Having carefully considered the proposed 6-story, 157-unit apartment development, I have redirected my attention to analyze the project’s potential implications. Upon closer examination, I have identified several concerns stemming from inadequate planning and perhaps not fully transparent interests. These issues cast doubt on the merits of proceeding with this plan, calling for a more thorough evaluation before moving forward.
Before delving further into this discussion, it is crucial to address and dispel any misconceptions or preconceived notions that some individuals may have regarding the concerns raised by those who disagree with the proposed apartment development.
Firstly, let us address a common assumption: that those expressing concerns are exhibiting racial bias. To be unequivocally clear, there is no basis for such a claim in the context of the points presented in this document. It is vital to emphasize that affordable housing serves people from diverse backgrounds and circumstances, including seniors, persons with disabilities, and working families. It is not exclusive to any particular racial or ethnic group.
The concerns raised in opposition to the proposal are centered on addressing the needs of the entire Georgetown community, irrespective of race or socio-economic status. The focus is on ensuring that the development caters to the requirements of all residents, including those in need of affordable housing, while preserving the community’s unique character and quality of life.
It must be underscored that the issues presented regarding the proposed affordable housing development in Georgetown are not aimed at outright rejection. Instead, they advocate for a more comprehensive study and thoughtful planning process. Numerous community members believe it is imperative to meticulously assess the project’s potential implications on the existing community’s character, infrastructure, and resources. By engaging in transparent dialogue and collaboration, the objective is to develop a well-planned and inclusive project that meets the needs of all residents, resulting in a solution that garners widespread support and benefits everyone.
With that all said, I will now explain the reasoning behind not supporting the proposal to build a new 6-story, 157-unit.
- Lack of developer experience: Kindred Works, founded in 2022, and functioning as the development arm of the United Church of Canada, lacks experience in building and managing apartment complexes. Multiple communities across Canada have raised similar concerns about proposals from Kindred Works and the United Church Corporation. This raises questions about the developer’s ability to complete and manage the proposed project in the future. We urge local authorities to ensure the developer has the necessary skills, resources, and expertise before approving such a project.
- Incompatible design: The proposed apartment building needs to fit in with the character and style of the Georgetown neighbourhood. As a small community, Georgetown’s charm comes from its distinct character, and a large apartment building may disrupt this. Affordable housing in Ontario must comply with the same building restrictions and design standards as market-rate housing, according to the Ontario Human Rights Code. We ask local authorities to reject this proposal or work with us to find a more appropriate and sustainable solution that maintains the character of our community.
- Overcrowding and infrastructure strain: The proposed apartment building will add many new residents to Georgetown, a small community with limited infrastructure. This increase in population will put pressure on the Georgetown Hospital, the availability of family doctors, school and daycare capacities, and public services. It may also lead to longer wait times at the hospital and difficulties in obtaining police or by-law officer responses.
- Traffic and safety concerns: The new development will increase traffic congestion in Georgetown, making it more difficult to navigate and potentially increasing safety risks for pedestrians and cyclists. The current infrastructure may need to be prepared to accommodate this growth, and additional cars and traffic may pose concerns for school bus stops and other main arteries in the area.
- Lack of priority for local residents: Kindred Works has confirmed that there is no priority for Halton Hills residents who are in need of subsidized housing, despite the United Church’s claim that this project is intended to service our community. With approximately 4,000 people on the regional waitlist for subsidized housing, the proposed apartment building may not address the needs of local residents.
- Parking and transportation issues: The proposed apartment building may result in parking shortages and increased traffic congestion, as it provides only 1.24 parking spaces per unit instead of the 1.75 required by the town’s by-law. Furthermore, Georgetown’s limited public transit options may not be able to accommodate the increased demand from new residents.
- Tax implications and reduced property values: The presence of a large apartment building may decrease the value of nearby homes, making it harder for residents to sell their homes and attract new buyers. The United Church, as the property owner, may not be held to the same tax standards as residents, potentially impacting community taxes. Halton Hills has already experienced a 6.62% increase in taxes this year, which may be difficult for the town and residents to afford.
