Sackville Town Council hears about plans for luxury, downtown apartments

Artist’s drawing of proposed Lafford apartment building

Sackville town councillors heard publicly tonight about JN Lafford Realty’s plans to build a luxury apartment building on the former United Church property at Main and York Streets overlooking the Mount Allison campus, the Swan Pond and the Waterfowl Park.

John and Joe Lafford are asking town council to rezone a small parcel of land at the rear of the old United Church cemetery on Main Street so that the development can proceed.

Mayor John Higham clarified a key point with town planner Lori Bickford: that if council decided not to rezone the land, the Laffords could still erect a smaller building on the site and use the parcel behind the cemetery for parking.

At the moment, the Laffords are proposing to put the parking underneath the larger, 44,000 square-foot building that would cater to tenants over age 55 able to pay monthly rents ranging from $1,250 to $1,700.

Joe (L) and John Lafford on the site of the proposed building

Councillor Bill Evans spoke in favour of rezoning the small parcel from institutional to mixed use — a designation that permits higher density developments in the downtown area.

He pointed out that when the Laffords bought the United Church land in 2012, town council decided then to rezone most of it as mixed use, but wasn’t sure of the boundaries, so a small part remained institutional.

“For me, this is a fairly easy one to justify,” Evans said. “It’s consistent with the other use of that whole area, it’s consistent with our municipal plan and zoning bylaw that we would do this.”

Evans said that after The New Wark Times published a story about the proposed development, there was a lot of excitement.

“People have come up to me and said, ‘How do I sign up for this?'” he added.

“I know people of a certain age, some of them, and this is an attractive option, the location is ideal, so I got no problems with this, this makes sense to me.”

Council is expected to decide at its next meeting on Monday whether to proceed with the rezoning application and then, schedule a public hearing on the matter.

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14 Responses to Sackville Town Council hears about plans for luxury, downtown apartments

  1. Rima Azar says:

    The picture is very nice. It looks like a beach (or seaside) resort to me :).
    I just wonder if the age of 55 and older is not considered a form of discrimination.

    • ADB says:

      Yeah, and how come only children get to eat off of kids menus? 🙂

    • Azi says:

      In reality, there is no beach on that site and in fact, there are two other similar buildings on that site. Very close to each other. I find the rendering misleading and unreal.. it doesn’t belong to that site. I suspect it may have been a copy of a similar generic apartment being built somewhere else and used here for sake of presentation only.

      • Erna Duchemin says:

        Thank you Azi for saying that. I don’t think it shows us what it will look like at all. We need to see more of the surrounding area to get a true perspective of how large it is.

  2. G says:

    Didnt Gordon Beal ask for permission to build a seniors complex not too far from where this proposal is and was turned down. Just saying.

  3. Erna Duchemin says:

    I hope the people who live there understand there are two student buildings right beside them. They should be aware that it will be noisy many nights. It looks like another boxy apartment building. Let’s hope expensive materials will be used so that the building looks good after one year.

  4. Trish Phinney says:

    We do have alot of seniors in town, and with the location, and under ground parking, I think there will be alot of interest in the building. My only concern would be with so many empty apartments around, will this one fill up or will they have a hard time keeping it occupied? Besides that, I think it is worth the shot.

    • Rima Azar says:

      Hello Trish. The underground parking may be appealing but the high price would likely be a turn off. It is expensive even by Toronto standards. If we compare this to the $850/month in rent for wonderful apartment units (elsewhere in town) where peoples’ cars are outside yes… but close to the apartment and with the battery charged in the winter, why would we want to live in such an expensive building? This being said, of course people are free to do what they want with their money! I do not know about them but had I been potentially interested in residing there one day myself, I would perhaps worry about about the risk of flooding in the parking.

      Azi, I am sorry to hear about Mr. Beal’s rejected application. It makes me think of the Gas Bar station’s story (the Alders). I wonder what criteria did the Town of Sackville use to assess his proposal when it rejected it.

      Mind you, I am asking this question with nothing against Mr. Lafford himself (I did not have the chance to meet him in person yet). However, reading through all the comments, our Town’s behaviour appears consistent: It smells like favouritism to me. I wonder if that is the case and, if so, what motivates it?

