It is no secret that the homeowners to the north of Highway 7, just east of Warden are not fans of development. It is nothing new to the area, with the large crop of condos built continuously along the south side of Highway 7 between Warden Ave. and Birchmount Rd.

This time, however, developers are looking at the…wait for it…NORTH side of Highway 7 and local residents are up-in-arms. These are the same people who have expressed a distaste for the newly minted “Downtown Markham” rife with condominiums, restaurants, plazas and a cinema complex.

The SAME residents who are likely spotted at Whole Foods – which sits in the heart of development – each and every day, week, month and year.

This is not, however, the first condo to go up on that side of the regional road, as the construction of Wyview Group’s Unionville Gardens complex is in full swing. The difference with that project is that the KRCMAR construction project sits in the heart of new townhouse developments.

Reid McAlpine, Ward 3 Councillor was tasked with an “informal community meeting” as he put it to discuss the new low (or high) rise complex planned at 3882 Highway 7.

Anyone with any involvement in the community already knew how the meeting was going to go – not well – and everyone was prepared for it. The outbursts and cries of individual homeowners were met with calm certainty by project representatives.

The projects is being steered by Bousfields, Inc., a leading community planning firm working with Graziani + Corazza Architects Inc. to build a low-rise condo, pending approval. If the community consultation was anything to go by, then there will be lots of opposition at upcoming council meetings.

But, this is always the case in this particular area, and the reasons are vast like sunlight, landscaping, property value, privacy, traffic and even garbage pick up. Contending with the small group of homeowners at last night’s meeting required a very thick skin, especially if you were one of the hapless souls representing the development.

Questions about blocking sunlight, for example, were not just limited to homeowners but extended to residents of the Verclaire Gate 40-unit condominium. It begs the question whether that development was as hotly protested as this new one in its day…I expect so?

If approved, the new eight, or 10, or whatever story building will stand between Verclaire Gate and the rising sun. Another concern repeated at the meeting was of the privacy of backyards, particularly on Tenbury Dr. that sits perpendicular to the planned development.

Residents asked the presenters how they would feel if someone’s balcony was overlooking their lots. They were met with open ears and closed mouths, also known as, no response which begs another question. Don’t condo and apartment buildings sit adjacent to housing developments in other parts of the GTA?

The entire conundrum of homeowners in Unionville and, God forbid, Main st. begs an investigation into where one person’s ownership ends and another’s begin? Owning one plot of land does come with it’s features (internal and external) and enjoyments but to what extent can that be preserved?

Anyone who has ever opened a history book or looked at a historical work of art, literature or film knows that TIMES CHANGE. This also means that CITIES CHANGE. In fact, one of the most vocal attendees at the meeting continuously referred to Markham as a town and not a city.

All will come to light at the formal statutory public consultation, where I am sure we will hear again about how the new building will be like a “stick in the mud”. In a completely unrelated issue, Ward 4 Councillor Karen Rea has this to say about development:

“When there is a Committee of Adjustment meeting for a new infill project, residents need to come out and voice their opinion. The committee are very good at listening to the concerns of the local residents. Having said that we need some type of architectural control in place as some do not ” fit in ” with the neighbourhood. Established neighbourhoods should be protected from in appropriate development.”

Councillor McAlpine assured residents that he was hearing their concerns loud and clear and that the final proposal will not be “exactly what we (saw last night).”

He also reminded attendees that, as a fellow resident, he stood in solidarity with them opposing the soon-to-be-built 40-storey skyscrapers just east of Warden.

Time will tell if he opposes the new proposal and whether his newly-minted council vote will make a difference either way.

(Article update to include information about Unionville Gardens and insight from Karen Rea, Ward 4 Councillor.)