- Declining United Church membership: The United Church’s membership has been declining rapidly, with its percentage of Canadian affiliated members decreasing from 6.2% in 2011 to 3.1% in 2021. The proposal to build the apartment complex may be a corporate effort to generate revenue and attract new members, rather than genuinely addressing the community’s needs for affordable housing.
The downside of Affordable Housing
We recognize the need for affordable housing in Ontario and Georgetown; however, we disagree with the proposed location and its ability to serve the needs of the current residents of Halton Hills, who are already struggling with a lack of infrastructure and resources. We ask that local authorities carefully consider these concerns and work with the community to find alternative solutions that better address the needs of the community while maintaining Georgetown’s unique character and quality of life.
While specific examples of negative results from similar developments in Ontario may be difficult to pinpoint, some general concerns and consequences can arise from such projects. These concerns may not apply to every development, but they represent potential risks that can be observed in some cases:
- Toronto – Regent Park: Regent Park, a large public housing project in Toronto, was built in the late 1940s and early 1950s to provide affordable housing. However, the area faced numerous social and economic challenges, including crime, unemployment, and a lack of investment in infrastructure. The neighbourhood underwent a revitalization process starting in the early 2000s to address these issues, but the project serves as an example of the potential negative consequences that can arise from poorly planned housing developments.
- Mississauga – Malton: Malton, a neighborhood in Mississauga, has faced challenges related to crime and a lack of community cohesion following the construction of multiple low-income housing projects. While not all affordable housing developments lead to such issues, it illustrates the importance of considering the social and economic effects on a community when planning housing projects.
- Kingston – Rideau Heights: Rideau Heights, a neighborhood in Kingston, Ontario, was developed as a social housing community in the 1960s and 1970s. Over the years, the area struggled with poverty, crime, and a lack of social services. Kingston has been working on a regeneration strategy for the neighborhood since 2016, but the situation in Rideau Heights serves as an example of the potential consequences of inadequate planning and lack of resources for affordable housing projects.
These examples demonstrate that the potential negative effects of affordable housing projects are not unique to Georgetown, Ontario. It is essential to carefully consider the potential consequences and ensure that proper planning, resources, and community engagement are in place to minimize these risks and create successful, sustainable housing developments that benefit the community.
The Unavoidable Realities
Developing new housing projects, particularly those that include subsidized or low-income units, can sometimes be associated with increased crime rates and degradation of property values in the surrounding area. It is important to note that these risks are not guaranteed to occur. Still, they represent potential concerns that should be considered during the planning and implementation stages of such projects.
Introducing a high-density residential complex, particularly if it includes subsidized housing, may lead to an increase in the local population. This influx of new residents can sometimes result in a rise in crime rates. Factors that may contribute to this increase include:
- Higher population density: Areas with higher population densities can sometimes experience elevated crime rates due to increased criminal activity opportunities.
- Social and economic challenges: Low-income residents may face social and economic challenges that could lead to criminal behaviour. This can include a need for more employment opportunities, education, and access to social services.
- Community cohesion: A lack of social cohesion or integration between new residents and the existing community can sometimes result in conflicts and increased criminal activity.
It is crucial to emphasize that not all affordable housing developments lead to an increase in crime. Many factors, such as effective community policing, adequate social services, and proper urban planning, can help mitigate these risks.
- Property value degradation:
The development of a large, high-density apartment complex, particularly one that includes subsidized units, can potentially lead to a decrease in property values in the surrounding area. Factors that may contribute to this decrease include:
- Perception of crime and safety: A perceived increase in crime or safety concerns can deter potential homebuyers and lower demand for properties in the area, leading to decreased property values.
- Changes in neighbourhood character: The introduction of a large apartment building may disrupt the character of an established neighbourhood, which can negatively impact the area’s desirability for potential homebuyers.
- Overcrowding and strain on local infrastructure: Increasing population density can put additional pressure on local infrastructure and public services, such as schools, transportation, and healthcare facilities. This strain can make the area less attractive to potential buyers, which may result in lower property values.
To mitigate these risks, it is essential to engage in careful planning, community consultation, and the provision of adequate resources and infrastructure to support the new development. Doing so makes it possible to create successful, sustainable housing projects that positively contribute to the community and maintain property values.
