ADDED Saturday Mar 3rd - 2012
High-Rise Development Plans Downtown Guelph
Original Email Friday March 2nd, 2012:
Mme Mayor and Members of Council,
I have some concerns about the proposed development on the corner of Macdonnell and Wellington Streets. While I think most Guelphites are supportive of increased density in the city, the proposal for 18 storeys goes beyond the point where increased density would be of benefit to the downtown and the community.
I think 18 stories is excessive for the vision that we as a community have worked so hard to bring about. Such an increase in building height will correspondingly lead to a decrease in the aesthetics of the building and dominate many parts of the landscape of the area. Also, allowing this proposal to go ahead as presented could lock the city in to ONLY permitting proposals of this type. Why would a developer bother to propose to build six storeys in the downtown when they can build 18 along the perimeter?
I would caution the temptation to be lured by the potential tax revenue.
Any new development especially when it requires controversial changes to our Official Plan and Zoning bylaws, could also result in tax expenditure whether it's to deal with unforseen traffic management issues, safety concerns or emergency services.
Michael Mehaffy of the New Urban Network (http://bettercities.net/news-opinion/blogs/michael-mehaffy/14138/more-low-down-tall-buildings),
writes that research shows that there is an optimum density, above which the negative effects of density start to increase over the positive ones. He claims that that the optimum density seems to be in the neighborhood of about 50 people per acre not the 150 as stated in the City staff report. Mehaffy asserts that many cities around the world achieve this density without tall buildings, and while creating a very appealing, livable environment. Our Downtown Secondary Plan gives quite a range of building heights (anywhere from four to 18) which implies to me that it IS possible to realize our density targets without such a dramatic increase in building heights. Given the upcoming meeting to update our Official Plan lets ensure that we continue to stick with our overall vision for a healthy, vibrant community through the use of lower building heights.
Response Email to G. MArch 3rd, 2012:
Thank you for mailing me your comments about this proposal.