Submission to Niagara-on-the-Lake Council
Lord Mayor and members of Council
Please accept the following input of concerns from The Niagara Foundation.
In connection with the 191-unit subdivision proposed by Solmar (Niagara 2) Inc. (“Solmar”) for portions of the Rand Estate, The Niagara Foundation believes the Rand Estate is one of the last remaining and most important estate lots in Niagara-on-the-Lake and strongly objects to this proposal for several reasons, notably:
– The estate is known to contain many built and heritage landscape features of local and provincial significance including a designed Beaux-Arts landscape attributed in large part to the Dunington-Grubb firm, founders of the Canadian landscape architecture society and Sheridan Nurseries.
– There are approximately 115 mature and possibly heritage trees remaining on the subject lands and it is understood the proposal will remove over 100 of them.
– The subdivision proposal contemplates raising the elevation of the site by up to 10 feet as discussed at both this Summer’s Open House and Public Meeting. We have seen calculations suggesting that 10,000 truckloads of soil will be required to accomplish this elevation change, an action that will surely decimate any remaining cultural heritage landscape features on the site.
– An argument could be made that the existing land use of this property includes a role in regulating the flow of water into One Mile Creek and that there must be sufficient and sustained low-intensity development measures and green infrastructure to ensure that properties downstream are not subjected to flooding.
– Access to the subdivision relies entirely on a stem of 200 John Street that we understand traverses elements of the Dunington-Grubb designed landscape and would obliterate numerous mature trees. The Foundation encourages the Town to require the applicant to find an alternative route into the site. For example, we are aware of an historic entrance between 144 and 176 John Street. A much smaller and more appropriately designed residential development could be adequately serviced by a private road at this location.
– No case has been made explaining why we need to convert agricultural land to residential use just because it happens to be within Town limits.
Overall, The Niagara Foundation believes the subdivision proposal should be reviewed from the perspective of the community; namely, how will the subdivision connect with and affect the historical and natural heritage of the community? Previous development of the Rand properties (e.g. Christopher Street and Weatherstone Court) were well-integrated with adjacent properties, did not require site elevation changes of this magnitude, and respected existing tolerances for density. This is surely one of the least suitable sites in all NOTL for a high-density subdivision. The applicants’ argument that intensification of this nature is required or appropriate to meet the Region’s 2051 growth targets is baseless and must be resisted by the Town.
Ultimately, we urge the Town to seek a type and scale of development coincident with the importance of Randwood to the cultural history of Niagara-on-the-Lake and one that complements, not overwhelms, the neighbouring residential areas and meets all legislative requirements.
We look forward to engaging in public discussions with Council on this matter and wish to emphasize that the intention of The Niagara Foundation is to see appropriate development that maintains and complements the Town’s special heritage and architectural elements, with a clearly expressed policy that allows both applicants and Town staff to meet established requirements.
The Board of The Niagara Foundation