Only ten members of the public participated in the virtual meeting hosted on behalf of the Towerhill North developer by members of Innovative Planning Solutions (IPS) and other advisors. The event was an unusual gesture on behalf of the developer to hear the community’s concerns and suggestions in the early stages of the planning process when the costs of making changes are lower.
The meeting opened with a presentation by IPS President, Darren Vella, who outlined the features of the new subdivision plans including the number and nature of residential units proposed, the changes to land use and Official Plan designations that would be required and other components of the plan, including a designated 5.5 acre block for a new elementary school.
Mr. Vella touched on the water servicing capacity, indicating that earlier studies had confirmed sufficient quantity and quality of water to meet the needs of the residential units and the school. He indicated that the sewage would be gravity fed into the Towerhill South pipe network and on to the existing sewage plant. Other infrastructure requirements to be provided by the developer are twelve new municipal roads, a realigned water course with a walking trail beside it and a new, permanent storm water management pond in the northwest corner of the project.
The meeting was turned over to Vanessa Simpson of Dillon Consulting who walked the audience through the variety of environmental studies that were conducted to understand and mitigate the impact of the development on the local landscape. Of particular interest was the realignment of a watercourse which will be diverted around the subdivision. The environmental study determined that the water in the tributary in question was standing water, creating barriers to flow and fish movement. The study concluded that the realignment of this tributary would provide ecological and hydrological benefit by allowing water to flow downstream, and the proposed buffers would enhance its habitat and corridor linkage functions.
After half an hour, the meeting was opened to questions from the public. Millbrook resident R. Jackson was first in line and posed questions on a variety of aspects of the proposal. He suggested that no agreement was currently in place with the school board to build a new school on the designated site, which was confirmed. He also expressed an interest in having the new homes built with a design that was more compatible with the historic style of many homes in the village. He suggested that parking allocations for the three multi-unit buildings intended to house seniors was excessive and instead the space could accommodate more housing. The consultant suggested that the parking areas could be considered “placeholders” which could be used for future construction of affordable housing units. Parkland allocation was also discussed. The developer provided 10 acres where the new Community Centre is located, making a large portion of its mandated parkland contribution in advance. The trail running along the diverted watercourse and a small parkette will complete their parkland requirements. While there have been delays in completing the park in the first phase, the audience was assured they would ultimately be complete as the developer provides a financial guarantee to fund them.
Another member of the audience asked how the new development would impact the water table. The engineers from Val Dor Engineering participating in the meeting seemed somewhat surprised by the question and simply responded that there was no impact. The Water and Wastewater plant built in 2016 was designed to accommodate the volume of users contemplated in this subdivision so these advisors were not involved in the original capacity assessment which concluded that water supply was sufficient.
The project completion date cannot be estimated at this stage as the project remains subject to regulatory approvals and will also be influenced by market conditions.
The project is currently under agency review and the public will be invited to comment at mandatory Public Meeting in the coming months. For full details on the proposal, visit www.ptbocounty.ca and search for Plan of Subdivision 15T-18002. KG