Residents of a Kilbride neighbourhood say they’re not against seniors, rather the high-density development in their neighbourhood and the likely impacts an assisted-living facility will have on traffic.
About 75 neighbours from the Richmond Hill area attended a public meeting at St. John’s City Hall Tuesday night to oppose the building of the facility in a vacant lot area behind a number of homes.
The residents had a long list of reasons the lot wasn’t an appropriate place for the development, and even though they spent most of the two-hour meeting outlining them, proponent Sean Callahan said afterwards that it was a positive discussion.
“If every neighbourhood said no to a seniors’ assisted living or to a care facility, where are we going to put the seniors who live alone … and can’t look after themselves and can’t or don’t want to go into a nursing home and family members can’t always be around to look after them?” Callahan asked. “It’s not about me against them. It’s about demographics and that’s life. Our seniors are living longer, and they want to live on their own longer.”
The proposal for a three-storey, 69-room assisted living facility was laughed at when explained by the developer, and a presentation by concerned citizens calling into question city development regulations was given a standing ovation by the crowd.
Sarah Colbourne-Penney, a resident of the area, said the developer was using an emotional issue to get his development built.
She asked whether this was a location in which seniors would want to live, a question she then answered from a report she’d found online about ideal conditions for seniors’ housing, including the need for nearby amenities and flat terrain for walking.
Still others argued there are other seniors homes in the area, including Ruby Manor, St. Luke’s Home and Glenwood.
Many concerns were centred on the intersection at Old Bay Bulls Road, including concerns from Jean Grant and her husband Dave Burry, who were the first family to build in the area.
After 21 years in the area, she said she’s still griping about the intersection she complained to the city about when she first moved in.
In those years, Grant said, no one at city hall has been able to tell her why the intersection works the way it does or why it hasn’t been changed.
Several people talked about the number of young children in the area and the danger to them from increased traffic.
Daryll Budgell asked why the open space Callahan wants to build on couldn’t be a park for the kids in the area.
Peter Duff said he was also concerned for the safety of his daughter — a new driver — who would have to navigate the area near their home.
“It is clear we have the dumbest intersection in the city,” said resident Dean Menchions.
But Callahan argued afterward that traffic isn’t his concern — especially the functions of the intersection. He says that’s the city’s issue.
“Put them where they still have family connections in the area and friends in the area. They shouldn’t be banned because of traffic,” he said.
Further, he said the people at the meeting weren’t out fighting against more subdivisions in the area, although that would add more traffic.
“The councillors have a duty to look after all areas of our population. … If the city doesn’t allow it we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it, but I think the councillors are all reasonable people.”