelled some residents' objections to infilling. Even when I was a kid, living further south than I do now, and almost at the then city limits at Mohawk Road, I could walk down the James St. steps quite comfortably for weekly swimming lessons. Now, any one of those three bus routes I mentioned will get me to King and James, or the GO station and on a bus to TO, within ten minutes. With the city now stretching from Cambridge to Grimsby to Caledonia, I figure I'm pretty much in the thick of things. People in the so-called "suburb" of the central mountain can't continue kicking the lower city and imagine we're not bruising ourselves.

I know I'm downtown, looking forward to meeting my new neighbours, and walking to the even wider range of businesses and services they will help to support nearby.

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