Aurora United Church

Tom Mrakas

On the Public Planning meeting agenda last night, Council had before it, for the first time, the proposal for the new Aurora United Church. I think the community as a whole is very excited to see that the Church will be rebuilt, in its original location. Personally, I think this is a beautiful proposal that will enhance the downtown. However, that being said, there were a few concerns raised with regards to the application – most notably with regards to the height of a portion of the application that currently sits at 9 stories. As a consequence, Council has asked that this application come back to a future Public Planning meeting with a revised application that addresses the concerns that were raised.

As I stated last evening, while I think the proposal is wonderful, I have concerns with the height of the proposed retirement home. Our Town has a height restriction and I believe we should adhere to this standard when considering any application. I am hopeful that the issue of the height of the proposed retirement home can be addressed and I am looking forward to the revised application coming back to Council so that we can approve this application and begin the construction of the new Aurora United Church in the downtown core in its original location where it belongs. Here is what I said…

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17 Responses

  1. It seems obvious the 9 stories pays for the church. This is an unacceptable solution for rebuilding a church, making it contingent on building an oversized profit making business.

    1. Yes, it does help to rebuild, but it also meets a very real need of seniors housing in Aurora. And yes, I suppose seniors housing is a profit making business. But it is also very necessary. Consider, if AUC had sold the land and moved out to Leslie. That land would have been developed. I suspect condos and retail, big brick boxes like they have just north of Wellington. Would that have been better?

      1. Big brick boxes north of Wellington? I see none yet. Did you mean Bayview? Let’s say the designer had been honest in his renderings, showing the correct relationship to existing buildings, then I think the problem would be obvious. The renderings I have seen so far make the nine storied height look like five, and the five looks like 2 on the existing buildings. They will permanently shade the properties to the north in winter, the old church never did that. I am for more honesty in showing us the actual, scale drawings in two dimensions of front and side and back views with neighbouring buildings shown to scale. Then I would decide.

  2. Well, as they do in model home renderings in the newspapers, they have used forced perspective in the illustrations. The towering effect of nine stories will be overwhelming. In the graphics shown the southern church steeple seems to peak way above the nine stories, which you know is wrong. The people pictured cannot fit into the first floor. The scale of everything is altered to fool your eyes into believing none stories is not 100 feet over your head. They make look as if it is a mere one story over surrounding buildings, not 7 or 8 stories above it all. Look at the first rendering, the building at right behind the stop sign has five stories, yet it seems to intersect story number 7 on the 9 story piece. The existing 2 storey building at right behind the man with the knapsack is made to look like taller than the five stories and just short of the nine storey section. The people on the sidewalk would hit their heads on the ceiling of the first floor. The north steeple seems to meet the top of nine stories. Wrong. Everything closer to you is expanded up and everything in the background is shortened. They cheated your eyes. Ask them for a simple two dimensional front view to scale, then you will see the real story.

  3. I am disappointed that the building is going to be so modernized and not have the feeling of the historical one that was there. It is very big and with the condos it looks like it will take over the whole corner and make everything else look out of proportion. I think if it was brick instead of glass it would not be as in your face. I am glad they are rebuilding and thinking of the seniors. It is a shame that Seniors will be paying for Church and home….I think maybe things should go back and rethink it out again. This is my opinion but as a resident for almost 40 years, the Town will lose something and then you will have the too much mixture of new and old and it will look like someone just slapped together buildings for the sake of buildings…..

  4. Bob, the scale drawings are all a part of the presentation. If you would review those drawings you might find that your conclusions are slightly skewed to the negative. I am sure that there is no attempt to confuse or obfuscate the reality in the artists conceptions, which are available from all view points.
    The need to have a financially viable seniors development is an obvious part of this presentation and the church, the town and the developer are all trying to find the right balance between financial viability and mass/height. A seven story block building may be an alternative but it will not be as esthetically pleasing as a stepped back 8 or 9 story building. Please remember that the 28 meter/ 9 story standard was the bylaw up until December 2016. This plan has been in the works since early 2015 and needs some adjustments from the original. That being said the town needs this development and would be wise to compromise.

    1. Do you have a link to the scale drawings of front, side, back and plan views? I will remain on the fence until I see them. No builder creating an ad for a newspaper ad of their homes uses scale drawings. they always use forced perspective to enhance them.

      Love to see a link, thanks!

  5. Absolutely horrific concept! The housing section is so out of proportion to the heritage buildings around it, It also contravenes the height restrictions purposely put there by the Town and should be adhered to as it will set a precedent for future proposals. The church portion is overbearing as well,; there is no setback from the street and looks like people could spill right out onto the street, similar to the new condo just north of Wellington on YongeSt. East. Developers know full well that glass is much cheaper to build, but it will make it costlier to heat in winter( poor insulation factor) and air to cooling in summer. iFrankly, looks like a prison for elders fronted by a glass slipper of a church– a shocking concept that appals me!

