What has happened?

Examples (not a complete list) of improvements proposed by SGE+F include:

  1. More green space at the north end of the site a) to preserve water infiltration capacity for water protection and b) to provide recreational land (park, playground). The plan now includes a park and large storm water management pond in this area.
  2. Focus traffic capacity/flow to the east, south and west of the development (for commuters to GTA, Guelph and KW). The plan now has one major street (not two) and one private road from the development to South River Road.
  3. Design road patterns that a) are compatible with intended green space at the north end of the site and b) facilitate commuter traffic. The original grid layout has been replaced with curving roads that reflect these priorities.
  4. Ensure appropriate "transition" - built form and lot sizes that are compatible with homes "across the street" on South River Road and Gilkison. The plan now ensures appropriate lot widths and single family dwellings (not stacked townhouses as originally planned) facing these two streets with driveways in the rear.
  5. Include multi-story and multi-unit housing structures to a) help meet provincial density target (16 units per hectare) and b) preserve green space. The plan now includes two substantial "apartment blocks" - one at the south end of Haylock, the other at the south end of Youngblood.
  6. Preserve mature trees along Gilkison, the north-west corner of Youngblood and the north-west border of Haylock. The plan now requires that these trees be preserved. The original plan had no undertaking to preserve these trees. The woodlot at the north-west corner of Youngblood is protected by County policy.

What is next?

This is an important question - one our group needs to address more thoroughly. As the Municipality goes ahead in this process it has the following opportunities:

  1. Ensure neighbourhood features (park, woodlot, preserved trees and connection to the rail trail) are not lost in an overcrowding of the site. The settlement agreement (and LPAT decision) provides for up to 821 housing units. That may be too many. (Our group would consider this the #1 next opportunity).
  2. Ensure that lot designs, sidewalks and roads within the development provide adequate space for vehicles (possibly 1500) and safe servicing of the site.
  3. Ensure that built form (design, building materials etc.) is compatible with and/or complements adjacent neighbourhoods.

These features/improvements are achievable if Municipal staff and Council commit to them AND they put in place official policies that empower them accordingly. This means a update of the Official Plan to include provisions for this type of control over residential development. So far we have seen work on a number of plans or master plans (such as the the Growth Management Strategy, the Urban Forest plan, the Urban Design Guidelines, a Water Master plan, a Transportation plan etc.) that are not yet "official" (legally binding). They must be approved by Council (they are not) and then included in the Official Plan (they are not) before they can be used effectively with developers.