Tensions rose near the boiling point Tuesday night as Boudreau Communities unveiled its plans to extend the Botanica development with two high rises over 25 storeys tall.
More than 150 Oakmont and area residents attended the open house at the St. Albert Inn to see plans for Riverbank Landing, a “mixed-use” community expected to be completed by 2028 and will include the addition of 500 residential units.
Residents expressed outrage at the proposal, citing concerns over ruined views, shaded properties, congested traffic and suffering through up to nine more years of construction.
Boudreau president Dave Haut said the development will be an urban village with a “live, work and play” environment. It will be built on the four-acre parcel of land that was formerly Hole’s Greenhouse.
The proposal includes six buildings: two residential high rises (a 25-storey tower and a 28-storey tower), a 12-storey private seniors housing unit, a new restaurant architecturally inspired by Hole’s Greenhouses Old Red Barn, and two commercial and professional buildings.
Some residents said bringing this development to the community would force them to move out of their dream homes.
Dan Basso, a resident of Orchard Court, said he is “full of anxiety” about the proposal.
“If this tower goes up – I know I’m just one person – but you’re forcing my family out,” he said. “I built my dream home there. It’s an eyesore.”
During the presentation, Haut said Boudreau thinks two tall towers is the “best way to develop” the site.
“We do have the choice: we could do a lower, long, big building that casts a bigger shadow and takes up more scenery, or we could do skinnier towers,” he said.
In an interview after the open house, Haut said Boudreau is “willing to look at adjustments,” which may include moving one of the towers or reducing the towers’ height “somewhat.”
Boudreau plans to submit its application to the city next month, which will include amending the Oakmont area structure plan (ASP) and land use bylaw from direct control to direct control mixed use. Haut said Boudreau hopes to have shovels in the ground by next summer.
Mayor Cathy Heron said council is responsible for approving heights of developments, so that is something they will look at when the proposal comes before council. She added she thinks it will be a “long haul” and there will be development on the site, but it will be a bit of “back and forth negotiations.”
“I do think a high rise in a downtown is a bit more appropriate than in other residential areas, but it’s a good conversation to have with the community and whether they’re ready for it,” Heron said.
The mayor added it will be about finding a right balance of “residents’ rights and developer rights.”
For more on this story, pick up a copy of the Saturday, Sept. 14 edition of the Gazette.