Council votes 6-3 against seniors’ complex

Dave Bartlett
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Wally Collins — File photo

A proposed seniors’ assisted living complex for Kilbride has been rejected by St. John’s city council for a second time.

Seanic Canada Inc. had applied to build a three-storey, 69-bed complex between Carondale Drive, Doresy’s Lane and Old Petty Harbour Road.

Council originally rejected the proposal in November 2010, but three councillors asked the vote be deferred until the developer could do a followup traffic study.

After that motion to defer was defeated, Seanic took the city to court saying council acted without all the information and it failed to give proper planning reasons for refusing the project.

The court agreed with Seanic that council should have at least allowed a second traffic study to be done.

But at a public meeting last month, area residents turned out en masse to voice a myriad of concerns, as they had done before. Traffic was high on the neighbourhood’s list of issues.

When the issue was called Monday during council’s regulary weekly meeting, Ward 5 Coun. Wally Collins — who represents the area — made a motion to reject the proposal.

“That intersection, as far as I’m concerned, is still the most dangerous intersection in St. John’s,” Collins said.

Collins also said the building is proposed for a hillside and the slope makes it difficult for seniors to climb and will lead to additional water run-off.

He also said seniors would be isolated as there’s not many amenities in the area within walking distance.

But Ward 2 Coun. Frank Galgay said he supported the project.

“For me, it’s a total issue of not-in-my-backyard,” he said, adding claims a seniors complex would lower property values or lead to a significant increase in traffic in the area were “pure, unadulterated nonsense.”

Coun. Sheilagh O’Leary had a different view.

She said Seanic’s lawyer, who spoke at the last public meeting, accused council of being populist by bending to public pressure.

“I would say that the community should be reflected by the desire of the population and that we are elected to be the voice of the people,” she said.

While she agreed there is a need for more seniors housing, O’Leary said traffic and environmental concerns would mean she would vote against the development.

Couns. Tom Hann and Bruce Tilley supported the project.

“I stressed in my platform when I ran for council that I would do everything in my power for seniors,” said Tilley. “Seniors need our support for this type of facility.”

Couns. Hickman and Breen said they would vote against the plan, as did Deputy Mayor Shanie Duff.

Ward 4 Coun. Debbie Hanlon, who was absent for the previous vote on the project, said she was on the fence as she saw the need for the assisted living complex, and that concerns were largely of a not-in-my-backyard nature.

But ultimately Hanlon decided traffic and safety concerns convinced her to side with the majority of her colleagues.

“I am very uncomfortable with that intersection and that’s the only thing that I’m going (to base my vote) on,” she said.

In the end council voted to reject the proposal 6-3.

Mayor Dennis O’Keefe and Coun. Gerry Colbert were not at Monday’s meeting.

One thing all councillors at the meeting agreed with was that nothing in the new proposal has changed since the last time the development came before them.

dbartlett@thetelegram.com

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  • OMG
    March 13, 2012 - 12:00

    and on a further note Wally Collins I hope you do not get in the next election because you do not stand up for this ward, to vote against something for your district, something good at that is disgraceful, you should be ashamed but as they say Karma is a B***h,

  • omg
    March 13, 2012 - 11:57

    People must be blind, there ARE traffic lights at the intersection coming down off richmond hill, they only activate when someone presses the button. I don't think it would be to hard to change them to normal traffic lights.... Snobs of Richmond hill you are no better than anyone else and seniors are just like your parents... you all need to grown up on that "Hill"

  • Just Sayin'
    March 13, 2012 - 10:27

    Mr. Jack, I really don't appreciate your use of the word "townie" nor the tone that it's coming off with. Clearly you aren't a "townie" and if you lived in here you might just understand where the people of Killbride are comming from... just something for you to consider.

  • Townie
    March 13, 2012 - 10:16

    This company was trying to change the zoning in the Municipal Plan. If they want to sue go rigtht ahead. They had better be ready to pay for my City's costs to defend.

  • Carol
    March 13, 2012 - 09:11

    We need a forward-looking council. How much longer till the next election! To reject a seniors complex because of traffic concerns - can the intersection be fixed if it's that dangerous? I'm sure all these senior will be speeding, going through red lights and just making a nuisance for themselves in the holier-than-though area of Richmond Hill!!!!