Before embarking on a new housing development project, especially one that involves high-density residential units, it is crucial to conduct comprehensive traffic impact studies to understand the potential effects on the existing road network and address any safety concerns. These studies typically involve the following components:
- Traffic volume projections: Traffic impact studies estimate the number of new vehicle trips the proposed development generates. This information can help planners and engineers understand how the development will affect the overall traffic volume on the surrounding road network.
- Intersection and roadway capacity analysis: The studies assess the capacity of existing intersections and roadways to accommodate the anticipated increase in traffic volume. This analysis helps identify potential bottlenecks, congestion points, and areas that may require improvements or upgrades to maintain acceptable service levels.
- Traffic safety assessment: The studies evaluate the potential safety risks associated with the increased traffic volume, including pedestrian and cyclist safety. This assessment considers factors such as sightlines, vehicle speeds, roadway geometry, and the potential for shortcuts through residential areas, which can lead to increased traffic on local streets not designed to handle high volumes of vehicles.
- Traffic management and mitigation measures: Based on the findings of the traffic impact studies, planners and engineers can propose traffic management and mitigation measures to address the identified issues. These measures can include the installation of traffic signals or roundabouts, adding turn lanes or pedestrian crossings, improving roadway geometry, and implementing traffic calming measures in residential areas to discourage shortcut-taking and reduce vehicle speeds. By incorporating these strategies, it is possible to minimize the negative effects of increased traffic resulting from the new housing development and maintain the safety and functionality of the existing road network.
- Proximity to schools: One of the critical factors to consider in traffic impact studies for new housing developments is the proximity to schools. A high-density residential complex near a school can significantly increase traffic during drop-off and pick-up times, exacerbating congestion and safety risks for students, parents, and staff.
- Increased traffic near schools can pose several challenges:
- Pedestrian safety: With more vehicles on the road, there is an increased risk of accidents involving pedestrians, especially young students walking or cycling to and from school.
- School bus operations: The additional traffic may interfere with school bus operations, causing delays and affecting school transportation efficiency.
- Parking issues: The increased traffic may lead to higher demand for parking spaces during school events, resulting in vehicles parking on nearby residential streets and potentially causing conflicts with local residents.
- Traffic congestion: High traffic volumes near schools can lead to congestion on surrounding streets, increasing travel times and causing inconvenience to both local residents and those commuting through the area. Traffic impact studies should include specific assessments and recommendations related to the school’s proximity to address these concerns. Potential solutions may involve:
- School zone improvements: Implementing measures such as lower speed limits, additional signage, and enhanced crosswalks to improve pedestrian safety in the school zone.
- Traffic calming measures: Installing speed bumps, chicanes, or curb extensions on residential streets to discourage shortcut-taking and reduce vehicle speeds near the school. Additionally, by considering the unique challenges posed by the development’s proximity to a school, traffic impact studies can help ensure that the new housing project is maintained for the safety and well-being of students, staff, and residents.- 13. Parking management: Developing strategies to manage parking demand during school events, such as designated parking areas or shared parking agreements with nearby facilities.
- Active transportation infrastructure: Encouraging walking and cycling to school by improving pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure, such as sidewalks, bike lanes, and secure bicycle parking.
As a community, we must stand together and reject the proposed 6-story, 157-unit apartment development at 14015 Danby Road in Georgetown, Ontario. This project needs proper planning and transparent interests, posing significant concerns for the community’s character and quality of life. We reject this proposal and demand a more thorough evaluation considering the potential implications of such a development. We call on local authorities to work with us to find an appropriate and sustainable solution that meets the needs of all residents while preserving our unique community.
While no specific agreements prevent non-profit organizations like Kindred Works from changing their profit draws, they are legally required to operate in the public interest and use their resources for charitable purposes. Any changes to their financial management practices must comply with these regulations and be approved by their governing board.
In general, non-profit organizations operate differently from for-profit businesses, prioritizing their mission and social goals over generating profits. As such, the focus is on generating enough revenue to fund its operations and fulfill its mission rather than maximizing profits