Proposed massive development at 146-150 Laird

Artist's rendering of 146-150 Laird Dr.
Artist’s rendering of 146-150 Laird Dr. proposal.

VIVA Retirement Communities has applied to create a major development at 146-150 Laird Drive, across from the Smart Centre mall, on a very large site which includes the two three-storey office/retail buildings south of McRae, as well as the Golden Griddle restaurant and its parking lot. One of the existing office buildings is the old Durant Motors building, a listed heritage property.

Several hundred very concerned Leasiders filled the William Lea Room at the official meeting held by the City’s Planning Department on February 9.

The developer seeks to build an 8-storey rental retirement building with 175 units, and a seven-storey seniors’ condominium with 109 units, connected by a three-storey bridge. Such heights are two and a half times the height permitted by current zoning.

Massive is the term that comes to mind.

As you can imagine, it was a lively meeting.

Attendees criticized the application in strong terms. The proposed heights would plunge Randolph Road’s back yards and houses into deep shade for most of the day, year-long, exacerbated by insufficient setback between the proposed buildings and the homes immediately behind.

People raised privacy concerns as well. Given their heights, these buildings would tower over the neighbourhood and be visible from afar.

Another big issue is the traffic which would be generated by this complex, especially given Laird’s current at-capacity congestion. Some said that there should be a moratorium on development in Leaside until there is a tough traffic plan to protect our residential streets.

Moreover, it was pointed out that, while VIVA’s proposed 183 parking spaces (located in three underground levels) were likely to be insufficient for a seniors’ care facility, with its frequent car movement related to staff shifts, suppliers, visitors, and residents, even this amount of vehicles would worsen problems on Laird.

A long-time member of the Leaside Business Park Association said that locating residential buildings on Laird would also negatively affect the Leaside Business Park across the street: it would lead to erosion of the area’s employment and industrial activities which require sufficient separation from residential uses to meet safety regulations. If these businesses were limited from carrying out their normal activities, they would be forced to move away.

Finally, there was also a concern that, if built, it would create a precedent for future similar giant residential developments all along Laird’s west side.

LPOA will provide regular updates on this web site as the VIVA application makes its way through the City’s planning process.

(The above is an extract from the March 2015 edition of Leaside Life: Anger at big plans for Laird