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LETTER: Will proposed King St. apartment building be affordable housing or vacation rentals?

'Its current layout with a lobby and an office, as well as the name on the building elevation drawing 'King Suites,' has one questioning the target market'
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Niagara-on-the-Lake Local received the following letter to the editor from reader Paula Ghosh.

I virtually attended the Town Meeting on September 12th, regarding the King St proposal for an apartment building. I heard the Applicant's representative answer a question regarding the nature of the building. He said that the landowner would "condominiumize" the building, but would own all the units. That raised a number of concerns and the need to question the transparency of the Applicant's actions.

The Applicant has been promoting this project as "intensification" and "affordable housing". They have quoted various planning documents and have quoted the recent Ontario government push for intensification in the form of affordable rental properties, and the rewards or penalties for municipalities, if/if not denied/approved. The Town should definitely consider applications for appropriate and affordable housing! Is this the case here? If this developer was transparent and sincere, they would likely not have purchased a property that was zoned R1 and then submitted amendment applications, nor would they be considering an inadequate building on a small property, to provide owner-occupied or long term rental residences. Here are some of the concerns:

1.Will this truly be residential, inhabited by owners or renters who call it home or is it going to become an unofficial executive rental, seasonal rental or vacation rental? Its current layout with a lobby and an office, as well as the name on the building elevation drawing “King Suites", has one questioning the target market and how that would meet the goals of residential intensification.

2. The property is too small for 17 units. The Applicant is asking for a number of amendments and provisions in order to fit this building into this location. That, alone, indicates the need for serious consideration. The building will not be fronting a road, but rather "hidden" which is not ideal for residents. There are no amenities shown in the plans, such as lockers, a meeting room, a gym, adequate bicycle parking etc. There is no “backyard” for the resident families and pets to enjoy. There does not appear to be adequate visitor or contractor parking, nor a place for deliveries or passenger pickup.

3. King Street is a local street that is not intended for the increased vehicle traffic expected for the number of residents, their visitors, deliveries and so on. It is a narrow street where visitor parking is not easily accommodated and parked cars blocking one lane of traffic, would become a safety issue for vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians.

Should this building be approved in this location, I would hope that the Town can enforce rules for a condominium, that would require renters to be for one year or more. I also hope that the Condo Board will not be made up of only the Applicant and his colleagues. A number of changes should be made to ensure a more appropriate condominium building in this location. However, the best solution would be for this Applicant to seek a larger property on a more major road and with adjacent public lands, as is suggested for apartment buildings in Ontario.

Paula Ghosh