March 29, 2018 by James Griffin
Saturday's letter to the editor
BELLEVILLE - Development a perfect fit for core
Vancouver development company FairTradeWorks is proposing a mixed-use retail, six storey 80-unit condominium on the former site of the Quinte Hotel. Belleville is a city on the move with the newly refurbished Yardmen Arena home to a professional hockey team it is time that the city’s downtown catches up.
This is not an idea that is new to Belleville, in 2006 the city introduced its Downtown Master Plan (DMP). The plan was initiated as downtown Belleville’s historic function of being a primary retail and employment centre decreased. The decline over the last four decades has had negative impacts on downtown. The investment of a Vancouver-based company in Belleville’s downtown is just what the city needs, as long as the development conforms to the Official Plan (OP) and, more importantly, the award-winning DMP.
The site has been vacant since December 2012 when the four storey hotel burned down. Under Belleville’s zoning bylaw #10245, the site is currently zoned C2 General Commercial. In Belleville, areas that are zoned general commercial are permitted to have residential units as long as they are above the first floor. Within Belleville’s OP the site is designated as city centre, under this designation the OP encourages developments which will increase the diversity and vitality of the downtown.
The DMP breaks downtown Belleville into four distinct districts. The site falls within The Village district. A key objective for The Village district is to ensure new developments enhance east-west connections to facilitate greater pedestrian traffic by reinforcing physical and visual linkages between neighbourhoods. The DMP suggests that mixed-use, multi-storey developments be built and designed which correspond to the urban profile that is consistent with the guidelines for mid-rise buildings in the plan.
In my opinion, due to the guidelines which have been outlined, the development is excellent land use planning for Belleville. The development will help shape downtown Belleville into the place it once was. The proposed six storey condo follows the guidelines for the city centre as laid out in the OP such as encouraging residential mixed-use compact developments. The development will conform to the city centre designation by enhancing the downtown core as a major focus of economic activity. After a review of the zoning bylaw, it is clear that the building should stay a C2 General Commercial zone designation, as this designation is most apt for a mixed-use building with commercial at grade and residential above.
The development does an excellent job in following the guidelines laid out in the DMP, as the development would increase east-west connections by facilitating greater pedestrian traffic through the amenities on the lower level, along with reinforcing a sense of community within the neighbourhood.
My concluding thoughts are that this investment by a Vancouver-based company is a fantastic opportunity for the entire Belleville community. Their investment, which is founded upon terrific land use planning guidelines, is what makes the development significantly beneficial for Belleville.