Markham Road is Developers’ Next Target
By Derek Pinder
If you believe our Federal Government, Canada’s future rests on increasing our population. Our Provincial and Municipal governments have responded by building more and more housing and the words “infill” and “densification” are the guidelines of the day. A proposal to build townhouses from 448 to 454 Markham Road will certainly respond to this policy by replacing four dwellings with 48 condominium residential units. A twelve-fold increase in the number of families that will be housed on a 1.8-acre site.
Insoho Developments is proposing to build 34 three-storey, back-to-back townhouses along Markham Road and, at the rear of the site, a further 14 three-storey regular townhouses. A new street will separate the two rows of townhouses and will provide vehicle access to Markham Road. Parking for residents is generous, which is a welcome change from most new developments, but visitor parking is sparse which will probably lead to spill-over onto local streets. The site is currently heavily populated with trees. 107 have been identified, 94 of which will be removed. 43 of the removals are of a size that is protected. These will be replaced for a net loss of 51 trees, which is ironic considering another government policy which promises to plant more trees. Happily, 52 of the new plantings will be large shade trees.
Achievement of this proposal requires a zoning bylaw amendment to permit the number of dwelling units, the number of storeys, and the density.
A poorly attended, virtual, community consultation was held on February 8th. After presentations by the City and the developer, questions from the community were generally ones of detail such as garbage disposal, trees, and traffic. The exception was one local resident, who called for more consultation with the neighbours. They went on to say that the development was a bad idea, placing too many people in such a small space.
Recent precedents make it possible for the amendment to be approved after some minor tweaks and perhaps a Section 37 community benefit contribution. Little by little, the edges of the official plan are being nibbled away and the City is changing; some will say for the better and some for the worse.