Peterborough residents rally against apartment building development in Armour Road neighbourhood

Neighbourhood group cites increased traffic, loss of potential commercial use of property as main grievances

Adrienne Abrahamse addresses a large crowd that turned out Thursday night (July 16) in the parking lot of Thomas A. Stewart Secondary School in Peterborough for a rally against the proposed rezoning of land at Armour Road and Cunningham Boulevard that will allow a seven-storey apartment building to be constructed. The rezoning recommendation, changing the land use designation from commercial to high density residential, was carried in committee on July 6 but will go to full council for a final vote July 27. (Photo: Paul Rellinger / kawarthaNOW.com)
Adrienne Abrahamse addresses a large crowd that turned out Thursday night (July 16) in the parking lot of Thomas A. Stewart Secondary School in Peterborough for a rally against the proposed rezoning of land at Armour Road and Cunningham Boulevard that will allow a seven-storey apartment building to be constructed. The rezoning recommendation, changing the land use designation from commercial to high density residential, was carried in committee on July 6 but will go to full council for a final vote July 27. (Photo: Paul Rellinger / kawarthaNOW.com)

If there’s still something to be said for power in numbers, consider it said — with an exclamation mark.

A rally organized by the Frances Stewart, Ashdale, and Armour Road Residents For Harmonized Communities (FAAR Residents) saw close to 200 people, many brandishing placards, come together Thursday night (July 16) in the parking lot of Thomas A. Stewart Secondary School (TASS) in Peterborough, before walking to the site of a planned seven-storey apartment building at Armour Road and Cunningham Boulevard.

On July 6, Peterborough city councillors, sitting as general committee, voted 7-4 in favour of changing the vacant site’s land-use designation from commercial to high-density residential, clearing the way for the Parkview Homes development to proceed. The proposed rezoning will go to council on July 27 for a final vote.

Advertisement - story continues below

 

 

“We’re not anti-development, we’re against crazy development that’s going to have to be fixed after the fact,” stressed rally participant Greg O’Heron, who was also one of six residents who had spoken against the zoning change before council via a speaker phone call.

One of O’Heron’s concerns with the zoning change is that it removes an option for the commercially underserviced neighbourhood. A sign on the property still promotes a commercial neighbourhood plaza with a bank, grocery store, drug store, restaurant, and more — even though the developer now intends to pursue high-density residential development.

This billboard, located in a vacant field at Armour Road and Ashburnham, has long advertised the original intent of Parkview Homes to develop the site for commercial use. Now Parkview wants to build a seven-storey apartment building on the site. On July 7, Peterborough city council, sitting as general committee, voted 7-4 in favour of changing the land use designation from commercial to high-density residential.  (Photo: Paul Rellinger / kawarthaNOW.com)
This billboard, located in a vacant field at Armour Road and Ashburnham, has long advertised the original intent of Parkview Homes to develop the site for commercial use. Now Parkview wants to build a seven-storey apartment building on the site. On July 7, Peterborough city council, sitting as general committee, voted 7-4 in favour of changing the land use designation from commercial to high-density residential. (Photo: Paul Rellinger / kawarthaNOW.com)

“The biggest nut to overcome is that this is the only commercial plot from Parkhill to Pioneer Road. From my house, you’re 1.7 miles to a store. So now, rather than active transportation the city is promoting — foot, skateboard, bike or anything else — you’re in your car. If you live in this (Armour Road) corridor, every time you need something, you’re in your car.”

And then there’s the increased traffic concern.

According to a media release issued by FAAR Residents, more than 600 additional vehicles will find their way onto the already busy Armour Road — not only because of the apartment building planned for Cunningham Boulevard, but also another residential development proposed for a vacant lot just north of TASS.

Close to 200 people, many of them carrying placards, walked north on Armour Road Thursday night (July 27) from the Thomas A. Stewart Secondary School parking lot to the proposed site of a seven-storey apartment building at Armour Road and Cunningham Boulevard. Organized by FARR (Frances Stewart, Ashdale and Armour Road) Residents For Harmonized Communities, rally participants voiced their opposition to the high-density development and the impact it will have on their neighbourhood.  (Photo: Paul Rellinger / kawarthaNOW.com)
Close to 200 people, many of them carrying placards, walked north on Armour Road Thursday night (July 27) from the Thomas A. Stewart Secondary School parking lot to the proposed site of a seven-storey apartment building at Armour Road and Cunningham Boulevard. Organized by FARR (Frances Stewart, Ashdale and Armour Road) Residents For Harmonized Communities, rally participants voiced their opposition to the high-density development and the impact it will have on their neighbourhood. (Photo: Paul Rellinger / kawarthaNOW.com)

While the latter development is not as far along in the process, it calls for the construction of two six-storey apartment buildings comprised of 122 units as well as 126 townhomes.