  • Marg
    March 13, 2012 - 09:03

    How can anyone with a grain of sense say that intersection is the most dangerous one in St. John's? Put signal lights there, if they are not there already, which I think they are. It's a three way intersection. This is a pile of nonsense about using the excuse that there would be too much high traffic. Most of us know the "real" reason why this project is being rejected. Some day we are all going to be seniors and a percentage of us will need assistance. Let's hope and pray that there are enough affordable accommodations available. Most of us are common ordinary citizens; far from what you would call "wealthy". Wouldn't this situation be called discrimination?

    • amelia
      March 13, 2012 - 10:08

      actually, there aren't traffic lights there. and if you've seen the intersection you'd see that it would be hard to put a set there. i drive this way every single day. it's the people making the left turns there that causes the problem and if the home went there, that's the way they would have to go.

  • Jack
    March 13, 2012 - 08:56

    Jeremiah, rejecting a great project, such as the Senior Citizens supportive living centre, is not a good decision, but a boneheaded and dumb one. Townies, a common term for residents of St. John's area, will pay the price for their decision including a possible civil suit and legal action from Seanic, St. John's will be less attractive to developers, and also perceptions that Townies are xenophobic like their Corner Brooker counterparts. In the meantime, perhaps St. John's and Corner Brookers should start learning from Halifax's mistakes in constantly rejecting major development projects. In the case of Halifax, Jono Developments is planning to build a $100 million condominium complex at the former St. Pat's - Alexandra school site. Due to regional council flip-flopping as well as court challenges, Jono Developments is planning to file a civil suit against Halifax Regional Municipality. Don't be surprised if Seanic takes possible civic action against St. John's and get a court order allowing this company to build the senior's complex. In the meantime, I got a message for the St. John's townies. Start embracing development and get rid of your NIMBY attitudes or the city suffers.

  • Jean
    March 13, 2012 - 07:43

    All I can say is I hope ALL these nay sayers have a plan when they get older..There by the Grace of God go I...

    • David
      March 13, 2012 - 11:02

      I am sure Mount Pearl would appreciate an additional seniors complex.

  • Eli
    March 13, 2012 - 07:38

    Hann, Tilley, and Galgay would approve a outhouse atop the Court House.

  • Seniors have rights
    March 13, 2012 - 07:27

    I am not a senior,but someday I will be.Makes me wonder if this project wasn,t near Ricmond Hill would it have been rejected,I doubt it.They are putting everything they want in the downtown area regardless of the of the by- laws or the traffic problems.There is no worst problems with traffic and water run of like we have downtown then it would be in that area,I live pretty close to Richmond Hill I think it would be a great are for a seniors.But then again these people there don,t want a seniors complex in their area at all.It would spoil their half million dollar homes.Wake up Collins.

  • Jeremiah
    March 13, 2012 - 06:42

    Good decision. Council should be congratulated.

  • Jack
    March 13, 2012 - 06:32

    St. John's City Hall councilors are now starting to sound more and more like their Corner Brook and even Halifax counterparts in using every single excuse possible to reject good ideas like a Senior Citizens Supportive Living complex, and St. John's will pay the price their NIMBY and prejudicial attitude against Senior Citizens. In the case of Halifax, a developer wants to build over a massive condominium complex at the former St. Pats-Alexandra School. Although Jono Developments got approval, they got rejected, then approved, and now rejected, and Halifax Regional Municipality could face a large civil suit due to attitudes similar to St. John's. As for Debbie Hanlon, she must be an employee of NASA as she is suffering from groupthink syndrome as she knew that St. John's needs supportive seniors housing, but chooses to go against it. Doesn't she realize that voting with status quo and suppressing any doubts can have major consequences? If she didn't take an Organizational Behaviour course in university, perhaps she should read about the Challenger Disaster and how not using your own judgement can result in severe consequences. Time to suspend Debbie Hanlon for groupthinking. As for St. John's, as punishment for groupthinking, ignorance towards senior citizens, and suffering from NIMBY syndrome, prepare for a large court battle with the developer. In the meantime, SHAME on St. John's for being prejudiced against Senior Citizens.