A proposed condominium development at the corner of Braecrest Drive and 18th Street North finally got the green light from Brandon City Council meeting on Tuesday after compromises were made to address nearby residents’ concerns.
Caddy Lake Development had initially proposed building seven condos on the lot in 2012, but retracted the proposal after nearby residents expressed furious opposition during a city planning commission meeting.
Last year, Caddy Lake submitted another proposal for the site but with only five units. Locals aired their grievances again, mostly regarding increased traffic and safety issues resulting from that, but the planning commission voted in favour.
However, the city waited before holding a third reading on the bylaw to rezone the property in order to hear out concerns from opponents of the plan.
Those concerns seem to have borne fruit as an altered plan was submitted to council reducing the number of units from five to three and changing the proposed rezoning from residential large lot zone to a combination of residential single-detached and open space zones.
A series of emails between city staff, the developer and concerned locals attached to the agenda for Tuesday’s meeting show what concerns nearby residents had and how the problem was resolved.
In advance of the planning commission meeting last September when the development was addressed, city staff received 17 emails expressing opposition.
While there was a mix of concerns between the emails, a concern brought up in all of them was that there were already existing access issues for people trying to access 18th Street North, and they feared adding more residents and cars would only exacerbate the issues.
"As we all know there is already an issue with access to 18th Street from this corner and adding a multi-unit complex would only increase the pressure here," Arlene Carlson wrote to the planning board on Sept. 15, 2020. "To be honest, I’m wondering why the city would even entertain such a proposal."
There were also concerns about removing a green space from public use, exacerbating drainage issues and reducing privacy for nearby residents. On the subject of rezoning the land, other points against the development were brought up alongside reiterations of the original concerns.
An email sent to all city councillors on Oct. 20 voiced concerns that traffic from the two units that border a service road running along 18th Street North might impair access to the neighbourhood for locals.
Another email said that the proposed development and rezoning would benefit everyone but local residents.
"The only winners in this proposal are the applicant from Winnipeg who will benefit from profits made in the sale of this property, the engineering consultant for their fees and the city who will gain more property tax when this property is divided into five lots," Lorraine and Robert Hargreaves wrote.
On Feb. 22 of this year, Daniel Burns of Burns Maendel Consulting Engineers Ltd. wrote a letter on behalf of Caddy Lake to the city proposing scaling back of the development.
"While we are of the opinion that the low density, five-unit proposal adhered to planning principles while respecting the nature of the area, we understand that neighbours are still concerned with the density," Burns wrote. "As a result, we have reduced the units in our proposed development to include three Residential Single Detached (RSD) parcels as per the attached drawing. It is with this reduction that we anticipate the neighbourhood will support this project."
After that concession, concerns appear to have been reduced but not eliminated.
"I have reviewed the new proposal and once again not fully in agreement," Pam Skatch wrote to the city on March 31 this year. "I am fine with the development of the single-family dwellings of units one and two but I do not feel that three should be included in this plan. I still see traffic issues for 18th Street and us turning into the existing access. I can foresee my road being blocked by people who think they can park on the road where we enter and exit."
The city’s director of planning and buildings, Ryan Nickel, said during Tuesday’s meeting that public feedback improved overall after the new proposal was drawn up.
Talking about the traffic concerns brought up by nearby residents, Nickel said the city is trying to address them as quickly as possible.
However, he said that the initial traffic flow assessment for the original proposal indicated a minimal impact and that development on the east side of the intersection is a greater driver of increased traffic.
"We believed strongly that the previous plan was an excellent plan," Burns said at the meeting on behalf of the developers. "However, we’re willing to move to this in order to hopefully some of the neighbourhood concerns. We’ve done a lot to work with engineering, work with (Manitoba Infrastructure) to try to predict the challenges that we’re going to have in the future so that we have design solutions when it comes to final design."
Coun. Jeff Fawcett (Assiniboine) asked Burns if the units on the lot will be sold individually or separately. Burns said it was difficult to predict, but he believed it was most likely that shared infrastructure would be put in and then all three units would come online at once.
During council’s debate before the vote, Fawcett praised the developer for addressing residents’ concerns and said the right-of-way allowances being made in the development would speed up needed improvements to the 18th Street North and Braecrest Drive intersection.
Coun. Shawn Cameron (University) voted against the development, saying that he has seen troubles with condo developments in his ward.
"I don’t have opposition to growth and the infill development there," he said. "What I am fearful of is it’s potentially a cart before the horse in the sense that until that Braecrest intersection is addressed properly, I’m fearful that we develop this land and potentially hamstring ourselves again and the Braecrest development moves forward and it creates complications with this property there."
Mayor Rick Chrest said the subject was complicated and that he appreciated the developer’s responsiveness to the concerns of nearby residents.
Coun. Shawn Berry (Linden Lanes) said that he was around for the original proposal in 2021 and that the new, smaller proposed development was more digestible.
He had concerns regarding the traffic development as well, but also regarding traffic flow along 18th Street once the Daly Overpass replacement work starts in earnest and traffic is slowed along the length of the road.
"To have construction going on at that corner on a major street when there’s going to be another major construction going down, it concerns me," said Berry. "I remember when they were building the Thompson Bridges across the river there years ago and how backed up traffic was both ways a lot of time with the single lane."
Coun. Glen Parker (Riverview) said in response to Berry that he didn’t think private construction on private land would affect the public construction project. However, he hoped that the proposed traffic circle for the intersection and the home developments weren’t going on at the same time.
Coun. Jan Chaboyer (Green Acres) said she believed concerns over the development had been sufficiently addressed by the developer.
Cameron ended up being the only councillor to vote against the development.
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