THUNDER BAY — To the chagrin of some residents already concerned about traffic, the Parkdale subdivision— a neighbourhood comprised mostly of single-family homes—is poised to get its first medium-density apartment blocks.
The development was not unexpected, as plans for Parkdale have always included a provision for multi-unit buildings.
At present, however, the biggest existing project is a six-unit townhome.
A numbered company has purchased property in the Weiler Boulevard area from Di Gregorio Developments, and is believed to be planning two 28-unit buildings.
Decio Lopes, senior planner for the City of Thunder Bay, confirms "there is activity going on to, essentially, create apartments."
In an interview with Tbnewswatch, Lopes noted that "When Parkdale was first approved, years back, apartments were always contemplated. It was pre-zoned, especially on the north side of Weiler. Now we're just seeing the development get to that point where they're being built."
The existing townhomes were constructed on land that was originally designated for medium-density.
If the apartment blocks are constructed, they will be in the same general vicinity.
Don Wilson, a resident of Parkdale for 17 years, said traffic is already bad on Porcupine Boulevard where he and his wife reside.
He's long been aware that apartment blocks were on the drawing board, but feels further expansion of Parkdale should be postponed until traffic and safety problems can be mitigated.
"We have one bridge access...the traffic is a nightmare. It's congested...you can sit at that traffic light for two or three lights before you can move anywhere," Wilson said Monday in an interview.
He also worries, he said, about the safety of residents trying to leave Parkdale at the same time in the event of an emergency such as a serious fire.
Wilson said that he believes that, some years back, "They were supposed to do a traffic study, to see what the traffic would be in the area, whether it would be in the Parkdale subdivision or the access to it. If the city has done that, they haven't released the statistics."
A spokesperson for the city could not be reached Monday to clarify the issue.
Noting that the province won't allow access from Parkdale to the Thunder Bay Expressway, Wilson said "I don't know what the solution is, but they need to have some sort of public input, and I know a lot of people in the area would attend it."
Neighbours, he said, are concerned that unless traffic flow is improved "Somebody is going to have a serious accident, or with all the kids in the neighbourhood riding their bikes and skateboards, somebody could get killed."
Wilson said he's not opposed to development, but "we have to work smarter at what we do" in terms of managing Parkdale's expansion.
A recent administration report to city council indicates there is potential for about 350 apartment or condominium units in the section of the subdivision where the two apartment blocks are proposed.
City council also set the stage for apartment buildings to be constructed at the intersection of Parkdale and Weiler Boulevards back in 2016 when it approved the sixth stage of the development.
That section was originally designated a commercial and school block, but rezoning now permits medium-density housing there, totalling more than 100 units.
According to the administration report, more than1,200 apartment units would be allowed in draft approved future stages of the Parkdale development.
Under the existing zoning by-law, high-density housing projects would also be permitted in the subdivision.
There is no current requirement for a second road access into the Parkdale as a condition of existing development plans.