Belmont Village group concerned its unique community will be replaced by tall condos
Low rise buildings line Belmont Avenue West between Glasgow Street and Union Blvd. The Zehr Group has applied for amendments that would allow it to build a 13 storey condo on the former Dettmer Tirecraft location in the foreground.
by Helen Hall
June 8, 2021
Maureen Ferraro describes Kitchener’s Belmont Village as the type of community that “city planners dream about.”
A ‘village’ within the city, the community offers all the amenities within walking distance as well as a quaintness, with its independently-owned shops and restaurants.
But Ferraro fears that this will change if the City of Kitchener allows a 13 storey condominium building at 660 Belmont Avenue West, where Dettmer Tirecraft was situated for many years. The building will have commercial on its ground floor and 163 residential units above.
The Zehr Group has approached Kitchener Council to get an Official Plan and a zoning amendment that would allow a building that is much taller than any other along that section of Belmont Avenue.
Ferraro is part of the Leadership Group of the Friends of Belmont Village. They met with Don Zehr, the Chief Executive Officer of Zehr Group, in the spring to try to come to an agreement.
The Friends of Belmont Village would like the Zehr Group to stick to the eight storey limit that is currently the rule for their neighbourhood in the Official Plan.
Kitchener Senior Planner Garett Stevenson said the height of buildings in every neighbourhood in the city is outlined in its Official Plan. Belmont Village is zoned as a ‘mixed use’ neighbourhood that combines commercial and residential properties, and it permits buildings that are eight storeys or 25 metres in height.
Another city policy allows developers to apply for a 50 percent height increase, which must be approved by council.
According to Stevenson, this would permit the Zehr Group to apply for a building 12 storeys or 37.5 metres high. However, it is applying for it to be 13 storeys and 49 metres high.
Stevenson said that Belmont Village is an area targeted for “intensification” so council will consider the request.
Ferraro is afraid that if the city allows this condominium, that will be a “towering inferno” over all the other buildings on that section of Belmont Avenue West, it will set a “dangerous precedent.”
Ferraro said developers have bought other buildings in Belmont Village and they will be watching what council allows.
“That is what everyone is worried about,” Ferraro said. She thinks that the quaint village will disappear and the individually owned shops will be replaced with condos.
“They (developers) sell an image of our lives, which won’t exist anymore when they replace the neighbourhood with condos.”
In addition to being concerned with the height of the building, Ferraro’s group is also concerned about the shade it will throw on the neighbourhood, the increase in traffic, and its lack of parking spaces.
She believes that if the building is kept to eight storeys, Belmont Village will do its part to assist in the intensification of the city.
“Don is a good developer and does quality work,” Ferraro said. But she doesn’t see the need for a condominium that high in Belmont Village.
“The residents of this community and the City of Kitchener cannot be held responsible for the developer’s profitability. He says eight storeys isn’t feasible for him,” said Ferraro. “Well, we can’t be held ransom or be responsible for his need to make money or his vision. It’s our community.”
Stevenson said the work on this application is not complete and it has not yet been scheduled to go before council.
He said the best place for residents to find up-to-date information on any planning application in Kitchener is to go to www.kitchener.ca/planningapplications
Don Zehr could not be reached for comment.
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