Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Kitchissippi had more residents like Anna Jahn, who was featured in the Humans of Kitchissipi segment of the October KT! She wanted to build community, to get to know her neighbours better, so she organized a neighbourhood dinner, with almost 130 residents in attendance. Obviously she cares about her neighbours. I wish I got the same feeling from the “Let there be light” piece, about a new double being built on Java Street.
While the city and province proclaim an official policy of intensification, here in Kitchissippi, the most re-built ward in the city, there are real divisions regarding infill housing. Drive around Tweedsmuir Ave., where signs titled “Stop Over-Intensification” have sprouted on many lawns. Those homeowners bought houses because they liked the traditional feel of the neighbourhood. That traditional feel is disappearing as office-type buildings invade our old fashioned streets. We are not opposed to intensification, if it is done with careful consideration to the existing houses. We’re not against doubles. We’ve had them for many years but they were the same style and size as their neighbours. They did not stand out. Infill guidelines have improved over the past few years, but the reality still seems like the “wild west”, with wealthy buyers and greedy developers calling the shots.
In their quest to maximize profit by selling doubles, builders often use cheap materials to cover gigantic edifices. A friend of mine looks out her living room windows and all she can see is the corrugated steel wall of the new double next to her. Remember when corrugated steel was only used for farm sheds? This example illustrates the main problem with most intensification… the blatant disregard for long-time residents.
Thank goodness there are examples of appropriate infill being built. For an example of a new house, that conforms to neighbourhood standards, simply look across Java to #20. That new house has a similar scale, style and materials to the existing houses. It can be done. You can build singles and doubles with modern features and not antagonize your new community.
We all live in dread that our neighbours will put their homes up for sale.
Mary Ellen Kot
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