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'A nightmare': Residents protest housing on former school site

Traffic, parking concerns raised at hearing for 32-unit townhouse project on Pickering Crescent in Newmarket
2022-05-09 - 415 Pickering Crescent - JQ
A rendering from KLm Planning of a proposed development at 415 Pickering Cres.

Some Newmarket residents are protesting a 32-unit townhouse development planned for a former school site on Pickering Crescent.

Council held a public hearing May 9 on a planning proposal for 415 Pickering Cres., where 2425945 Ontario Inc, plans to replace the school with a condo-style development. But the proposal has attracted neighbourhood consternation over the potential traffic impact in the area.

Residents like Tim Morino said traffic is already a significant issue in the neighbourhood, with nearby Newmarket High School and Bogart Public School already causing traffic congestion.

“Most families these days have two vehicles,” resident Tim Morino said. “It’s going to be a nightmare.”

The homes proposed would be three-storeys and feature rooftop amenities. The 32-units would be spread throughout the property, with two access points onto Pickering. 

A traffic study from Paradigm Transportation Solutions Limited estimated there would be approximately 15 vehicle trips in the morning peak hour, compared to 161 for the former school, and 18 in the afternoon peak hour, compared to 99 for the former school.

KLM Planning project director Billy Tung said that they have historically found that changing schools to residences results in reduced traffic. 

“The traffic is a little more exaggerated by people coming in enduring a very specific window for the school drop-off and pickup,” he said. 

Development project manager Lucy Pronk said the planning studies show the property can support the proposed use. She also said the homes would be “entry-level” and will “present an affordable opportunity for people to purchase in this neighbourhood.”

“The proposed development confirms and is consistent with the relevant policy,” Pronk said.

But Mayor John Taylor gave a rough estimate that the homes could cost $1 million or more. 

Councillors raised their own concerns with the project. Ward Councillor Victor Woodhouse said development will always impact residents.

“Anyone who tells you differently is wrong,” he said. “The difficulty and the challenge we have in most of these residences is that the province gives us certain powers to do the planning. They don’t give us the power to out and out say to a development, 'You can’t develop,' if it fits within the current official plan.”

Councillors had some issues with parking, with 64 resident and eight visitor spots planned. Taylor said two parking spots per home has been an issue elsewhere due to garage storage, and could be compounded by the proposed condo road with no on-street parking and no basements for storage.

“This is the frustration that council, I think, is facing,” he said.

Council made no decisions on the proposal at the meeting, voting to receive the presentation and correspondence on the file.

Editor's Note, May 16, 2022: This article has been edited to correct the names of KLM Planning representativies.