Amherstburg condo residents say neighbouring hotel development poses safety concerns

People living in an Amherstburg condo are opposing the development of a neighbouring hotel, citing safety concerns.

The development would see the existing building on 256 Dalhousie Street torn down to make way for a multi-level boutique hotel.

On Tuesday, the property owners are expected to appeal to Amherstburg town council for a “set back” exemption which will allow for a brick wall to be built to the edge of the curb.

According to Don Parks, who owns a unit in neighbouring Salmoni Place Condominiums, that wall risks blocking residents’ view of oncoming traffic.

“Additionally, any car exiting the Salmoni building which will be 20 feet away from this wall, there’s no way until they get onto the road that they can see a car coming or the car will see them coming,” said Parks.

Area where a brick wall would be built, extending toward the curb. Neighbours are concerned the wall would block residents’ view of oncoming traffic. Pictured in Amherstburg, Ont. on Sunday, May 21, 2023. (Sanjay Maru/CTV News Windsor)

Earlier this month, a traffic study was conducted in the rear area of the building — where the wall would be built — to assess pedestrian safety.

The study found that there are very low traffic volumes behind the building.

However, Parks takes issue with the findings, saying the traffic study began on a Monday evening when most businesses were closed and continued into Tuesday and Wednesday when it was raining for most of those days.

But, he added, constructing a wall toward to the curb is just a minor concern related to this development.

The bigger issue is that the gap between the boutique hotel and his condo building would only be four feet, said Parks, making it more difficult for firefighters to enter that side of the building in the event of an emergency.

“If they put this hotel in, there is going to be one brick wall going seven stories high. There’s no openings. It’s just one solid wall. So there is no way to get in there,” he said.

“So now, the fire department is going to have to send in and put firefighters at risk to get to those bedrooms on the side.”

Existing gap between Salmoni Place Condominiums and neighbouring building. Pictured in Amherstburg, Ont. on Sunday, May 21, 2023. (Sanjay Maru/CTV News Windsor)

However, multiple town officials seemingly dispute this as a reason to shoot down the development.

“It is important to note that multi-unit buildings, as per the Ontario Building Code, do not have to provide fire department access to all four sides of the building, largely based on size and height,” reads an excerpt of a presentation that will be presented Tuesday to council by Amherstburg fire chief Bruce Montone and chief building official Angelo Avolio.

“The building in question is only required to have access to one side of the building, which that side is found on Dalhousie Street. Many of Amherstburg’s larger buildings only offer one to two sides for the fire department to utilize with entire sides of buildings inaccessible for rescue purposes.”

CTV News reached out to Amherstburg Mayor Michael Prue but did not hear back on Sunday.

Colleen and Richard Peddie are behind the development of the boutique hotel, with assistance from Windsor-based firm Architectural Design Associates.

“I want a hotel in Amherstburg. But we can not put people’s safety at risk,” said Parks.

Planned development of a boutique hotel in Amherstburg, Ont. (Source: Architectural Design Associates)