Council moves ahead with Merrickville Grove Subdivision

The draft plan of subdivision for the proposed Merrickville Grove development was presented to council last week, causing a lot of discussion around the table. Park View’s proposed plan of subdivision includes fewer bungalow town homes and more multiple-storey town homes than originally planned, as well as a 3-storey, 15-unit apartment building. The subdivision now has 99 doors in total, compared to the 98 presented in Park View Homes’ original plan. It was suggested at the meeting that Park View Homes removed a few bungalows, because the Municipality would not allow them to build on the unopened road allowances within the property.

Planner Brian Whitehead of Jp2g presented the draft plan of subdivision to council with suggested conditions for them to approve. He also addressed several resident concerns that were brought up throughout the public consultation process. These included the placement of the parkland in the subdivision, the use of the Herbert St. road allowance for a walking path, lack of affordable housing, and concerns about the efficacy of the traffic impact study.

Some of the concerns raised by the public were echoed by council members, including the lack of affordable housing in the subdivision, the possible impact of traffic in the Village, and the overall look and feel of the proposed development. When it comes to affordable housing, Park View said that they are implementing measures to make the homes as affordable as possible, and that town homes are inherently cheaper than single detached dwellings. In the Municipality’s new Official Plan, which is under review, it states that the Municipality is looking for at least 25% affordable housing in new residential developments. However, since it has not yet been finalized, Park View’s plan adheres to the current Official Plan’s stipulations. “This subdivision has been reviewed in accordance with the plan that existed at the time that it was filed,” Brian said.

Deputy Mayor Michael Cameron was particularly concerned about the fact that the subdivision seems to have evolved into a high-density development, when it was suggested that it be a medium-density build at the outset, to align with the look and feel of the historic Village. “I don’t know how we migrated from a medium-density to a high-density and all townhomes,” he said.

He is also concerned about the traffic being funneled out to St. Lawrence Street from the subdivision, and doesn’t believe that the traffic study, which was done on a Monday from 7:30am-8:30am and 4:30pm-5:30pm, truly reflects the number of cars that are present regularly along the Village’s main thoroughfare. “Ninety-five per cent of businesses are closed on a Monday,” he said. “Most of the commuter traffic is out earlier and comes back a little later.”

Deputy Mayor Cameron would like to see the traffic from Merrickville Grove be directed out on to Read St. through Alice St. or Wallace St., which sees less traffic, rather than St. Lawrence. The problem with this is that it would mean Park View would have to build another road, on top of what they have already committed to developing, which includes the parkland, roads, water and sewer for the subdivision. Councillor Bob Foster also pointed out that those who live on Alice or Wallace probably wouldn’t be happy with having a new main road along their property. “I don’t think it’s the responsibility of the builder to build roads for us,” Councillor Foster said. “I think once we have our tax base expanded, we will play catch up as we usually do.”

Councillor Timothy Molloy echoed some of Deputy Mayor Cameron’s concerns, stating that the original plan for the subdivision was much more spacious than the one they were looking at last week. He doesn’t think that Park View should have the right to increase the density of the subdivision just to increase their profit. “My only point is that I don’t think we have to sacrifice our standards for them to make money,” he said. “They don’t have to maximize their profits on our backs, and I do think they have condensed the density to a point where it’s not amiable to the rest of the Village.”

Mayor Doug Struthers reminded council that this site plan, and the conditions laid out by Jp2g, are the culmination of many months of negotiations, and that council was made aware of all the changes along the way. “I just remind you of the process we collectively went through, and the decisions and directions we gave through our consultant planner to Park View,” he said. “It’s all what we agreed we wanted to see brought forward.”

Deputy Mayor Cameron still does not believe that the site plan reflects the wishes of council or the public. “I completely understand Park View’s want to maximize the build and maximize the profit, but I’m not here fighting for Park View, I’m here fighting for the constituent,” he said. “We should be trying to do due diligence to see a picture on that easel that is more reflective to what council had asked for in the beginning, and what the public has asked for all along.”

Councillor Don Halpenny said he believes they should be moving forward with the project, despite the objection from other council members. “Peo- ple are going to have to pay a heck of a lot more taxes if we don’t go ahead with something like this,” he said. “There may be some problems, but it’s still going to be good for the whole municipality.”

When it came down to a vote, the motion was passed to approve the draft site plan with the outlined conditions prepared by Jp2g. Deputy Mayor Cameron was the only member of council to vote against the motion. The draft site plan will now be sent to the County for their review and approval.

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