    1. Heather; This is very strong language based on some misinformation and incomplete research on the project. The Town official plan requires buildings in this area to build right out to the lot line to assimilate in to the older buildings on Yonge. The church owns the land, not the town. Long and extensive debates have gone on over the past three years and the AUC congregation decided that they would not rebuild a 140 year old architectural concept. Change is more difficult for some than others but the decision to build a contemporary structure is correct for the generations to come who will be using this great new facility.

  6. Everyone seems to be fixated on the frontal appearances. Have you considered the footprint? This will stretch to Temperance St, and will demolish 2 houses on Tyler and 2 on Temperance, all of which are on the inventory list of potential heritage buildings. And, huge for me, there is next to no parking. Can you imagine Sunday morning service, staff in the nursing home, and the residents who have their own cars. 133 parking spaces for all of those people? take a look at mill and George St near Resthaven and you will have a better idea of the parking issue.

    1. Sandra; There are five houses to be demolished and only one has been assessed of historic interest. The historic parts of 16 Tyler will be removed and preserved. The other four houses are of no significance and are barely up to code as residential properties. All participants agree that the planned parking is more than sufficient for both buildings and the church parking far exceeds the old parking available for the previous church building.

      1. So let’s redevelop everything on Yonge contemporary under the same logic, but we’ll keep the historical elements in a storage yard somewhere. David, I assume you are with the church board or the design firm. Let’s get the scale drawings linked here and have a good discussion based on facts.

      2. So David, you must be working for the developer. I want to say do you think I’m stupid? Quite honestly, I don’t care if you tear down all the houses involved. Personally, I don’t think that any of them are historically significant. And, given that the church is a business of sorts as much as is the retirement home, it makes good business sense to create a joint venture and ensure a profit for both entities. My biggest concern continues to be the lack of significant parking. Please dont tell me that there is so much more parking available. Given that there were only about 10 to 12 parking spaces prior to the fire of which most were reserved for church staff, anything more than that looks great on paper. You are looking at 159 units for a RETIREMENT home, not an LTC. Let’s say half of the residents still want to keep a car, you need 80 spaces. After all, there is no shopping for them downtown, and there are a lot of older citizens with a large sense of entitlement. Then you need staff in the retirement home: nurses, admin, sales, cleaning, recreation, laundry, and kitchen. 7 days a week. And then you also need church staff. Now, let’s look at Sunday morning or wedding or funeral. These people will be parked both sides of Tyler, both sides of Mosley, both sides of Yonge Street, the library, and probably in the private parking lot located on Temperance St south of Tyler. And that is now. This is a 99 yr lease. What happens 10, 15, or 50 years from now. I won’t be around then, but given the pressures today on our infrastructure, and the unknowns of the future, I truly believe that your project should be meeting the needs of your project not just for now, but more importantly for the future. It is my opinion that you have been extremely shortsighted with regard to future needs of the citizens of Aurora.
        There is a condo coming to the old Collis site, there is redevelopment planned for across the road on the east side of Yonge St, there will probably be some changes to bus services coming. All of the developers need to start working together to provide to meet their own requirements without imposing on existing resources.

      3. Sandra and Bob are creating an argument based on win-lose , not win- win. This proposed development is good for Aurora, for Aurora United Church and for the developer.
        I am not a developer or have an interest in the church’s decision. I am not the enemy. I am an interested party who has volunteered on a group who have managed the houses for the church since the fire in 2014. Don’t make your arguments personal.
        Tom Mrakas and the Town have all of the requisite drawings. Do the research. Weddings and funerals will be no different than they always have been. Sunday mornings in Aurora are always a challenge to find parking but we survive. The Town is doing the planning so go to the Council meetings and get the facts as other citizens do.
        The church plan is for a community, now and 50 years from now.

  7. David, I applaud your efforts, and I like the concept. I admire the joint venture efforts and the design is the perfect combination of old and new. I have spent most of my life in Aurora and witnessed many changes to the church over the years.I grew up on Tyler St and would sit on the previous cement wall in front of the church with an ice cream cone on Sunday evenings watching the traffic return to the city. I have participated in many activities in this church over the years. My issue with ALL new building development in Aurora will remain that sufficient parking be provided for all users. In spite of council excitement, it is not the responsibility of the town to provide parking on municipal property for private ventures. Yours is a private venture, not municipally sponsored, and as a taxpayer it is not my responsibility to provide you with parking. I have made my point, and I hope that Mr Mrakas takes note of this concern.

  8. Wow, too bad Aurora didn’t establish Architectural control way back when. I have lived here for 25 years and we could have had a beautiful Town when the change started happening. So many strip malls, gas stations and coffee shops along Yonge Street. Want to see the Church back, but would like it even more with a design that fits the surroundings…. then again maybe it does??

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