A proposed development in Kanata has hit a bit of a snag. The proposal for 1131 Teron Road calls for some rather tall buildings, and these buildings may not completely jibe with the overall vision of the neighbourhood. The city, treading carefully, has decided a little more reflection would be wise:
A decision on a proposed nine-storey building in Kanata was deferred Tuesday at planning committee for two weeks to give the community’s venerable founder Bill Teron time to design something nearby residents might like better.
Two quick thoughts:
1. Concerns of residents are important, but not paramount. Anecdotally, it seems that council is getting more interested in community consultations for development plans. This is a good trend. Residents of a neighbourhood are stakeholders in the project, even if they don’t own the land or won’t have their property directly affected by the development. A development that could have a radically negative impact on the life of the community should be undertaken with caution.
However, they don’t own the area. Development will go on even after you move into your pristine enclave. Cities and neighbourhoods grow, develop and change, and buying a little square of land does not permit anyone from barring others from using and enjoying the surrounding area. Property rights, though useful, are a limited social construct. Don’t make them more than they are.
2. How much control should Bill Teron have? Basically, Mr. Teron is the father of Kanata. He designed the original community, Beaverbrook, striving to create a Garden City. There is some logic to consulting with Mr. Teron in order to create a design that would adhere to the vibe of Beaverbrook. Hell, the land is on Teron Road.
But as with the views of existing residents, there is a question as to how much weight should be given Mr. Teron’s views. Mr. Teron may have been the original designer of the neighbourhood, but he has no special claim to the area now. Neighbourhoods grow and change; we can’t assume that the original vision has persisted, that it should persist or that residents would even want it to persist.
One of the reasons for intensification at this site is that it will be close to a mass transit hub. It is the city’s plan that the areas around these hubs should have greater density. This is eminently valid. Sprawl puts a great strain on transit infrastructure, as well as an added strain on our environment. Facilitating the use of efficient transit alternatives helps to alleviate the negative externalities of suburban living that are placed on the rest of the city. Even if such a policy clashes with a 50-year-old vision, it still holds value for the community and the city.
As an experience developer, Bill Teron may hold insights into the direction of this project. He may even have an answer that all parties will love, but he shouldn’t be held up as some oracle who can enlighten us dirty, sweaty masses. Such an appeal to authority is a pretty basic logical fallacy.