“There’s good development and there’s bad development,” said Ashburnham Ward councillor Keith Riel who, along with fellow ward representative Gary Baldwin and councillors Kim Zippel and Kemi Akapo, voted against the zoning change. Mayor Diane Therrien and councillors Stephen Wright, Andrew Beamer, Dean Pappas, Don Vassiliadis, Henry Clarke, and Lesley Parnell voted in favour of it.

“We all know there’s a need for housing, but this city needs geared-to-income housing,” Riel said. “These are all high-end apartments. But the biggest concern is Armour Road. We’ve asked for a traffic study. You’ve got the biggest high school here (TASS) and Trent University up the road. We’ve already had a traffic cop here two hours every morning. Traffic is going to get worse.”

 A large crowd gathered Thursday night (July 16) at the site of a proposed seven-storey apartment building at Armour Road and Cunningham Boulevard to rally against the project, citing increased traffic and flooding concerns, and with no stores within walking distance of the neighbourhood, the pending loss of the site's commercial use designation.  (Photo: Paul Rellinger / kawarthaNOW.com)
A large crowd gathered Thursday night (July 16) at the site of a proposed seven-storey apartment building at Armour Road and Cunningham Boulevard to rally against the project, citing increased traffic and flooding concerns, and with no stores within walking distance of the neighbourhood, the pending loss of the site’s commercial use designation. (Photo: Paul Rellinger / kawarthaNOW.com)

According to O’Heron, aside from the two proposed developments themselves, another point of contention for the group is council’s consideration of the rezoning recommendation during a time when council meetings are being held virtually due to COVID-19 restrictions.

“The whole process has been really tainted,” says O’Heron, adding “The billboard there (on the development site) still says it’s going to be a plaza, so everyone assumes it’s going to be a plaza.”

“My first question as we head into stage three (of the COVID-19 recovery plan) is if the (council) meeting on July 27th is going to be in person or is it going to be on the phone? Why not put it off until delegates can be there in person?”

Advertisement - story continues below

 

 

According to the FAAR Residents’ media release, “Many in our community … may not have the technological savvy to navigate online meetings. This is unfair to those who are most affected by the rezoning. We feel that things have been pushed through without fair and equal process.”

Organizers of the rally, such as O’Heron, are hopeful their coming together as a community will make a difference.

“If we can defer it (the final vote), councillors can get more information about the issues we are raising,” says O’Heron, whose family ties to the area date back to the 1870s.

 One of the many placards seen at the July 16, 2020 rally against a proposed high-density residential development on Armour Road in Peterborough.  (Photo: Paul Rellinger / kawarthaNOW.com)
One of the many placards seen at the July 16, 2020 rally against a proposed high-density residential development on Armour Road in Peterborough. (Photo: Paul Rellinger / kawarthaNOW.com)

Councillor Riel adds the squeaky wheel still gets its share of oil, noting he’s hopeful the rally will prompt his council colleagues to visit the neighbourhood, view the proposed development sites, and come away with a clear understanding of what those in the community are concerned over.

As for those who would view the residents’ concerns as just another case of NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard), O’Heron has a message.

“Take our flyer, look at the Auburn North Secondary Plan, Schedule N, and realize that everything north of the property we’re talking about is zoned medium or high density,” O’Heron explains.

“You’ve got all the opportunities in the world (for residential development). Don’t take that only commercial development away from us. Don’t put high density on a low-density island.”

The proposed high-density residential development on currently vacant land at 1176 Armour Road in Peterborough.  With the location originally zoned as commercial, the developer had planned to build a commercial plaza at the property but now intends to develop a seven-storey apartment building. (Graphic via City of Peterborough)
The proposed high-density residential development on currently vacant land at 1176 Armour Road in Peterborough. With the location originally zoned as commercial, the developer had planned to build a commercial plaza at the property but now intends to develop a seven-storey apartment building. (Graphic via City of Peterborough)
A drawing showing the shadow of the proposed seven-story building  at 1176 Armour Road in Peterborough during the winter solstice. (Graphic via City of Peterborough)
A drawing showing the shadow of the proposed seven-story building at 1176 Armour Road in Peterborough during the winter solstice. (Graphic via City of Peterborough)

For more information, visit the FAAR Residents website at faarresidents.com.

Previous articleOne new COVID-19 case in Kawartha Lakes
Next articlePeterborough newcomer women create hand-stitched masks for Fleming College
Paul Rellinger
Paul Rellinger a.k.a Relly is an award-winning journalist and longtime former newspaper editor still searching for the perfect lead. When he's not putting pen to paper, Paul is on a sincere but woefully futile quest to own every postage stamp ever issued. A rabid reader of history, Paul claims to know who killed JFK but can't say out of fear for the safety of his oh so supportive wife Mary, his three wonderful kids and his three spirited grandchildren. Paul counts among his passions Peterborough's rich live music scene, the Toronto Maple Leafs, slopitch and retrieving golf balls from the woods. You can follow Paul on Twitter at @rellywrites.

Comments