Like many of you, I have noticed that the proposed condo build on Kingston Rd. seems to be moving along at a fast clip. VHL has set up a sales centre on the site of the old Hasty Market complete with demo suites installed. Upon entering the office, I noticed colourful photos of some of their past builds, as well as all the plans for this particular site. I spoke briefly to one of the young salespeople about the build and what to expect. I was told that the building would house 250 residential units, plus retail suites on the ground floor. I neglected to ask how many floors they were expecting to build, but the salesperson remarked that any folks who were on the 6th or 7th floor or above would have excellent lake views. From the drawings, it looks like the building is somewhere around 12 floors to me.
Which brings me to the next piece of business. When I asked City Councillor Gary Crawford the week before about the project, he informed me that VHL had not even applied for permits yet. After my visit to the sales office, I asked him how they could be selling units without approval to build. His response was that VHL already did own the land, and by law they could pre-sell units, and that if they were not approved, it would be between the buyer and the seller. Well, caveat emptor! It makes me wonder what could be in the sales agreement contract at the time the buyer makes their down payment.
Back at the sales office, I asked the salespeople how they could sell units without a permit. They all became very nervous, and one remarked that I was making them feel uncomfortable. I assured them that I was just a concerned community member and wanted to know what was going on in my area. The visit culminated with a cheery well-dressed 20-something leading me proudly around the show suite and extolling the virtues of stainless steel appliances and my choice of tile finish in the bathroom.
I cannot even begin to express my concerns with these sales tactics and the actual proposed build. Firstly, the building is huge. Do we really believe for one second that our overburdened sewer system and power grid can safely house this much more strain? How do you feel about another potential 250 cars on that strip of Kingston Rd.? There is no doubt that this will have a massive effect on the infrastructure of this neighbourhood, and unless the City is willing to invest in major upgrades, this project is not looking like the answer to our call for revitalization. Councillor Crawford has already indicated that he is in support of the project, and in development of the area in general. He has also noted that VHL will be submitting their final proposal to the City shortly, and then the Planning Division will decide whether the project is feasible. He states that there will be a full community consultation as part of the process.
Now, the real question is what you, the community, will do as part of this process. This area has been deteriorating for a long time without any real solid plan for revitalization and redevelopment. As a result, it was only a matter of time before a corporation or a politician moved in and started making their own plans for this neighbourhood.
I can see many cons with this type of project, and not very many pros. I find it worrisome that we sit upon one of the geological wonders of the globe, and what little is left of it will almost certainly be destroyed with the influx of new people who will likely see this area as nothing more than a weekend recreation zone. I can see that the demand for the trails to be paved will come to the fore once again, as well as other amenities that will serve no other purpose than to make their weekly or monthly jaunt out on the cliffs, safer, less wild and dangerous, and less dirty. If this sounds like a cynical view, take a trip on down to another neighbourhood that has already experienced gentrification and intensification. You will see what the future of Kingston Rd. really looks like.