Controversial Wonderland Road tower approved by London, Ont. city council – London

Estimated read time 4 min read

A fiery debate and warnings about increased traffic did not dissuade London, Ont., city council from approving a controversial 25-storey tower in a northwest commercial plaza.

Councillors voted 12-2 Tuesday afternoon to approve the 219-unit development at 735 Wonderland Rd. N. proposed by York Developments.

Ward 6 Coun. Sam Trosow and Ward 13 Coun. David Ferreira opposed the vote. Ward 1 Coun. Hadleigh McAlister was absent.

During the debate, councillors raised concerns about increased traffic and the nearby Middlesex-London Paramedic depot on Horizon Drive.

The area is designated as a “transit village,” a remnant of the original bus rapid transit plan shelved by council in 2019. The designation lifts some restrictions on height and density to help support alternative modes of transportation.

Trosow put motions forward to consult with the Middlesex-London Paramedic Service about traffic mitigation and for staff to study how an extension of Beaverbrook Avenue and Westfield Drive would affect cut-through traffic in the area.

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“We can’t make these cumulative traffic, transit issues go away,” Trosow said. “The fact that we do not have an area plan to guide us in an overall matter, makes it all the more imperative that we look at these questions in each individual application.”

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While the motion to consult the MLPS was passed through without any trouble, Trosow’s other motion was struck down.

Deputy Mayor Shawn Lewis says the motion would have attached something to the site plan that isn’t related to the developer’s work.

“Further to that, I believe that if the councillors want staff to produce a report on filter permeability for traffic mitigation, that should come through a motion at Civic works specifically,” Lewis said.

“I really think that we’re missing what our role is under the Planning Act and approving this application for a zoning change to start attaching conditions that are related to another application.”

The debate got a little heated when the motions were shot down. Trosow, the ward councillor, said the development disregarded those who lived in the neighbourhood.

“The fact that you have an EMS station and back of this and they weren’t even consulted, really speaks to some of the problems that we’ve got,” Trosow said. “We are sticking our heads in the proverbial sand by narrowing our focus to just this application.”

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Ward 12 Coun. Elizabeth Peloza called a point of personal privilege at the remark, saying she’s done her “due diligence” and read the report. A second was called by Ward 11 Coun. Skylar Franke when Trosow didn’t retract his statement.

“I’m going to reframe it…I’m retracting and I’m going to say it in a different way,” Trosow said. “I don’t know what your problem is.”

Mayor Josh Morgan put a swift end to the spat, emphasizing that opinions need to be expressed to other members of council in a respectful way.

“You cannot do what you just did and that is look at someone across the room and say (I don’t know what your problem is), we will do things through the chair,” Morgan said.

Trosow apologized for the comments, but maintained his position, saying when council evaluates an application, “you can’t stop at its borders.”

“You can’t stop at its physical boundaries. You have to take into account the cumulative effects of everything else that is going on in the area.”

Morgan weighed in on the debate himself, saying the official plan still designates the area as a transit village, despite the cancellation of the original plan.

“I recognize that councillors are concerned about challenges and there are challenges this area and every other area of the city that is growing from congestion, livability services in the area, all the things and all the challenges that growing city has,” he said.

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“This is a Transit Village, so I don’t see anything within this application that doesn’t align with that sort of decision making.”

More information about the development can be found on the City of London website.

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