‘A lost opportunity’: Revamped Garrison Road development gets approval despite misgivings

It took changes from an earlier version, a couple amendments from Fort Erie’s mayor, and some town politicians accepting the property wasn’t going to be everything they hoped for, but a Garrison Road development proposal has been approved.

Credit: Town of Fort Erie

The land, located at 1127 Garrison Road, had come to council in the form of a public meeting earlier this spring. At that meeting, councillors expressed their disapproval of the plan.

Following the meeting, the developers revised the proposal, reducing the number of stacked townhouse units to 72 from the previous 80. Design elements were also changed.

While some politicians welcomed the changes and thanked the developers to taking their concerns to heart, they still found the proposal lacking.

“I think this was a lost opportunity in terms of density,” said Councillor Tom Lewis, echoing similar comments made by others.

Mayor Wayne Redekop said he opposed the plan, calling it wrong for the property, though he was also quick to point out he didn’t blame the developers for it.

“This is not the best use for this parcel,” he said, before putting forward two amendments that were both approved.

The first amendment puts a sunset clause on the approval. The developers have three years from when the bylaws regarding the approval are passed, likely at the May 27 council meeting, to apply for a building permit for the development.

The second amendment brings council into the site plan process, which is usually handled by staff.

Despite getting his amendments approved, Redekop still pointed out he didn’t like the project. The Town has several objectives to build housing in Fort Erie, he said, including affordable housing, purpose-built rentals, smaller units, and units for seniors.

“This hits, maybe, one of those, and that is the smaller units,” he said, calling the units “pseudo apartments.”

The land is a one-hectare piece of property, on the south side of Garrison Road, east of Crescent Road. The revised proposal sees a three-storey mixed-use build on the northern part of the property, which would have 10 residential units and 340 square metres of ground floor commercial space.

Redekop said he was “baffled” by the inclusion of the commercial space and had worries it could cause problems.

To the south of that there are three blocks of three-storey stacked townhomes proposed. All told, there are 72 residential units in the plan.

Councillors seemed to all agree that the area was an ideal spot for more density.

“I really wish we could have seen something larger on this site,” Councillor Nick Dubanow said.

Despite their misgivings, councillors approved the proposal with Redekop’s amendments. The mayor acknowledged that some councillors were perhaps understandably hesitant to vote against the proposal, fearing an Ontario Land Tribunal appeal they may be unlikely to win.

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