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The proposed development on Braidwood Avenue and Monaghan Road. Photo: The Peterborough Examiner

More Temporary Solutions: Peterborough’s City Hall Meets For General Committee

Written by
Abbigale Kernya
and
and
June 7, 2023
More Temporary Solutions: Peterborough’s City Hall Meets For General Committee
The proposed development on Braidwood Avenue and Monaghan Road. Photo: The Peterborough Examiner

Peterborough City Council held both a General Committee Meeting and a Special City Council Meeting on the evening of June 5th, 2023.

As the first order of business, Mayor Jeff Leal announced (now former) Commissioner of Infrastructure and Planning Jasbir Raina’s, appointment to be the new Chief Administrative Officer. “[Raina] Bodes well for the future of this community,” said Leal.

Council approved and ratified the vote to hire Raina during the Special City Council Meeting.

 “I can assure you that I won’t let you down,” said Raina.

550 Braidwood Avenue—the proposed site for the construction of a 77-unit residential development—was next on the agenda. The four-storey unit would comprise 71 apartment dwelling units, and six townhouse units. Currently, there is a one-storey building on site, including the Habitat for Humanity ReStore. The proposed development is to take place on the vacant portion of the property.

The application brought forward asked council to approve a Zoning By-Law Amendment from an industrial district to a modified residential zone.

Two delegations spoke on the proposed build. 

Kyle Chamberlain, a resident whose backyard directly faces the future building, spoke about the infringement of his privacy. 

“Your backyard is your serenity,” he said, “I want to make sure my backyard is not going to be taken from me.” 

Chamberlain stated he wants to be made aware of the location of dumpsters “so my backyard doesn’t smell like garbage,” fencing locations, and if there is a plan to provide trees to further strengthen his already lessening privacy.

Councillor Kevin Duguay asked Chamberlain, who had just recently bought his house in June of 2022, if he was made aware of the proposed construction. Chamberlain stated that he was not made aware when he gained possession of the house and he “wouldn’t have bought the house if [he] knew.”

In response, Director of Planning Development and Urban Design, Brad Appleby, stated that the pre-consultation phase began in April of 2021 and was deemed complete in May of 2022. Chamberlain said the previous homeowners did not relay the build to him, stating again that he would not have bought the property had he known. 

“It’s unfortunate that during the purchasing sale that you may not have been aware,” said Duguay.

Community member Nancy Jackson spoke as the second delegation about the importance of considering the well-being of children and families within the building. Jackson questioned if the proposal has allowed enough room for children to grow. “I don’t see any courtyards in the planning, I don't see any greenspaces…it can't be just an apartment complex,” she said.

In response, Councillor Alex Bierk said “A lot of the housing that we are seeing are capitalizing on our need for housing and I question the sustainability of all of them,” further highlighting Peterborough’s housing crisis and the need for affordable and sustainable housing for everyone—including children.

The vote approving the recommendations was carried unanimously, with Councillor Leslie Parnell abstaining due to a conflict of interest. 

The second item, presented by city planner Christie Gilbertson, moved to approve a 6th dwelling unit at 53 and 59 Leahy’s Lane. Council carried the vote, with Councillor Duguay abstaining due to a conflict of interest.

Thirdly, a Zoning By-Law Amendment for 376 Rubidge Street was proposed to allow an office space within a residential building. Jamie Hoefling, the agent speaking on behalf of the property, asked for the current residential district to be modified into a commercial district. 

The vote carried, with Councillor Duguay once again abstaining due to another conflict of interest. 

Councillors then spoke about the reconstruction of Armour Road from Hunter Street to Clifton Street. The reconstruction also includes pedestrian signals on Duro Street, and stormwater management. The estimated cost of the projects is finalized at almost 9.5 million dollars.

A list of amendments was added to the report: a $1000 budget to be included in the 2024 budget, that the pre-approved $6,950 from the 2023 budget be increased by $1,550,000, that the tender—GIP Paving Inc—be provided $7.3 million, and $200,000 be provided to allow the Commissioner of Infrastructure and Planning Services authority to spend a maximum of $6.6 million if needed in order finish the construction.

Total project cost. Photo: Report IPSENG23-010

The vote to approve the recommendations, again, passed unanimously.

In the most abundant conversation of the night, council members were asked to converse about the effectiveness of new or temporary traffic signals located at the intersection between Brealey Drive and Cherryhill Road—a high-traffic area, currently managed by a four-way stop unable to effectively guide the high volume traffic.

