Approval Of Luxury Condo In Brander Gardens Concerns Residents
City council has approved the controversial new luxury condo plan on the edge of the River Valley, despite protest from the residents. A group of people who call themselves Brander Gardens Rezoning Action Committee (BGRAC) expressed their dissatisfaction out of concern the development will aggravate the traffic situation in the area. The city council debated until 10 p.m. but finally voted in favor of the project.
The luxury condos will be constructed along the edge of the river valley, but the development will preserve ownership of the area below. At the moment, the land has only a single home on it. Brad Kennedy, the architect behind this project development, plans to move mature trees to pave way for the new structures and maintain privacy for the neighbors. The development is said to include a caveat that inhibits construction on anything below the ridge of the bank.
Council members considered delaying the decision, expressing fears the proposed condo complex would cut access to the valley. Councillor Ben Henderson, the only member to vote against the proposed development, said that was his primary concern. Developers plan to construct between four and six four-storey luxury condo buildings with underground parking.
Most of the land in question belongs to Dennis Modry, a cardiologist who performed Western Canada’s first heart transplant in 1985. Modry’s 7,500 square-foot house there went on the property market for $12.5 million three years ago. The new zoning designation, referred to as “site-specific development control” (DC2) will give the developer control over that area that was formerly zoned for single-family houses.
More than twenty-five residents from the community showed up to city hall to voice their opposition to the project, citing concerns about neighborhood character, traffic and erosion of the valley. Many residents are concerned the project could destabilize the slope, causing soil erosion. Residents also argue that the luxury condos won’t fit in with the area’s mostly 70s-era row homes. They say this will limit residents’ engagement with the neighborhood, and the added density will bring congestion to the area.
Barbara Koenig, who lives a few blocks from the proposed condos, said one of her neighbors was not allowed to install an underground sprinkler system on grounds that it may trigger erosion. Koenig says she is overly concerned that the developers plan to relocate mature trees will destabilize the slope into the river.
Hamid Namsechi, an area resident, said he looked up the area’s ambulance response times and found traffic can delay EMS ferrying patients by more than 14 minutes. Namsechi said the response time could be longer than it is quicker should the city council go ahead with the plan. Architect Brad Kennedy said his firm is making efforts to address the community’s concerns.
Brad says he has designed the whole plan around natural features and promised to screen the neighborhood with trees. He has also held several meetings for residents who wanted to examine development plans up close. Rather than cutting down trees, he has promised to relocate some to other areas of the property. The developer has also promised to donate $50,000 to the area’s league, and $50,000 to improve accessibility to the river valley.
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