Plan to demolish Oakville apartment for new one has current tenants ‘stressing out’


Published January 31, 2023 at 12:37 pm

Oakville Town Council recently discussed a proposal by Helberg Properties Limited that would see the demolition of a current seven-storey, 59-unit rental apartment on 50 Speers Rd. and replacing it with a new 27-storey rental apartment. TOWN OF OAKVILLE IMAGE

Plans to knock down an Oakville apartment building and replace it with a 27-storey rental complex have some current occupants of the building “stressing out” and feeling like they are being “pushed out.”

At a recent meeting, Town council discussed a proposal by Helberg Properties Limited that would see the demolition of a current seven-storey, 59-unit rental apartment on 50 Speers Rd. and replace it with a new 27-storey rental apartment.

Helberg Properties, current owner of the land, is looking for zoning changes that would allow them to go ahead with the development.

The new building would include 314 rental units, 1,689 square metres of amenity space and 314 parking spaces each for vehicles and bicycles.

But tenants of the existing apartment building expressed  their concerns at the meeting over where they will go if they are pushed out, especially with the current affordable housing crisis.

Rising rental costs are unaffordable, they say.

“I’m trembling right now,” said Sherry Hindle, a tenant in the current apartment building. “I’m stressing out. I can’t sleep. If I have to move, me and my son will be under that bridge down the hill.”

Lindsay Dale-Harris of Bousfields Inc, Helberg Prosperities’ planning consultant, said that current tenants would have an opportunity to return when the new apartment is completed, but wouldn’t guarantee that rental prices remain the same.

Dale-Harris added that current tenants will be given compensation packages that are more than what’s required by Ontario’s Residential Tenancies Act.

Tenants say the compensation doesn’t mean much if they can’t find an affordable place to live.

Terry Garswood said he has looked around for apartments in Oakville and pointed to a bachelor apartment he found being advertised for $2,250 plus utilities.

“Many of us just can’t afford these rental prices,” said Garswood, who has lived at the current Speers Rd. apartment for 19 years.

The area is designated for high-density residential development by the Livable Oakville Plan.

“If the rezoning of this building is allowed, I will be pushed out of Oakville,” he told council. “This would not seem to be in keeping with Oakville being modelled to be the most livable town in Canada.”

Councillors raised several concerns about the development proposal including there being no visitor parking and Ward 2 Councillor Cathy Duddeck said that heavy traffic was already an issue in the area.

Nicole LeBlanc, of the West River Residents’ Association, brought up concerns over the height of the building, adding that the proposed height of 27 storeys is far above the town’s urban designation of 12 storeys.

“Heights in this area range from single-family detached, and then it moves up from 11- to 21-storey buildings,” LeBlanc told council. “We feel 27 storeys is far above what should be considered.”

Dale-Harris said the current site is within a Major Transit Station Area where high-density development is being encouraged by the province.

Council will continue discussions on the proposal in a future meeting.

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