Some south-end residents are concerned about the impact a major new development on Sycamore Drive will have on their neighbourhood.
The issue came before Brandon City Council on Tuesday evening, when approximately a dozen residents came to express their worries over traffic, light pollution and privacy. Council debated and eventually approved a new concept plan for a 200-unit residential complex off Sycamore Drive, but not before several people came forward during a public hearing.
The owners of 1640 Sycamore Dr., formerly the Kingsway Kort mobile home park, asked council to amend a concept plan the company originally put forth in 2014. The original concept plan was to build a total of 440 housing units across the two south-end sites, which would have included 40 row houses and 400 apartments.
The plan was to develop the Sycamore Drive location in tandem with the owners of 21 Willowcrest Ave., but the agreement fell through. The owners of the Sycamore Drive property, Freedom Communities Inc. now want to build a maximum of 208 residential units on the site, spread out over two four-storey residential buildings.
Dennis Bercier, president of The Landings condominium board — a nearby neighbourhood — said he neither opposes nor endorses the project, but is worried about the how the development will deal with flood water, which is the most significant concern raised by councillors and residents.
Currently, the parking lot is designed to be used as an overflow pond, with excess water accumulating in tanks underneath until it drains.
He said residents weren’t given information on the topic before the public hearing on Tuesday, but that he was satisfied after hearing the plan has the approval of city engineers.
Several councillors, including Coun. John LoRegio (Meadows), also raised concern about drainage. He asked about the effectiveness of letting water pool in the parking lot when other developments use a formal drainage pond to collect water.
Kris Mailman, COO and executive vice-president of Seymour Pacific Developments — the builders — said similar designs for water have been used at the company’s other properties in British Columbia. He said the water will only reach a depth of three or four inches in the centre of the parking lot.
Bercier and other nearby residents also raised concern about the traffic volume in the area and the availability of parking. After The Groves on Tracey Street was completed, it increased traffic volume on Sycamore Drive already, before the proposed additional 200 units are even added.
"The proof is going to be with what the city does after the development is completed, once they start their traffic studies to see what the traffic volumes are and what the speeds are," he said.
"We can raise the concerns but it almost is a little premature until it actually is in existence type of thing. Hopefully, they heard our concerns and we’ll continue to work toward that."
The city’s chief planner Ryan Nickel said the development is set to build more than 1.5 parking spots for each unit. Rachel Ricard, assistant development manager at Seymour Pacific Developments, said parking will also be in the centre of the development, mostly enclosed by the two buildings — so the intention is for more people to park on-site, rather than on the street.
Some residents also brought up the safety of children waiting for school buses. Cars already break the speed limit on Sycamore Drive and the residential development will only increase the number of children waiting for the bus along the road.
The intention is for people to use the street parking along Sycamore Drive, Nickel said. When more people park along the road, it will force all drivers to slow down and drive to the conditions. The only reason people can speed now is the street is so wide when nobody parks on it.
When reached on Wednesday, Bercier said he felt like his and other residents’ concerns were heard by council and the developer. While there are still fine details to be worked out, hopefully the outstanding issues will be addressed.
"That’s basically all we can hope for."
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