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Councillors defer decision on development of 11 highrises at Kerr and Speers

Town of Oakville
Town of Oakville

It’s beginning to look a lot like election season.

Politicking was on the agenda this week, as councillors, the mayor and political hopefuls all jockeyed for position at the Sept. 6 planning and development council meeting.

With a municipal election scheduled for Oct. 24, Oakville’s normally decisive council appeared to suddenly shy away from controversy.

That led to the deferral of almost every contentious issue on the agenda.

Kerr Street plaza redevelopment

Council deferred a decision on a comprehensive development plan to replace the shopping plaza at the northwest corner of Kerr Street and Speers Road with 11 condo buildings ranging in height from 8 to 28 storeys.

A recommendation from town staff to approve the development proposal will now come to a planning and development meeting on Dec. 5.

The proposed long-term vision for the 4.8 hectare plaza includes:

  • About 1,841 residential units in 11 buildings ranging in height from 8 storeys to 28 storeys
  • Ground floor commercial uses including a potential food store. The existing plaza contains a Food Basics grocery store and a Shoppers Drug Mart.
  • An urban square at the corner of Kerr and Speers
  • A new park, sized to be about .4 hectares or one acre
  • New roads and road extensions

Detailed plans and approvals for the various buildings and elements will be required as the plan moves forward.

Town of Oakville
Town of Oakville

In previous public meetings, residents have expressed concerns about the proposed density and building heights and the traffic that will be generated by the development.

The deferral offers the public an additional two months to review the staff report, said Ward 2 councillor Cathy Duddeck.

"It’s a very, very – what shall I say? – huge item. Huge impact on the area and huge impact on the Oakville community," she said. "We have one chance to do it and we want to get it right."

Two new Ward 7 subdivisions deferred

The town’s planners also recommended approval of two new subdivisions on the south side of Burnhamthorpe Road near Sixth Line.

Four other developments in the immediate area have recently been approved, noted town planner Rob Thun.

Up for approval was:

  • An application by Star Oak Developments to develop 23.5 hectares of land at 90 Burnhamthorpe Rd. W. The subdivision would include 196 residential units (128 townhouse, 68 detached dwellings), a stormwater management pond and two natural heritage system blocks associated with the West Morrison Creek.
  • An application from Docasa Group Ltd to build 431 dwellings (123 detached, 56 semi-detached, 104 lane-based and street-based townhouses and 148 units in two mid-rise buildings) on 18.5 hectares. The subdivision would include an elementary school block, a park block and a natural heritage system block.

Ward 7 councillor Pavan Parmar moved a motion to defer the subdivisions until town staff report back on a long-overdue parking strategy.

That strategy, originally scheduled to be completed by spring 2020, is expected to come to council in the first few months of 2023.

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However, town planning director Gabe Charles previously told councillors that any changes recommended in the parking strategy would require related zoning bylaw changes. That means that the forthcoming update is unlikely to have any impact on developments already in the approval process.

Town staff have also repeatedly made it clear they are not supportive of significant changes to the rules that require developers to build less parking in North Oakville than anywhere else in the town.

Those rules have created significant parking problems in the densely developed communities north of Dundas Street.

Despite all of that, council voted unanimously to defer the recommended subdivisions, with Mayor Rob Burton optimistically noting, "What we’re trying to do here is improve the liveability of North Oakville."

The deferral also had the effect of eliminating the opportunity for council challengers to speak publicly on the topic.

That led Shahab Khan, a registered candidate for the Ward 7 town seat, to rush the microphone after the deferral and request the right to ask questions on the issue.

"I was a delegate and wanted to ask two questions about that issue," said Khan, in an email sent to Oakville News after the meeting. "When it was deferred my two questions still were relevant."

His microphone was shut off, but the mayor called him out of order and admonished him for not abiding by the rules.

Truck traffic worries residents

Khan said nearly 50 North Oakville residents were at the council meeting to talk about concerns related to truck traffic in the area of a new public high school planned near the northwest corner of Sixth Line and Burnhamthorpe Road West.

Several residents spoke to that issue earlier in the evening when council approved a minor zoning change to allow the school to move forward.

They told councillors they wanted the school approved but were unhappy with truck traffic using Loyalist Trail to access employment lands south of William Halton Parkway.

Ward 7 council candidates Khan and Gregory Park also spoke to the issue.

Park said many of the area’s residents are newcomers who are not happy with the neighbourhood environment.

"They expected a very comfortable life in Oakville but the reality in Ward 7 is not like that. It’s every day construction dust flows and noise and unsafety measure is condoned," said Park.

Ward 7 councillor Jasvinder Sandhu said it is important to get shovels in the ground to get the school built for its intended opening of 2025.

"We need to make sure that kids who are graduating from elementary school have a place to go."