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Fenelon Falls residents want apartment project delayed or stopped

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Residents of Juniper Street in Fenelon Falls made five different deputations to Kawartha Lakes council at their regularly scheduled October meeting.

The residents cite a myriad of environmental, developmental, infrastructure, green space and population density concerns that they believe justify the city at least delaying — if not cancelling — the sale of the property to the Fenelon Community Housing Initiative.

The focus of their concern is the proposed sale of a piece of surplus land in Fenelon Falls to a non-profit building consortium who plan to build as many as 90 units of mixed rental housing on the site. The bulk of the units would be rented at market value with a small number in each building set aside for geared to income housing and housing for those with developmental disabilities.

Council approved a direct sale of the lot to the non-profit in September. The deal has yet to be consummated as the FCHI is waiting for a land appraisal to be completed by the city. Only after the appraisal is done can the purchase move forward.

Anne Yorke, a resident of Fenelon Falls, began the deputations suggesting that the city-owned property be left as a nature preserve for area residents.

“Chris Hodgson, the former provincial minister of natural resources, told us the area would never be developed,” Yorke said.

“The area is home to a multitude of animals and reptiles, and a small creek runs through the property, and it should be left this way,” Yorke continued.

“So many simple questions about this development have not been answered,” Yorke stated, “and there are still so many questions that need to be answered.”

“The 90 units proposed for this site, plus the 30 that are going to be built on Murray Street will create massive traffic congestion, and the village does not have the infrastructure for this development,” Yorke said. “It is too much too soon.”

Deputant Doug Dickerson took a different tack in questioning the Juniper Street project, arguing that until the city has decided on the Fenelon bridge bypass choice the apartment development should be put on hold.

One of the proposed bypasses could apparently butt up against the land being considered for apartments at Juniper Street. Dickerson wants the one project settled before the apartment project gets the green light from city planners.

“This is a small ask considering how flawed the process has been,” Dickerson suggested.

Richard Chartier, a long time Fenelon resident, focused in on the water and sewage issues that have plagued Fenelon Falls development for decades.

“Sewage is at full capacity,” Chartier claimed, “and with three separate developments planned for West Street, Murray Street and now Juniper Street that could potentially add 700 people to a village of only 1,800.”

“That kind of rapid population increase would abuse the crumbling sewage system in Fenelon, potentially causing the city to have to dumps millions of litres of untreated sewage into Sturgeon Lake,” Chartier said.

“Development in Fenelon, including the Juniper Street project, should wait for the sewage infrastructure to be in place,” Chartier concluded.

The fourth deputant, Ronalee Switzer, suggested that the development at Juniper and Murray Street would bring an influx of children to Fenelon Falls who will soon discover that the village lacks green space.

“Land designated for open space (like Juniper Street) should remain as park space,” Switzer said.

Switzer asked that the city revisit the sale of the property to FCHI, and look  seriously at concluding a deal with the school board to create play space and green space for everyone in Fenelon Falls.

Joy Epstein concluded the deputations, focusing on a lack of road and educational infrastructure in Fenelon.

“There is insufficient road infrastructure already in the area being considered. This project will impact population density in the neighbourhood,” Epstein said, “Every neighbour opposes the project.”

“This project will cause overcrowding at local schools,” Epstein continued.

“We believe (Fenelon and area) Councillor Elmslie is prejudiced because of his public support of the project,” Epstein continued. “I trust we aren’t being politely listened to (by council) and then privately ignored,” Epstein concluded.

Council voted to accept the deputations without comment for future consideration.

Kirk is a retired high school history teacher and coach who has had a lifelong interest in politics at all levels. Since retiring, Kirk has spent the last three years doing freelance writing of all kinds for various platforms. Kirk can often be found sitting in the press gallery at City Hall observing and reporting on the vagaries of local government.

3 Comments

  1. This is quite a one-sided article about what sounds like an attempt to stop affordable housing for the poor and disabled. The virtue-signalling about the environment and animals is pretty rich, too, coming from people who obviously don’t care about their fellow humans. Because anyone who is homeless deserves whatever they get, right? They are lazy or dumb or violent or crazy, so go the stereotypes – so they can be thrown away like garbage.

    Sewage is at full capacity? There’s a small creek and animals? What about the people who have nowhere to live? Why don’t they ever count? If they set up a camp or tent they are forcibly removed by police – and no one cares.

    I am sick of the entitlement from older generations who have houses with grossly-inflated prices and good-paying, benefit-offering, stable careers. Stop taking advantage of the system and then dismantling it when you get what you need. And stop crapping on the young as if an entire generation is worse off because they are just too lazy, or wasted money on avocado toast. No – the cause was the poor decisions made by the old who spent decades cutting government programs and taxes while privatizing everything and letting inequality get out of control.

    Our society is disgusting and our priorities backwards. We’re in the middle of a pandemic and people still can’t bring themselves to support affordable housing or basic income. We’re doomed.

    (Yes, I used the words “entitlement” and “virtue-signalling”. Often the left is tarred with these terms. In reality, right wingers project, deflect, virtue signal, and act like they are entitled to everything.)

  2. I tend to agree (with the above comment). The backlash sounds like a lot of NIMBYism. Reminds me of the often true joke: Q: What’s the difference between a developer and an environmentalist? A: The environmentalist already has his waterfront dream home.

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