The shovels are due to hit the ground next spring as part of a 10-year project to build eight townhouses and nine apartment buildings in an area described as “the countryside within the city”.

But the project in the southwest corner of Fredericton has faced opposition from neighbors who fear the development will make Serenity Lane unsafe to walk on and create a decade of traffic problems during the construction period.

“We understand that Fredericton needs rental housing, like most cities in Canada, and we’re all for it,” said Red Maple Court resident Rob Horton, who departs from Serenity Lane.

“But we’d like to see this development done in a way that gives us a safe neighborhood, and we don’t think that’s going to happen,” Horton said.

“We see a lot of big lorries going up and down the street and we have 20 children who live on this street who use Serenity Lane as they walk – they walk their dogs, they ride their bikes, and we are very concerned about their safety as well as our safety as adults.”

WATCH | Apartment project raises concern in quiet neighborhood

Residents are concerned as a 17-building project is about to open in Fredericton

Gorham Real Estate will begin work on a 582-unit apartment complex on Serenity Lane that is expected to take 10 years to complete, and some residents are worried about the impact on their neighborhood.

In June, Fredericton councilors agreed to rezone 10 hectares of land and grant height variances to allow Gorham Real Estate to construct the buildings at 150-198 Serenity Lane.

They signed it following recommendations from city staff as well as members of the city’s planning advisory committee, but not before receiving more than 10 letters of objection from residents of Red Maple Court, including Horton. .

The project is now ready to go with initial site preparation scheduled for this fall, said Alex Gorham, a partner at Gorham Real Estate.

He said three 12-unit townhouse developments will be built along Serenity Lane near the intersection with Red Maple Court, along with a 60-unit apartment building set back from the road.

Alex Gorham, a partner at Gorham Real Estate, said about 60 of the 582 units will be dedicated to affordable housing through the use of the provincial rent supplement program. (Zoom/CTF)

Another 13 buildings will be constructed over the remainder of the 10-year project schedule, in addition to a football pitch in the middle of the complex.

“We’re really excited,” Gorham said.

“This is an opportunity for us to build more than just a building, but a community where people can live, enjoy the amenities we will provide, and all in a very convenient location.”

Gorham said no construction will be carried out within 30 meters of a wetland on the property and no environmental permit is required before work begins.

Need more housing

Fredericton has struggled with its rental housing supply in recent years, with the latest figures pegging the vacancy rate at around 1.8%.

Advocates and consultants also identified a particular need for affordable housing, which Gorham said would be met.

At least 10% of all units will be reserved for the province’s rent supplement program, which could see rental costs of up to 60 units subsidized, he said.

Gorham Real Estate is constructing a series of 6-storey L-shaped apartment buildings as part of its scheme along Serenity Lane. (Submitted by Alex Gorham)

Horton said he understands the need for affordable housing, but thinks the area should be reserved for other types of housing that match those already on Red Maple Court.

“It’s a beautiful property and it should be developed,” he said.

“We were hoping that it would be developed more in the sense of what is on our street, that there would be several courtyards and streets that would have single family dwellings, maybe garden houses and keep the beauty of what is here now.”

Accessibility questions

Horton also questioned why Gorham’s proposal was approved, while another proposal to build 19 apartments on the second floor of a commercial building on Acorn Street was rejected.

This plan was ultimately rejected by council after staff warned that the area lacked sidewalks and access to amenities like grocery stores.

Described as “the countryside within the city”, Serenity Lane currently has no sidewalks or bus stops. (Pat Richard/CBC)

In June, before councilors gave final approval to the project on Serenity Lane, some wondered how residents would be able to get around without a car, given that the street currently has no pavement or bus stop.

“I actually had the opportunity to come out and talk with the residents of Serenity Lane,” Coun said. Bruce Grandi.

“It’s, you know, it’s like the countryside in the city,” he said, adding that he thought a multi-use trail would be a needed addition.

Com. Jocelyn Pike also expressed concern about the poor accessibility of the area.

“There are no sidewalks, there are no trails, the bus is located quite far away,” Pike said. “So it’s really going to be years before I think they have a realistic active transportation system.”

City engineer Dylan Gamble said at the time that he and transit staff would look into those concerns and how the transit system could be changed to accommodate the development.