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City should buy Birchaven land from developers: resident

It will cost North Bay less to buy a package of Birchaven land from a developer than to deal with the high costs that will follow if a residential project is built there, area resident Catherine McGirr told the Community Services Committee Monday nig
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It will cost North Bay less to buy a package of Birchaven land from a developer than to deal with the high costs that will follow if a residential project is built there, area resident Catherine McGirr told the Community Services Committee Monday night.

“It’s just going to cost, cost, cost, cost us in traffic, congestion, cost us in safety, in the quality of our lives,” McGirr told BayToday.ca following the meeting, “and the only ones who are going to win are the people making money.”

McGirr said development should take place "further out" instead.

Outstanding issues
Grand Sierra Investments Ltd. owns 11.65 hectares of wetlands located along Sage Road adjacent to Circle Lake and wants to build 37 single-family homes and a yet-to-be determined amount of townhouses on the parcel.

The company was at the committee meeting of council seeking a zoning amendment and subdivision agreement to allow its development to go through.

But the matter was referred back to committee by chairman Dave Mendicino, who said there were just “too many” outstanding issues to resolve before approval could be given to proceed.

Quality of life
McGirr said the solution was to have the city buy the property from Grand Sierra.

“It’s going to cost us millions after all the problems if the development goes through, and it’s probably cheaper just to purchase it and keep the quality of life in North Bay as it should be,” McGirr said.

Council heard concerns from residents about traffic congestion, overtaxed water and sewer infrastructure, and the permanent loss of wetlands if the project were to go ahead.

Undesirable
One of the most significant matters brought up was the fate of a park located at Sage Road and Shallot Crescent, which residents said they built on 1.5 hectares of land now owned by Grand Sierra, but that had been previously leased to the city by the Near North District School Board.

A city recommendation would see the park moved to a larger piece of land closer to Sable Crescent.

McGirr said the proposed location abuts a Trans Canada Pipeline pumping station, making it undesirable for a park.

“Every ball, every football, every frisbee is going to land in there and who’s going to get it,” McGirr said.

“Are we going to be encouraging children to go into dangerous places and pick up an item.”

Natural environment
Grand Sierra wants to transfer 27 hectares of land surrounding Depensiers Lake and the northern portion of Twin Lake to the city for parkland, as part of its proposal.

“What’s being offered here is a very large portion of natural environment that’s going to come into city control which is presently privately controlled,” Miller said.

“We have no natural park areas within the city limits that are anywhere near the size of that. The residents out there treat that as if it is a park today but it actually is private land designated for development and zoned that way in the city’s Official Plan.”

Miller also said the school board had offered the piece of land in question to the city, but the previous city council turned the offer down.


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