by Cecilia Naismith
Rick and Shawn Rondeau had a draft plan approved for 1,700 units for their 107.3-hectare parcel of land in the Cobourg East area in 2009, Dan Leaming told Cobourg council at Monday's committee-of-the-whole meeting.
Then they decided to step back to explore new options - “different ideas of environmental preservation, workability, lifestyle housing, a complete community,” Leaming said.
“We went back to the drawing board.”
Their new concept for the land, known as Villages of Central Park, was put before council on behalf of the Rondeaus by The Planning Partnership representatives Leaming and Rick Merrill.
The development will be located at the Brook Road North-Elgin Street East area, and its guiding vision will support the principles of complete commuity, public health, age-in-place and environmental responsibility.
The mix of housing will range from starter homes to spacious family homes to retirement and senior housing, constructed in sustainable healthy designs.
The configuration will support active transportation - “code for 'use your legs,'” Leaming remarked.
Parks and open spaces will knit the community closer, with a trail system for nature lovers that will be easy to get to.
The streetscape will have such amenities as a healthy tree canopy, and commercial uses are planned to enhance the life of the community (and be walkable as well).
Where the terrain is hilly, the streets and structures will conform to its contours, Leaming said, and fully 25% of the land is natural-heritage. Current formulae require four hectares of open space for a parcel this size, and this development has 7.5 hectares.
“An elementary-school site has been requested and is right in the middle of the community – it's easy to walk to it,” he said.
“:Probably one of the most important elements of this community is the mixed-use centre on the north side of Elgin.”
Its utility goes beyond the shopping and townhouses, he said. There will be an urban square as an open-space feature. And they have had discussions with the UOIT and other colleges, as well as providers of long-term care, to make it a community focal point.
Leaming offered a table with some numbers. The low-density single detached, semi-detached and townhouse residences should provide perhaps 650 to 950 units. The medium- and high-density, mixed-use and seniors residences add a similar number to the total. The population density should work out to 41 to 50 persons per hectare, This exceeds the 35 suggested under current standards.
As a bonus, jobs should result from the business park, elementary school, place of worship and mixed-use-centre businesses – perhaps 250 to 300 eventually.
Implementation is planned in six phases, going roughly clockwise around the lands.
“The owner is looking forward to the opportunity of many years of bringing forward plans and ideas, and he would like to get going as soon as possible,” Leaming said.
“I want to say thank-you to the owners for stepping back for a refresh,” Councillor Debra McCarthy said.
“This will be a model community.”
“I like the word 'refresh,' - it represents a significant refresh,” Mayor Gil Brocanier agreed.
“Overall, in my opinion, the 2018 version is a marked improvement over the 2009 draft plan,” director of planning Glenn McGlashon added.
“That they utilized the existing topography under the current plan is very important.
“It's certainly not going to be built overnight. It will be a long-term methodical and steady process.”
McGlashon estimated 200 to 250 units will be constructed per phase, with each phase taking three to five years. Commercial development is recommended to come along even more gradually, so as to accommodate what the market will bear (especially larger businesses like groceries and pharmacies).
And a certain percentage of the units are mandated to be affordable, he added.
Only a couple members of the audience had comments in opposition, but these were a general expression of uncertainty of how life may change in their own neighbourhoods as a result of the development.
A motion was put on the floor to endorse the comments of the Planning Department, acknowledge the motion of support from the Planning and Sustainability Advisory Committee, and authorize preparation of the necessary amendments to the town's Official Plan and zoning bylaw, as well as revisions to the approved plan of subdivision from 2009 – but Deputy Mayor John Henderson wanted an addendum.
The town currently adheres to a six-storey height limit, and he wanted to keep that in force in the Central Park Villages. McGlashon pointed out the Cobourg East Secondary Plan does allow up to eight storeys, but Henderson wanted to make this an option that would require some kind of explanation or business plan or other substantiation. Council voted approval of the motion with Henderson's addition.