The report brought forth to council recommended a reconstruction of Brealey Drive—a motion that has been deferred since 2018 due to a lack of funding and stress on the yearly budget. 

Councillor Vassiliadis proposed an amendment of $160,000 to be pre-approved in the 2024 budget to implement temporary traffic signals. “I want to see this happen in 2025. [If delays continue], I have a hard time believing that it's going to,” he said. 

Councillor Matt Crowley shared that “the one thing [he] heard the most is the state of Brealey'', echoing the urgency to move forward with action. 

Mayor Jeff Leal also shared his approval of temporary lights, “as we [build] the 2024 budget, this has to be on the front burner.” 

Councillor Alex Bierk raised concerns over the suggested amount of money being invested into a temporary solution to a bigger problem. 

“Could we set aside the $160,000 for temporary lights and put a focus on the project as a whole, would that be more prudent and the better route?... We’re just going to have to redo it at some point sooner rather than later.” He said, and asked his fellow council members: Vassiliadis, Duguay, and Crowley, if they believe temporary lights will hinder the long-term goal, and “if they’re at all concerned if that money is going to be spent temporarily?”

Vassiliadis said because the report has been delayed so many times and is currently pending, the fastest action to “get traffic moving” is to move forward with temporary lights, but said he welcomes this conversation during budget meetings in order to discuss re-design and timeline of the reconstruction.

Parnell stated that in Peterborough, “temporary often does not stay temporary,” and shared she would support the amendment. 

In response to the back and forth, Asset Management and Capital Planning Director, Michael Papadacos, stated that there is a historic pattern of the council not following through with funding in these situations.

“With all due respect, we have another example of a project that staff have had sitting on the books pretty much ready to go, and every year we get a budget guideline that doesn’t provide us with enough funding to implement the projects that have been given to us by council…There isn’t much benefit that taxpayers and residents are going to receive unless we make an additional level of investment to actually approve the intersection to its state that has been identified by what it needs to be and our needs…We are under-investing in our infrastructure as a whole by $70 million dollars a year.'' He said.

He also shared that the reason Peterborough has a large burden of infrastructure in the first place is because of unsustainable development patterns from 1950 to the 2000s that is not reasonable to continue. 

Councillor Gary Baldwin also shared that he is not comfortable spending $160,000 on temporary lights and is “not convinced [it would move traffic] any more than a four-way stop would.”

The vote to implement temporary lights carried 7-4 with Riel, Leal, Haacke, Vassiliadis, Crowley, Parnell, and Duguay voting in favour, with Bierk, Baldwin, Beamer, and Lachica voting against. 

The final proposal of the General Committee was the approval of a speed reduction in school areas, in addition to the implementation of community safety zones (CSZ) throughout the city. Starting with a pilot project, the motion would test out the CSZ and the reduced speed limit around five schools, one in each of Peterborough’s wards beginning as early as October.

The proposed speed reduction suggests a lowering from 50 km/hr to 40 km/hr and 30 km/hr within school zones. 

“No, signs won’t solve everything. But it’s a start,” said Lachica. 

However, not all councillors were convinced that simply lowering the speed limit would stop dangerous driving within school zones. “Until we have photo radar and we hit them in the pocketbook, we can put up signs until the cows come home and motorists still won’t stop speeding,” said Councillor Riel.

CSZ would be chosen by council and implemented around school zones with identifiable signs and speeding fines doubling within the imposed area.

Additionally, many Councillors spoke about the need for enforcement to ensure the success and safety of this proposal. The Peterborough Police Service will be enforcing the Highway Traffic Act in the proposed CSZ with the possibility to provide Automated Speed Enforcement within the recommended CSZ if needed.

City Treasurer, Richard Freymond, also reminded council during talks of budget—of which the proposed speed reduction plan is estimated to cost $625,000 in total, with available funding to be requested in the future Capital Budget—that they did approve $150,000 for automated speed enforcement in the 2024 budget, saying “let’s just get on with it.”

Photo: Report IPSENG23-014

The movement to decrease speed limits within CSZ passed unanimously. “This is long overdue,” said Councillor Duguay. 

Council held a Special City Council Meeting directly after the General Meeting. During this, Jasbir Raina was officially ratified into his new position as Peterborough’s CAO.

At the end of the Special Council Meeting, Councillor Lesley Parnell—who is also the chair of the Youth Commission—asked staff to prepare a report on the 2024 budget to include room to provide free transit for youth aged 13-18, stating that the city needs to help young people get to work and activities. 

Council approved the motion unanimously.

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