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Intensify this? Vaughan residents speak out about Glen Shields proposal

Proposed development envisions a seven-storey building for seniors and a nine-storey tower for family rentals
Simone Joseph

This debate is ongoing: The need for housing versus the fear of negative side effects of new development.

The development proposal at 80 Glen Shields Ave. in Vaughan is close to Dufferin Street.

The proposal is for the maximum height to be increased to include a seven-storey building for older adults and a nine-storey building for family rental.

Vaughan’s Official Plan 2010 allows a maximum of four storeys.

The building would include: 198 residential units, of which 155 are rental, and 43 are for seniors. Also included is 4,400 square feet of retail. The business section includes a daycare and a grocery store. Two levels of underground parking are planned.

The owner/developer is identified as 1494096 Ontario Inc. in city documents, along with a phone number. In a phone interview June 9, the man who answered was asked what he thought about residents' concerns that development would cause negative side effects, including traffic. He talked about his development experience, saying he was involved in building townhomes in Kitchener and residents there didn't want townhouses either. He alluded to the fact residents are often anti-development. "Whatever you do, they are against you," he said, refusing to give his name.

Samantha Glass, director-at-large of the Glen Shields Ratepayers Association, obtained 700 signatures on a petition opposing the rezoning necessary for development.

Glass is against the application for several reasons, including worries it will ruin the ecosystem and exacerbate traffic.

At a May 25 meeting at Thornhill’s Rosemount Community Centre, the landowner made a presentation about the development.

Organizers supplied 40 chairs. One hundred and fifty people showed up.

Elvira Caria posted on the Glen Shields Ratepayers Resource Facebook page: “How the hell did they not anticipate this amount of people? So arrogant to think a small group would show up!”

Jean-Fran├žois Obregon, director of the ratepayers association, said: “I agree with housing being built but the height, density is too much.”

This development is not in a designated “local centre” in Vaughan’s official plan, which would have designated it an intensification area, Obregon said.

Hiten Patel is in favour of developing Glen Shields.

“Glen Shields could use some apartments to revitalize the 45-year-old subdivision that seems frozen in time,” he wrote on the Vaughan Ratepayers Resource Facebook page.

At a committee of the whole meeting held Tuesday, May 31, Vaughan Coun. Linda Jackson critiqued the location.

“It’s smack right in the middle of the (sub)division,” she said followed by audience applause.

“I was quite shocked. You have quite a parking shortfall,” she told Jim Kotsopoulos, president of JKO Planning Services.

“We are discussing this issue with staff,” Kotsopoulos said, pointing out the development is only 700 metres from Dufferin and Steeles Avenue.

Jackson lamented that while one building has 155 units, only 141 parking spots are designated. “Where are the 14 other units going to park?” she asked.

Gino Muia, president of the ratepayers association said: “There’s no need to destroy our community with this type of development.”

The traffic study was inaccurate, said Mary Prospero. Done in July 2021, many people worked from home and there were no buses, parents or teachers on the road, Prospero said. The study found the development would not produce an unsuitable amount of traffic.

Jackson said she found the application’s assertion that the development “caters to the community” striking.

“In what form could a seven- and nine-storey building cater to the community?” she wondered.

Kotsopoulos countered that the ground floor businesses are a continuation of the current plaza and there would be further discussions with the public.

“We’re optimistic the proposal will be changed,” Glass said.