Laker-editorial

To the Editor:

In response to Brian Hayes’ piece in The Chronicle Herald of September 3, 2018: “Fall River senior living proposal gets support.” To establish the proposed 360-unit, five-building seniors complex at the Baker/Carr Farm property in Fall River, one requires not only the resources and the unrealistically high number of suitable residents, one would also need to seek a change in the “rules” as outlined in the Municipal Planning Strategy (MPS) last amended in 2016.

In consideration of the standing rules, it has been approved for the allowable maximum of three buildings with no more than three floors and containing no greater than 120 apartment units to be built on land near the peak of Fall River Road surrounded by single-family homes.

The current documents made public on September 7, 2018, propose five apartment buildings containing a total of 360 units (Halifax by-law amendment, case no. 20594). This is a three-fold increase in the density originally envisioned and approved for the property designated “Site B” in the MPS and if approved will change the fabric of our community.

The supporters state that the entire project will be a seniors-only development as allowed by the Human Rights Act of Nova Scotia (Section 6 a), arguing that there is a shortage of seniors housing in our area. We agree! However, more than a few of us wonder if this is the best location for such a development. The adage “location, location, location” comes to mind and perhaps a senior-friendly development is much more suited to “Site A” near Sobeys? As a community, we are fortunate to have several new housing options presenting themselves in 2018: First – the City’s new plan before the Public, and to be later voted upon by Council, to potentially allow “Secondary & Backyard Suites” throughout the city and in the suburbs; and second – three high-density developments in the works in Fall River.

These projects include an approved six-storey building with 76 condo units at Inn on the Lake; the proposed construction of two three-storey buildings (120 apartments) and 22 townhouses at the end of Ingram Drive, and the third, the key subject, a proposed project of five three- and four-storey buildings with a total of 360 apartments for seniors on Fall River Road.

A group of concerned citizens, all ranging from middle-aged to senior citizens, are excited about any development that allows our community’s seniors to age in place. Should we choose to leave our homes and downsize to apartment living we look forward to having that option available for our neighbours and ourselves. That said, we wish to let our community know that we are concerned about how the current proposal is proceeding.

We have the following concerns/questions:

1) The property will require onsite sewage treatment. What kind and size of system will be used? Where will the drainage fields be located? How much land will be cleared to make room for the system? A seniors development, presumably, will result in a greater-than-average quantity of pharmaceuticals entering the sewage system and filtering downhill into neighbours’ wells and ultimately into Thomas Lake. Is there a higher level of treatment needed for this reason?

2) Parking will be required for 300 to 400 cars assuming one spot for each unit and current renderings indicate underground parking which will likely require blasting. If the buildings are to be kept within permitted heights, this will mean truly underground parking (not raised half-way above ground level). What happens if this blasting negatively impacts performing wells for those neighbours choosing not to connect to the newly-available utility water or who have no access to the municipal water line? Will water be hooked up at no cost to those affected homes or will new wells be drilled for impacted neighbours (assuming the water table would support doing so)? Is there pyritic slate under the soil and what will happen when it is uncovered?

3) Seniors are unlikely to make a notable impact on traffic during rush hour but 300 to 400 additional vehicles entering and exiting the already overly busy and narrow Fall River Road will be an issue. It will mean the potential widening of the road to install left and right turning lanes and a pull-over for mass transit (assuming future bus service will occur as Fall River grows). Who pays for this possible change and where is this reflected in the development plans?

4) There is talk about most of the land being kept natural, but it may need to be cleared for the drainage field. The potential exists to turn what was once forest into a clear-cut field…will this be the case? When will the plans indicate what is happening with the rest of the property?

5) Current drawings appear to have half of the first level under grass and we wonder when better drawings revealing the true perspective of these buildings from various points of perspective will be made available? All drawings to date have the first-floor half-buried and the perspective aligned to make the structures look smaller than in reality. The community deserves to see proper artist’s renderings of this proposal. We look forward to hearing what others in the community have to say and are excited to see the potential developers answer these and other concerns as we move toward the approval phases and final approval of a revised plan or outright rejection of the requested changes to our MPS.

Sincerely,

Alan Joyce on behalf of the Fall River Seniors Housing Group

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Pat has grown up in East Hants, having called Milford, and now Enfield home. He graduated from the journalism program at Holland College in 2001, and has spent time at newspapers in NL and Alberton and Summerside, PEI before becoming a reporter/photographer at The Weekly Press/The Laker in October 2008. He has a rescue kitty named Asha that is much loved—and spoiled. Pat is also our "social engagement guru." Check him out on twitter!