Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Parkland Dedication Deputation by Karen Rea to DSC June 11, 2013

Parkland Dedication

Here we are back again, fighting the same issue.

The staff report says, approach should be simplified, should be fewer categories for reductions, and incentives for higher development. The incentive for higher development, is that they sell more units and charge a floor premium. We don’t need to give up parkland that we should be entitled to!

Per your report, most of the development in Markham is below 3.0 FSI, So why are we even having this conversation, there is no need to discuss a reduction, as it would never be used. Or is it that once it is adopted, the flood gates will open and we will see much more higher density and less and less park land.

Reading through both reports and on page 23 on the recommendation report states: BILD indicates that the majority of Markham higher density development sits within 3.5 to 5.0 FSI range (something a little different than what the Towns report states.. who are we supposed to believe??) and that the proposed graduated scale provides real relief only at density rates higher than this. They would like to see the lowering of the threshold in order to allow more developments to take advantage of the reduction incentive. 

The incentive that was originally to start at 2.5 FSI has been raised to 3.0 FSI, which you may say great- we have a compromise, However the incentive rises to 30% from 25 %...  

Whose interest are we looking after the developers or the residents?

Development charges are outrageous in York Region, and we seem to keep asking the developers to contribute here and donate here, maybe we need to stop asking for extra money for anything and everything. Maybe then they will stop asking us to give them a break with the parkland. The extra monies that they spend have to come from somewhere.. nothing is free! However, parkland should not be an option and should not be up for discussion.  This is vital to the well-being of every resident, it’s important for our real estate values and the quality of all our lives.

There have been many studies comparing the health of people related to the green space that surrounds them.

Many of us know intuitively that green space, parks, forests and trees make us feel better. They refresh and recharge our batteries, bringing peace and tranquility. It improves our well-being by reducing stress and fatigue and improving mental health and longevity. The closer the green space is to our homes, the more benefit we derive from it. In fact, there’s a growing body of research on green spaces and their positive impacts on the health and wellness of children and communities.

The percentage of green space inside a one kilometre and a three kilometre radius had a significant relation to perceived general health. The overall relation is somewhat stronger for lower socioeconomic groups. Elderly, youth, and secondary educated people in large cities seem to benefit more from presence of green areas in their living environment than other groups in large cities. Yet we would like to discard these people from having adequate green space.

Exemptions for retirement homes and affordable housing and non-profit is not acceptable. Everyone needs green space and everyone has the right to have some fresh air, a place to relax, read a book, walk a dog or just spend some quality “me time” in an open air park, square, or a park bench, regardless of age.

The developers are going to build, regardless of whether you change the parkland dedication. As in a real estate transaction, you ask for everything when you send over an offer and in the end you may get nothing and you pay the full asking price.

The builders are not going to lose money if they do not get an “incentive” They all charge floor premiums of an average of $1000.00 per floor, which more than covers what they have to pay for the parkland. A unit on the 20th floor is essentially $18000 more than the identical unit on the 2nd floor.  Buyers don’t get a discount or a break to purchase on a higher floor. They pay more… yet the developers want to pay less?? Where is the fairness in this equation?

Parkland is a high quality public realm that has a tremendous value for all. 

As citizens, residents, taxpayers of Markham, we urge city staff and the City Council to not lower the required amount of parkland dedication required by builders. We should be actively conserving, protecting, restoring, enhancing, and expanding natural areas and green space for public enjoyment, community health, and ecosystem resiliency.”

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