By Mayor Nancy Peckford and Deputy Mayor Jim McManaman
Throughout the election, the speed at which North Grenville is growing, and the impact of that growth on the community was a dominant theme. Many candidates addressed it, and both the Deputy Mayor and I spoke to the negative impacts of some of that growth that we have witnessed since becoming residents of North Grenville.
Consequently, after being sworn in, I appointed Councillor Jim McManaman as Deputy Mayor and Liaison for Planning and Development, knowing full well that Council would need to tackle how to manage growth in ways that are sustainable for this community, and do not undermine our quality of life and small town feel.
At the same time, Council recognizes that many residents and business leaders have higher expectations of our evolving community. This article is intended to provide a brief overview of how things are shaping up six months into the job on a very complex file.
County Road 43
No doubt, County Road 43 remains a major preoccupation. Council has been eagerly awaiting a response to the joint application for ten million dollars submitted in partnership with the United Counties in late April. The province is required to provide a list of priority infrastructure projects to the federal Liberal government for final approval. In a heightened federal election period, Council is extremely hopeful that the CR 43 project is regarded very favourably and will get the green light imminently.
This is particularly important given preparations near County Road 43 off of River Road in the newly established Creek subdivision. The Creek subdivision is an Urbandale project which was approved by the previous municipal Council. When we assumed office in early December, Council did not have the authority to slow down this newest subdivision given the stage of existing agreements with the municipality. However, we know that this newest subdivision will add further pressure to traffic flow on CR 43, and it is critical that the Counties and municipality have the funding to expand and improve this major thoroughfare before the subdivision is complete.
Many have asked Council about the fate of the hotel that had been announced over a year ago. We have been similarly concerned. We have learned that the delay in building a hotel in the location identified (on Rosewater lands), across from the Kemptville Colonnade Retail Centre on CR 43, stems from an agreement that the United Counties of Leeds and Grenville entered into nearly a decade ago with the developer Colonnade Bridgeport.
The Counties agreed to have Colonnade Bridgeport build and finance the roundabout directly across from its development (at a cost of approximately $1 million), on the condition that future developers who would benefit from the roundabout would have to pay their proportional share directly to Colonnade Bridgeport. It appears that this additional financial requirement for any new commercial developer to pay their share for this infrastructure (a roundabout) is presenting some challenges. As Mayor and Deputy Mayor, we are frustrated that the original deal struck by the Counties in regards to a single roundabout appears to be a likely impediment.
Wastewater treatment plant capacity
After being sworn in, Council was briefed on a variety of subdivisions and housing developments that are already in various stages of approval. The municipality has also been approached by several developers about proposals for multi-residential rental units in Kemptville, specifically, that are in high demand by seniors, young families and those on fixed incomes – and of which North Grenville has a very limited supply.
This confluence of interest in building a diversity of housing mix in our community (i.e. rental complexes or more intensive residential developments) is good news, but would represent an exponential increase in the future number of residences to be built, whether they are single detached homes or apartment/condos. Kemptville’s wastewater treatment plant was built in 1993. It was well ahead of its time in terms of technological innovation and has been continuously upgraded.
With the addition of just a few multi-residential buildings, however, alongside the development that has previously been approved, our municipality will be approaching the maximum capacity of our current plant if all such development is to take place – as proposed. Consequently, in order to increase capacity, the municipality recently completed an Environmental Study Report which revealed that a $34 million investment is required over the next decade (potentially beginning in 2020) in order to significantly expand capacity at the plant.
This past week, Council members including the Deputy Mayor and I, met with developers and builders to outline some possible approaches to being selective and strategic about future growth so that we balance remaining and future plant capacity to ensure a balanced approach to commercial, industrial and residential development, including affordable housing options. Council intends to pass a bylaw in the coming months that would provide explicit guidance on how to prioritize new developments and allocate the remaining sewage capacity at the wastewater treatment plant.
Just a word on customer service. For new or existing businesses, as well as developers, contractors and residents seeking to build or renovate, interactions with the municipality’s building department are significant. To this end, concerted efforts have been made to improve service levels and create additional communication channels. Bi-weekly meetings are now held between the NG Home Builders Association and the municipality that the Deputy Mayor and/or I attend. A survey is now available for any builder, contractor or resident to complete online or at the counter about their customer service experience. Payment of building fees can now be processed at the building desk to avoid additional wait time.
With the urging of the Deputy Mayor, the Chief Building Officer recently held a first ever Building Code update session and will be holding these sessions every six months. While there is much more to tackle, we believe these steps represent important efforts in enhancing the relationship between our municipality and residents and business leaders. We expect more to come on all fronts in the coming months.