In the next few weeks, 10 very liveable houses are scheduled for demolition in my Kitchener ward.
Owned by Sun Life Financial, the houses, facing Park Street near Union Boulevard, are on the fringe of the very established Mount Hope community in the Cherry Park neighbourhood.
Years ago, as a local journalist, I wrote about other demolitions in the area that took place to help create a large surface parking lot located between King West, Union, Park and Mount Hope streets.
At that time — partly to appease area residents concerned about loss of housing stock —agreement was made to leave the Park Street houses standing and, for several years, they provided office space for local charities. The homes have been empty since the charities moved out.
Now, Kitchener staff rubber-stamping the loss of the houses say that, under the city’s bylaw, they have no control over the planned demolitions.
The Sun Life houses are exempt because they are no longer in Kitchener’s demolition-control residential areas. These zones, protect low-density residential units but not those located in “mixed-use” corridors adjacent to the upcoming LRT route. Apparently the issue of loss of residential units is not considered a problem in these areas because there are usually more units planned to be built than the number being demolished.
Perhaps so. But, at the very least, the company and the city could and should have made even a token effort to alert nearby residents across Park Street along with the Cherry Park Neighbourhood Association. Even if it was only to provide information about any type of proposed development for the site.
That way we might have benefited from some healthy debate about the tragic loss of existing houses in order to expand a surface parking lot in a Region that currently has at least 3,000 people languishing on a waiting list for affordable housing.
And, while we’re at it, we could have also considered the future, potential loss of additional houses in those mixed-use corridors.