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Seniors’ apartment proposed for Church St., Elmira

Two older buildings on Elmira’s Church Street would be replaced by a four-storey seniors’ apartment complex under a plan floated at Woolwich council this week.

Cameo Homes Ltd. hopes to build a 20-unit structure at 30 and 32 Church St. W.  In order to do that, the company needs Official Plan and zoning changes from the township. The public meeting Tuesday night in council chambers was the first step in that process.

Artist's rendering of a seniors' building proposed for 30-32 Church St. W. in Elmira.
Artist's rendering of a seniors' building proposed for 30-32 Church St. W. in Elmira.

The township would have to increase the allowable density on the properties, while reducing the setbacks from neighbouring land, among other concessions, explained Dan Kennaley, Woolwich’s director of engineering and planning.

Planner Brian Shantz, representing the company, said the project would help alleviate a huge backlog in demand for seniors’ apartments in Elmira. The project has the support of the Woolwich Seniors Association.

“There is a lack of senior housing options,” he said, noting the presence of retirement, assisted living and nursing homes in the town. “No other facility like this proposal exists in Elmira today.”

The lack of seniors’ apartments has forced people out of town, he added.

Along with serving “a well recognized need in the community,” he argued, the project meets the requirement for intensification and infilling. The location is ideal, being close to downtown, amenities, shopping and transit.

Mary Jordan, representing the seniors’ group, said the association has been trying for years to bring just such a project to town – “This is several years overdue.”

Most recently, the group spearheaded a campaign for seniors’ apartments at the former Procast Foundries site on Church Street East, a bid turned down by council. In the years since, the demand has grown, making the Cameo plan even more pressing, she said.

Given the country’s aging population, waiting lists will only continue to grow, Jordan stressed.

While there were no objections raised to the plan, an owner of one of the neighbouring properties did question the need for four storeys, noting the building would overshadow surroundings structures.

As Tuesday’s meeting was only for information, councillors held no discussion about the plan. The project’s merits will be debated at a later date, after planning staff review all comments before coming back with a recommendation report.

Shantz noted, however, that a relatively quick decision would allow work on the site to begin this fall, with occupancy next summer.

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  1. Knocking down the historic buildings that make life sweeter in Elmira, when there is already so much undeveloped vacant land — the Procast foundries, all those empty lots in the Racetrack development, the farms about to be bulldozed on the north side of Church St, and the empty lots on Park St. and Arthur St. S.

    Whose life is being made sweeter? Certainly not the people who live in Elmira.

    –Bob.

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