More jobs needed before new Fenelon Falls housing complex, reader says

By Lindsay Advocate

Shovels in the ground this spring for housing development in Fenelon Falls?

Your headline “Neighbours oppose handful of geared-to-income apartments in Fenelon Falls” sold the sizzle — a deep dive into the full issue might have given your readership a full view of all the opposition.

I do not abut the land in question but do reside in the surrounding area. All residents of Fenelon Falls should be concerned with the lack of transparency that has occurred with this pending project.

You quoted Sandra Barrett as saying: “We are ready to put the shovel in the ground in the spring” and “The funding is in place, and the consultant and builder are ready to go.”

How can that be when the community knew nothing until August 2020?  The notice in the paper displayed a distorted map and outlined roads that are unopened road allowances, leaving out the names of the existing, connecting streets.

Where was the transparency so wildly spouted by our council? You also quoted Mrs. Barrett as saying, “I aim to understand why they are fighting this project.” If Mrs. Barrett is truly interested in finding out why residents are concerned, as a former councillor she knows the right thing would have been to engage the abutting land owners and surrounding neighbourhood.

‘Low profile providers’ seek to attract as little attention to a development as possible by minimizing planning hurdles and community consultation requirements.

Barrett also commented in your story, “so people can live work and play.” Where are they going to work? Mayor (Andy) Letham has stated: “We need to be proactive in jump-starting the type of development that will provide relief to our current residential tax base. We have the room and infrastructure in place and we need more businesses to help pay for all of the amenities and services we offer our growing community. We’re deferring revenue to invest in good jobs that will support young families and create the balanced growth we’re striving for.”

The mayor himself is outlining the need for jobs. Building any kind of housing is putting the cart before the horse — you can live and play but you’re not going to work!

The mayor stated that we have the infrastructure — we who live in the area surrounding the new build have no city water and we have no sanitary sewers. The new build will have water and sewers — what about the existing residential homes? We are told there are not enough monies for the infrastructure that we need. Apparently the city can use our (all who live in Fenelon Falls) tax dollars by waiving fees and deferring charges for this or any proposal. This puts me 100 per cent in opposition.

When a councillor is elected, that person takes an oath to not only support their constituents but the city as a whole. That person’s sworn duty is to reserve their decision on any matters until he or she has heard from constituents and proponents.

Councillor Doug Elmslie stated in your story, “anytime you change anything it might be viewed as bad. Juniper Street has many long-time residents. It is a very quiet street. It is like living in the country and the thought of an apartment block being built is a new concept.” It sounds to me as if Councillor Elmslie has made up his mind to support the developer, without any consultation with his local community thereby violating the councillors’ commitment.

The city has also spent many dollars on a consultant to give a recommendation on the second bridge crossing in Fenelon — one of the crossing sites is over the river at Juniper. We have yet to here what route is being recommended.  If the site is the Juniper crossing and we have (quoting Councillor Elmslie) an ‘apartment block’ abutting the new road, can anyone picture that in their minds eye? If you can’t picture that try picturing the chaos that the traffic will cause.

In closing, compare your headline “Neighbours oppose handful of geared-to-income apartments in Fenelon” to Councillor Emslie’s words “apartment block.” Show us what the community benefit is!

Jo-Ann Kerr
Fenelon Falls

1 Comment

  1. Diane Engelstad says:

    No doubt Jo Ann Kerr has a home in Fenelon Falls and doesn’t need to worry about where to live. This housing initiative did not come out of the blue. The Fenelon Falls Housing Partnership is a citizens’ group that has been searching for land, walking distance to downtown Fenelon, for years. The need for market rental housing alone is years long, sending or keeping residents — who are also workers, families, consumers and taxpayers — away to who-knows-where. The intention of this project is simply to ensure that no one is excluded from housing in Fenelon Falls.

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