I am very appreciative of those residents who will take the time to write City Council and voice their concerns when they find something as objectionable and expedient as this Community Park Bait and Switch.
Copied below is a letter from an Oshawa resident, clearly concerned and not afraid to speak up! :
"One of the quirks of the planning process in Ontario which gives me some room for pause is who really represents the interests of future residents. They cannot speak for themselves. In theory I guess that is the politicians who legislate the rules, municipal staff who implement them and the local politicians who oversee them. I believe it is important that existing residents also raise concerns given that they have lived in the municipality, lived through neighborhood development and have a pretty good idea of what makes a livable and successful community. So here I am.
What has caught my attention recently is the proposal to move the existing location of the Community Park in the Kedron II Plan. I was curious as to why it was being moved and after talking to both Ward I Councillors who represent this part of Oshawa I was more than a bit surprised to learn neither of them support moving the park. For me that raised some "red flags" and a number of questions. Would they not know what was best for their Ward?
In the last few weeks, I have spent a number of hours reading the Official Plan and talking to various people to try and understand Kedron II and why the park needed to move.
I do not believe that it needs to move at least not yet. We simply do not have enough information yet to justify the move. What is the rush? The existing park site was deemed to be acceptable so why rush to move it without getting a few more answers. The conservative approach would be to wait to establish the need before making the decision.
Rushing to move the park will require an exemption from the Region to breach the urban/rural boundary and locate onto prime agricultural land. This may eventually be the future, but it does not need to happen now. It also raises the issue that residents, particularly children and seniors will have to cross an arterial road to get to the Community Park. If we leave the Park in its current location this risk is alleviated.
The Official Plan states in Section 126.96.36.199. “Community and neighbourhood parks shall generally be located as central as possible to their respective service areas and shall, wherever possible, be safely accessible to pedestrians and cyclists via active transportation facilities such as multi-use paths, walkways, sidewalks and bike paths, and be located in areas which do not require pedestrians to cross arterial roads in order to reach such parks. (OPA 179)
Kedron II is a high-density residential development the type of which North Oshawa has never seen before. There are estimated to be 8800 dwelling units with an estimated population in excess of 22,000. Access and safe access to a Community Park is going to be critical. I think we have already seen what happens when you gather a lot of people together during this unfortunate Pandemic. Concessions have already been made to meet the compact design of the Development with the Parkette size requirement being reduced and the lot size of proposed and hypothetical schools also being reduced. I believe, the DDSB rejected stacking schools more than three floors. The point I am making is this is a densely populated community that needs safe access to centralized park areas.
At the Development Services Committee meeting, I heard about getting a few more acres of park land in the move, but is the safety of our children and seniors who will have to cross the arterial road worth the benefit? What I did not hear discussed is what is the benefit to the Developers of moving the Park. Do we know what they will do with the thirty acres? If they want to build low density housing on the park land they would not need an amendment to the Official Plan as that is already allowed, so why is an amendment for “alternative residential land uses” being proposed. You do not need this for low density housing. What is it that we do not know? Are they looking at adding more high-density dwelling units? Will this trigger a further designation of parkland under the Planning Act? Is that why they are trying to give us a few more acres now? Is something else being developed for those lands? We simply do not know yet! I think we need an answer before moving the Community Park. We need to know why we are doing it and until we have more clarity it should not be done.
In summary, what do we know if we move the Community Park to the requested location? We have to ignore our own planning rules by locating onto prime agricultural land breeching the urban/rural boundary and we are subjecting our residents, particularly children and seniors, to the risk of crossing an arterial road road to get to the new location of the Community Park.
In summary, what do we not know? The reason we are taking on more risk for our residents by moving the Park? What are the future plans for land where the Park is currently located? What is the rush to make a decision to move the Park? Are we looking at more high-density dwelling units or something else in an already precedent setting high-density development? We do not know when the Community Park will be ready or any of the hypothetical schools and their athletic facilities will be available?"
I urge Council to work with the Ward 1 Councillors to alleviate their concerns, after all they represent this area, take a conservative approach to protecting the safety of our future residents and I hope you will take more time to seek further answers and clarity before making the decision to move the Community Park in Kedron II. Send this decision back to staff and Committee for further consideration. I believe I am pro-development, but I would like to see it done safely, responsibly, with clarity and all the information on the table.