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.