Sarnia’s skyline is about to jut upwards.
Council approved a 19-storey condominium tower overlooking Sarnia Bay last week, despite objections from neighbours who argued the building is too big for the property at 135 Water St.
Coun. Bill Dennis spoke for the majority when he said the project’s benefits outweigh the negatives.
“(Development) is critical for our general economic growth. We quite simply do not have the luxury to say no to new development and the creation of jobs,” he said.
The condo tower’s plans include ground floor commercial space, a parking garage on levels 2-5, an amenities floor for gym and recreation rooms on level 6, and 100 private condo units on the floors above.
The building exceeds nine different planning bylaw restrictions, including those for height, setbacks, parking and lot size. Its 19 stories are four more than permitted in that zone.
“The bylaws have a purpose,” said Judith MacDonald, speaking on behalf of residents in nearby Bayview Towers, who object to the loss of views, sunlight and insufficient parking.
“The building is too big, too tall for the size of the property,” she said. “There is only 53% of the required land, under our present bylaws, available.”
Nevertheless, City Hall staff recommended approval and councillors voted 7-2 to grant the requested relief.
The property at 135 Water St. is occupied by Sarnia Rent-All and was purchased by businessman Henry Mehta in 2013.
Mehta told council the project will create 70 jobs over two years of construction, and another 10 to 20 full-time jobs.
Asked if he was willing to compromise on size, he said 100 units are needed to make the tower economically viable.
Mehta added that he and representatives from the architectural firm Baird AE will work with concerned groups during the site planning process.