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Neighbours express support for Krug Factory redevelopment, apprehension for 10-storey building

During a public meeting for a proposed redevelopment of the former Krug Factory, Cambria Ravenhill might have summed up much of the public sentiment when she asked, “Who thought a 10-storey building was a good idea?”

In a gallery and back hall fit to burst, neighbours and Stratford residents gathered at city hall June 27 for the public meeting, which was held on the zone change the developers were requesting.

The developers are asking for a site-specific residential fifth density (R5) zone to permit cluster townhouse dwellings, all other uses permitted in the R5 zone, a reduced parking rate, a maximum height of 36 metres and reduced setbacks for the existing and proposed residential buildings.

With the new zone, R5(3), the development would create eleven residential buildings and 382 units on the site, which is located on the south side of Douro Street between Trinity Street and King Street.

Most of the public expressed support for redeveloping the old factory. The biggest and most frequent concern discussed during the meeting was the 10-storey building, which isn’t being proposed for the original factory but would be a new build on the southern portion of the site.

As Alex Burnett, planner with the city, pointed out, a 10-storey building is 36 metres tall. Currently, the tallest residential building in Stratford is seven storeys or 22 metres tall.

Caroline Baker, representing BMI Group, the developers, said that in accordance with the city’s process, representatives contacted a number of neighbours prior to the public meeting inquiring about whether they would support such a development or not.

She said they canvassed in the afternoon when the majority of neighbours wouldn’t be at work, and the 10-storey building was discussed during those conversations.

Marva Bailey-Wisdom was the first of the public to speak during the meeting. Though it was not a requirement to give an address, she did, saying her family is at 266 King St.

She pointed to her mother, Eva Bailey, in the gallery. The elder Bailey still gardens for many neighbours in the area and wanted to know about parkland, which Baker later clarified that 42 per cent of the seven-acre development is classified as landscape/open space.

Bailey-Wisdom also had concern over some of the language being used.

“There are a number of comments or allusions to ‘the owners are considering, this is not the owners’ intent,’ Bailey-Wisdom said. “My hopefulness (sic) is that some of these will be a little bit more concrete as we go down the line.”

A few residents, like Jason Davis, did praise the development for building up rather than out and encroaching on farmland.

Davis also inquired about EV parking and recharge stations and pointed out many families have two vehicles and the parking currently proposed in the report wouldn’t be enough for them. Parking on the street isn’t a feasible solution either since parking tickets would rack up quickly.

Right as the meeting was about to begin, suspended resident Mike Sullivan appeared in the gallery. His presence in chambers, which was prohibited by the city for a three-month period after alleged respectful workplace policy violations, had previously cancelled two public meetings.

After Mayor Martin Ritsma asked him to leave, Sullivan did, saying he would be leaving only out of the interest of all the citizens that had filled the gallery for the public meeting.

“I will leave in order to allow this meeting to go ahead and I appreciate the patience of all you here and all those who have supported me throughout this,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan left his comments and concerns on the development with Sharon Collingwood, who read them after she presented her concerns, including that the decision to allow this zone change is precedent setting.

Sullivan’s concerns revolved around much of what was already discussed and also what this development adds to the climate crisis and the density a 10-storey building would bring to the city.

“The developer is looking to you, mayor and council, for enormous easements,” Collingwood read. “Among them, a 10-storey building not currently permitted anywhere in Stratford, significantly greater density that is permitted.”

Lorne Johnstone was one of the residents that spoke on the infrastructure of the area. He said when it rains heavily in the area, the sewers already back up and flood, wondering what will be done when there are more than 300 more families in the area.

Baker said the report indicates the development couldn’t be serviced with the existing sewer infrastructure, that the storm trunk would be lowered so that the storm sewer is closer to grade, that a new sanitary line would be brought in to improve overall conditions and the developers will incur the cost.

Whether the proposed units will be affordable, Baker said that the intention is for 10 per cent to be affordable units by the Province of Ontario’s definition, which is 30 per cent of a household’s income.

Baker estimated prices for affordable units may start at $400,000 to $700,000 to purchase. Renting would be in the ballpark of $1,000.

Many residents also expressed ire at the lack of councillors at the meeting. Four councillors – Coun. Larry McCabe, Coun. Lesley Biehn, Coun. Jo-Dee Burbach and Coun. Mark Hunter – were absent and sent their regrets.

No decision was made during the public meeting, as Ritsma stated, but the development will be coming back to council in the future.

Due to provincial guidelines, Ritsma said there isn’t time to have another public meeting, as some residents suggested, though he did stress that comments, concerns and questions from the public can still be sent to the city to be considered by staff and council.


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