They wrote letters and turned up en masse in council chambers.
A contingent of about 50 residents who live around Bonny Park showed up at City Hall Tuesday night, adamant about a back lane remaining closed to traffic in the face of a proposed development for Riverside Drive.
In the end, they got their wish.
When Kevin Nicol of Richlane Homes, the developer whose plan would see the lane reopened to vehicle traffic, jumped up to get to the microphone first, it was with good news for the neighbours.
“Because of the community concerns and strong feelings about this, I’m willing to remove the back lane opening and agree to only use Riverside,” Nicol told council, adding his main concern was that his clients could use the park.
Taking the lane out of the equation, which was devised in order to alleviate traffic issues, was deemed acceptable to the developer, and it wasn’t going to impact his plan to build nine or 10 two-storey homes about 2000 square feet each, with enhanced curb appeal.
“I totally understand the concern and am willing to look at other options with staff and planners to figure out another way,” Nicol said.
He described the future development as one with “high-end” homes, almost “Garrison” style.
But at least one area neighbour said she hoped that the developer conceding on the lane issue would mean he’ll build fewer than 10 homes on the two lots.
“It’s going to change everyone’s life,” said resident Kim Senko, who called Riverside Drive “a very quiet and decent” area.
She called Nicol’s lane concession “a smart move” and added her only request was that the developer increase the number of units “appropriately,” as opposed to “ramming it down a neighbourhood’s throat.”
Resident Craig McKie, who was instrumental in getting the metal barriers in place to close off the lane to traffic, was pleased with the way it was resolved.
“Most of my objections have now collapsed,” he said at the hearing. “Sometimes things just work out.”
He thanked Nicol for “raising the white flag and doing the sensible thing.”
Resident Lori Gilbert called the half-acre lots on Riverside “unique,” and “when would it stop?”
She said she was trying not to be hypocritical since she was in the development business as well but added that they needed to preserve some of the land.
Mayor Sharon Gaetz had praise for the neighbours who showed up and sent in letters of opposition.
“They really took ownership and said the lane closure was not working for them.”
Coun. Jason Lum remarked that the developer had built himself “some social licence in the neighbourhood” by showing that his company was one that listens to the concerns of the neighbourhood.
“Thanks for coming up and offering that concession,” he said.
Other concerns raised by residents included the number of trees that would be coming down, and the setbacks from the street.