Chair, NENa Planning Committee
When North End residents started working with the City in 2004 on the plans for the waterfront, the primary concerns were parking, traffic and protecting the neighbourhood as a stable child and family friendly neighbourhood. That was accomplished by an agreement that would see 750 to 1000 homes on Pier 8. This total number of units would have provided approximately 400 family units. Those family friendly units were important for several reasons. Our two schools would benefit from an increased supply of students. With families on both sides of Guise Street, the Pier 8 development would be less likely to become an isolated community. With parents living on Pier 8, questions of street safety for children would be as important for residents on Pier 8 as they are for the rest of the neighbourhood.
When the final plans were released in 2014, the number had been unilaterally increased by the City to 1600-1800 units. This not only seriously reduced the number of family units but seriously increased the traffic and parking demands. A number of local residents appealed the City decision to the Ontario Municipal Board. The OMB is now called the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal and in the summer of 2019, LPAT started a hearing of the appeal. The hearing turned into a mediation under the direction of the Chair of LPAT and a settlement was reached.
The settlement included traffic changes on John Street, completion of the protection of Ferguson Avenue, an improved entrance to the neighbourhood designed to calm drivers and a proposal to build a tall building on Pier 8.
The resident appellants agreed to this, after consultation with a cross section of local residents. Because the City, the developer and the appellants all agreed that the number of units on Pier 8 was fixed at 1640 units, building a tall building would reduce the density of the rest of the Pier. This means a potential return to the original planned number of family units, which was a major issue.
In the settlement the City agreed to look at approving a tall building next to the Discovery Centre and hired Calvin Brooks as the architect to conduct that study. Mr. Brooks took the elevation of Hamilton’s tallest building, Landmark Place at 100 Main Street East, and carried its elevation to the waterfront. This produced a 45 story height for the new building.
Meanwhile, the developer had hired Bruce Kuwabara to produce the design. Bruce grew up in the North End and has had an amazing career, including receiving the Order of Canada. He knows our neighbourhood well. After a comprehensive study of the idea of a tall building, he produced a design for a signature building. The basic concept is to build a building that people will see as the signature of the waterfront in the same way that the Marilyn Munroe (Coke) buildings are the signature of downtown Missisauga, the High Level bridge is the signature of our city entrance and similar buildings throughout the world become the brand of the City. Mr. Brooks said his criteria was that the new building should make people happy when they see it.
The 10 members of the NENa Planning Committee conducted their own study of the project and made a unanimous recommendation that the proposal should go forward to further study at 45 stories. That recommendation was presented to a public meeting held on ZOOM and has now gone to City planning. Next steps include looking at issues of traffic, parking, park access, harmony with adjacent planned buildings and wind hazards. That process is expected to take several months.
To be kept in the loop for future developments, please email the NENa Planning Committee c/o firstname.lastname@example.org. The NENa Planning Committee report is on the NENa website: https://northendneighbours.blogspot.com. The ZOOM meeting was recorded and the presentations can be seen by googling “NENa Pier 8 Video”. Residents can also subscribe to the NENa newsletter by going here: http://eepurl.com/bbPR6X