Apartment approved Submitted concept drawing

ELORA ‒ While Centre Wellington councillors aren’t concerned about the height of a future apartment building, some share residents’ worries that it may clash with the atmosphere of the downtown core. 

During a regular council meeting Monday afternoon, councillors unanimously approved a rezoning application that would allow for a four-storey mixed-use apartment building at 175-183 Geddes St.

Current zoning doesn’t allow a mixed-use building to be built above three storeys in downtown Elora. 

“It should be noted that this is the area that is intended to accommodate the most intensive development within the urban centres,” said Mariana Iglesias, manager of planning services, during the meeting. “County policies encourage and anticipate added housing above commercial uses, particularly along these major roadways…any potential impacts can be mitigated through careful design and conditions at the site plan stage.”

The proposal calls for 19 rental units with a mix of one, two and three-bedroom apartments. This is part of a larger development with a three-storey, 12-unit building already approved on Moir Street around the corner. 

Combined, this development has 31 parking spaces.

“I have no concerns as of right now with the four-storeys,” said Coun. Jennifer Adams. “I think when we get into the site plan process there in terms of compatibility and parking, I definitely think those are going to be the big issues.”

The Elora building would be incorporated into the existing Connon Block with the demolition of the Elora Cafe and Kitras Art Glass building. 

According to Iglesias, part of the agreement is that Elora developer and building owner Dave Gillis has agreed to invest in preserving and maintaining the two neighbouring heritage properties. 

“For me, where I find some peace as a councillor is to say that I am now confident that you and the other members of staff are doing the work so that I can say yes to a four-storey,” said Coun. Barb Lustgarten-Evoy. “Whilst still recognizing that you continue to respect our downtown cores and the heritage pieces within it.”

During a public meeting in April, residents’ main concerns were maintaining downtown heritage spaces and fear of precedent-setting in regards to future developments, although Iglesias noted that most also indicated “there is a need for accessible affordable housing.” 

“The provincial mandate is clear now that municipalities are to facilitate increasing the supply of housing, particularly rental housing units,” said Iglesias on Monday. “But also that housing of all types is needed to support basic needs and the economy and local businesses.” 

However, the heritage committee has not endorsed the proposal given “the lack of immediate policy framework and compatibility with the downtown” after the Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) determined “a potential adverse impact of land disturbances” to 187-195 Geddes Street due to its “close proximity” to the site. 

They also recommended measures to address land disturbance impacts including completion of a vibration monitoring plan, certification by an engineer that the proposed redevelopment will be constructed so that it will avoid damage to the adjacent building, and lighting and signage that won’t “detract” from the heritage resource.

Design details will be discussed further in the future. 

Isabel Buckmaster is the Local Journalism Initiative reporter for GuelphToday. LJI is a federally-funded program.

By Isabel Buckmaster, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Jun 28, 2023 at 07:09

This item reprinted with permission from   GuelphToday.com   Guelph, Ontario
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