      Councillor Evans, can you tell us more about the number or the comments of people who came to you excited about this project? I am curious :).

      Thank you.

  5. Meredith Fisher says:

    Thank you, New Wark Times, for this story.
    According to Councilor Evans, this rezoning is a “no brainer” and the idea of putting up a multi-storey deluxe apartment building (this would increase the rental units to this downtown area to how many?) is so exciting. Personally, my brain is telling me that the “CEMETERY ARMS ( Resting place with Underground Parking For Wealthy Seniors)” project is a prime example of why our Municipal Plan is badly in need of a “make over” in its DENSITY section. The beauty of Sackville is that it has traditionally not been a place that is crammed and cramped, squeezing developments into every nook and cranny. Anyone wanting this kind of life would look at living in Toronto or Shanghai….. not Sackville. What might attract wealthy seniors to live here is to see a little town that keeps lovely green treed areas, does not destroy important history, respects the idea of treasuring it’s charm and natural beauty (and fresh air), looks toward the future with imagination and creativity. We are very lucky to have this community. We have, here, what most communities can only dream of. To preserve this, we need to tread carefully into a sustainable, successful future. Yes, construction jobs and property tax recuperation are certainly important reasons to encourage development. The footprint of the municipality of Sackville consists of 78 square kilometres so there is tons of room to build out and still have many a beautiful view.

    • Rima Azar says:

      I like how you have phrased this Meredith– Thank you: “What might attract wealthy seniors to live here is to see a little town that keeps lovely green treed areas, does not destroy important history, respects the idea of treasuring its charm and natural beauty (and fresh air), looks toward the future with imagination and creativity”.

      I keep wonderful memories from my first drive through the town of Bouctouche (and nearby villages) along the Acadian coast. I recall having been moved by the beautiful, well-maintained cemetery near the church (overlooking the ocean). I saw beautiful blue lights on each grave. Under the moonlight, the scene was magical. There were also colourful flowers by the blue light on each grave. When I saw this, I remember telling myself: This is a community that knows how to honour its deceased loved ones. I love this beauty and the spirit of Maritimers! I took a picture and shared it with my parents (to convince them to visit us :)).

      Thus, I see what you mean when you write about honouring history instead of destroying it. You are likely referring to the sad chapter of our town around the destruction of the old white beautiful church downtown (as old as our country—150 years old). Being born in a 6000-year-old tiny country, you can guess that history means a lot to me too. Whether we admit it or not, history (even when we destroy it) remains part of us… I am perhaps writing this whilst thinking of the tragic destruction of century-old churches or Yazidi temples by barbaric freaks who sadly infest the Middle East (who kill in the name of religion) or by other type of criminals who do not hesitate to kill even innocents (to preserve their power– as fascist dictators).

      Luckily, there are also beautiful stories from that part of the world, at least in Lebanon. Let me share one please to end on a joyful note. If I already told you that story, I am happy to share it with the New Wark Times readers: A couple of years ago, a very old church (old by the standards of Lebanon) was at risk of being demolished in one of the municipalities near Beirut. I do not know why precisely but something related to high costs of repair. People came together to save their church and its cemetery. They organized a trip to the Vatican (the church was not even Catholic, if I recall well :)). The Pope wrote a letter of support. The Municipality listened to its citizens. The last time I visited Beirut, I saw that beautiful church. Yes, it is still standing there. It is even being renovated now.

  6. L Trenholm says:

    So much for attracting wealthy seniors.
    What about the local seniors who have contributed one way or another to this lovely town we have here, who cannot afford the luxury price??
    Any plans in sight for the rest of us?

  7. Erna Duchemin says:

    I must say I am very concerned with what will happen with the traffic flow downtown. I was just speaking with a friend and she told me how underground parking lots can be a nightmare for seniors. With the poor lighting, small parking spots, and large posts it will not be easy to get in and out of. Also all those seniors will need to drive to get their groceries and it will be quite congested getting in and out of the existing parking lot and it will also make that intersection too congested.

  8. Percy Best says:

    I only wish that this was an announcement of a business moving to Sackville and it would employ 36 people. So sad to see our Town’s population continue to shrink by more than one percent each and every year.

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