Oh the irony.
A planning consultant says that a luxury auto dealership planned for Palladium Drive will be pedestrian friendly.
I’ll admit, a lot of the information contained in the Proposed Zoning By-Law Amendment Planning Rationale for 2499 Palladium Drive, 2500 Palladium Drive and 675 Autopark Private is over my head, but I know enough to read these documents with a certain degree of skepticism.
Stay with me here…
The three properties are part of the Palladium Auto Park, roughly across the street from Canadian Tire Centre. They’re currently zoned “General Mixed Use” GM22 (H12), which allows car dealerships. One of the conditions of the zoning is intended to “limit commercial uses to individual occupancies or in groupings in well defined areas such that they do not affect the development of the designated Traditional and Arterial Mainstreets as viable mixed-use areas”.
In this case, there’s a limit of 21,135 square meters of cumulative gross floor area for automobile dealerships.
The landowners (“958740 Ontario Inc. – Palladium Auto Park Co-Tenancy #2, the land unit owners under OCVLC Plan No. 690 and Tony Graham Motors”) are asking for a minor zoning amendment to exceed that total gross floor area.
You see, the seven dealerships that have been built so far total 20,269 square meters, and a new Nissan dealership that’s in the works will bring the total up to over 23,000 square meters. (The City granted the Nissan dealership a minor variance to allow it to proceed, despite exceeding the maximum.)
The group’s planning consultants, Lloyd Phillips & Associates Ltd. and Stantec Consulting Ltd., are proposing that the gross floor space cap be dropped entirely. They say it was put in place nearly 20 years ago because of limits to sanitary sewer capacity, but conveniently, a new study shows that’s no longer a concern.
Without removing the development cap, the rest of the land along Palladium Drive can’t be developed – at least not as auto dealerships.
I have to wonder, if the existing Palladium dealership owners knew they were working under a strict floor space limit, why did they keep building such large showrooms? The consultants say the size of typical auto dealership buildings has kept growing since the land was originally zoned.
(A concept map for the parcel of land known as 2499 Palladium Drive includes six buildings with a combined floor space of over 12,000 square metres.)
Maybe the city should say “no” to this proposal, and use the existing zoning to stop more land from being paved over for car lots. Don’t we have enough places to buy cars out here? After all, there’s a proposal to build three more car dealerships just to the south at 195 Huntmar, and for a permanent lot at 5835 Hazeldean Road.
One last thing: In the conclusion of the planning rationale document, the authors state that the new auto dealerships “respects the prevailing context and character of the area, including its variations in land use, density, topography, and the road and pedestrian network.”
A rough translation: “Palladium Drive is a wasteland of parking lots in an environment that’s extremely hostile to anyone who isn’t driving a car. These new auto dealerships will fit right in.”