Uptown Waterloo development a 'monster,' mayoral candidate says

Two mayoral candidates question the condo and STEAM centre development at the corner of King Street and Bridgeport Road in uptown Waterloo. One says he wouldn't have voted for it while another says she wonders if the project was passed too quickly.

'This monster will absolutely destroy the uptown Waterloo spirit,' Chris Kolednik says

A former post office at the corner of King and Bridgeport in uptown Waterloo will be replaced with a condo development that will also include a new science, tech, engineering, arts and math centre called Launch. (Image provided)

A new development at the corner of King Street and Bridgeport Road in uptown Waterloo is a "monster" one candidate for mayor says.

Chris Kolednik said he would not have voted in favour of the development at 70 King St. N.

"This monster will absolutely destroy the uptown Waterloo spirit but most members of council interested in selling out Waterloo for taxation dollars. Disgusting," Kolednik tweeted.

On Monday night, city council approved the HIP Developments project, which will include two condo towers and a "podium" of non-residential space.

The podium will be home to LAUNCH, a new STEAM (science, tech, engineering, arts and math) centre. It will be four-storeys tall (23 metres) and is adjacent to King Street. One tower adjacent to King Street will also be 11 storeys (46 metres) while a second tower on Regina Street would be 24 storeys (81 metres).

Councillors had to amend the city's official plan for the project because the current bylaw limits buildings to 16 metres along King Street.

Waterloo will now as the Region of Waterloo to approve the amendment to the official plan to allow the development.

Vote should have been postponed

Mayoral candidate Kelly Steiss wrote a post on Linkedin where she said she went to Monday night's meeting with "much hesitation" but "to my surprise, I was inspired."

She said she agreed with the goal of the development but was concerned it appeared council was seeing some information about the building's density bonusing — which allows a developer to build more floor space than usually allowed in exchange for things like affordable housing and other amenities — for the first time at the meeting.

Steiss thought the vote should have been postponed until councillors and staff could review it more closely.

In an interview with CBC Kitchener-Waterloo about seeking re-election, incumbent Dave Jaworsky said the city needs to grow up, not out, and he thinks residents understand that.

"I think what's important for people to realize is we have to maintain our environmental stance and not sprawl onto farmland," he said.

"We need to put up buildings that are going to last 100 years that look good and we need them to hold as many people as possible so that we don't have to spread the towers into many, many different areas that are less appropriate."

The development required a zoning amendment to Waterloo's official plan. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

Growth needs to 'make sense'

In an interview in August, Steiss said it's important the city protects the look and feel of uptown Waterloo. She said residents are telling her they're not opposed to developments, but the city needs to grow up in a way that reflects the neighbourhoods where the developments are going.

"I want to make sure that as we grow the uptown and as we move forward, that we are growing our city in a way that makes sense," she said.

"That we stop and take stock of what we need moving forward and that we really embrace this idea of growing together, where it's about the co-ordination of what the developers have to offer, what our community wants, and then it's the leadership that mayor and council can provide to implement those visions."

In a similar candidate interview, Kolednik said Waterloo has not been respecting the views of residents when it comes to development.

"You've seen these condo towers go up just overnight basically in the last four or five years without basically any public input. Now with the new comprehensive zoning bylaw change, you're going to see kind of more development projects creeping into residential suburbs. I don't necessarily agree with that," he said.

He said he doesn't agree with the proposed Beechwood project, which would see a 13-storey residential tower in an established neighbourhood.

"Those residents have been there 20, 30, 40 years. For something to come in, it would basically be like plopping an industrial building into a residential neighbourhood," Kolednik said. "It sticks out like a sore thumb and it doesn't belong."

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