North Grenville Council adopted a bylaw at the last meeting to help address capacity allocation for new developments wanting to hook up to the Municipality’s Water Pollution Control Plant (WPCP).
The WPCP is currently operating at 68.4% of its average flow capacity, with another 25.3% of its capacity already committed to development which is currently underway or approved. Due to provincial regulation, the Municipality has had to come up with a bylaw to regulate how the rest of the capacity will be dolled out, before the planned expansion can be completed which will allow further development in the urban core.
Over the past few months, municipal staff have been consulting with the development community and other stakeholders to come up with a system to evaluate new development that intends to hook up to the water treatment system. Although the process was slowed due to COVID-19, staff was still able to bring a draft bylaw with an evaluation structure to council at the meeting of August 18 for their consideration.
According to the bylaw, priority will be given to projects where no new offsite municipal infrastructure is required; industrial, commercial, and institutional projects that will provide employment opportunities for local residents; affordable housing; intensification or in-fill projects in the downtown core; projects that are further advanced in the development approval process; a development that includes the provision of public facilities (ex. public park, trail or pathway); and developers who have made a prior investment in offsite public infrastructure improvements.
All new builds wanting to hook up to the WPCP system must go through an application process, to be evaluated at the end of each quarter. This policy does not apply to additions, renovations, or existing buildings, or in-fill residential projects containing two or less additional residential dwelling units.
Councillor John Barclay said at the meeting that he would like to see in-fill lots in the downtown core given even more priority in the evaluation process, by offering even larger developments an exemption from the policy. “I question whether we could draw the line a little further down,” he said.
CAO Gary Dyke said at the meeting that, while Councillor Barclay’s point is well taken, they do have to draw the line somewhere in terms of offering exemptions for new builds hooking up to the system. Director of Public Works, Karen Dunlop, agreed that, with anything over the three units allowed in the bylaw, there would be a possible effect on the WPCP. “We’re also building the backbone within the organization and the community, whereby we will do what we can through other means to facilitate the type of in-fill that Councillor Barclay is talking about,” CAO Dyke said. Councillor Barclay seemed happy to hear that staff was keeping infill properties top of mind. “It’s a priority for us, and we have to find some way to incentivize that development,” he said.
Mayor Peckford also commented on the priority being given to affordable housing. In the bylaw as presented, some priority was being given to developments with between zero and 20% affordable housing. She said that, as council has placed a focus on affordable housing in the Municipality, she would like to see priority being given to projects that have plans to include at least 10% affordable housing in their developments. “I’m looking for a threshold that is more ambitious,” she said.
At council’s direction, the bylaw was amended to give top priority to developments with 25% or more affordable housing, and some priority to developments with 10%-24% affordable housing.
“I think this bylaw will bring some assurance and predictability to builders and developers, big and small,” Mayor Peckford said.