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Servicing only one of the limits on growth in Breslau

Facing a demand for growth in Breslau that far outstrips capacity, Woolwich eased the situation somewhat in a cross-border agreement with Kitchener approved last week.

The servicing deal adds another 240 units to the stock of available wastewater hookups in the village, where growth is still constrained by a Regional Official Plan mired in legal action.

The new contract expands on a 2003 agreement in which Woolwich gets 25 per cent of the wastewater capacity of the Victoria Street North pumping station in Kitchener.

While the extra capacity could be used for a spate of institutional and commercial projects slated for the area – an expansion at Breslau Public School and the Smart Centres big box development at Ebycrest Road, for instance – the real stumbling block to residential expansion is the overarching planning document that guides the Region of Waterloo. Under the Regional Official Policies Plan (ROPP), growth in Breslau was limited to 1,250 residential units and about 7.5 acres of commercial development. Those limits were scrapped in the new Regional Official Plan (ROP), but that document is tied up in challenges at the Ontario Municipal Board, meaning the old ROPP is still in force.

Currently, that leaves Woolwich with about 19 residential units and no more commercial land available for development, said director of engineering and planning Dan Kennaley.

Most of the 1,250 units were taken up by Thomasfield’s Hopewell Heights subdivision (493 units) and Empire Communities’ Riverland subdivision (495). Both developers have expansion plans that are on hold due to the current limitations.

Thomasfield Homes tried to bypass the delays brought on by the legal challenges of the new ROP – expected to be another year or two before resolution – by applying for an amendment to the existing ROPP, but that too was appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board by the same Kitchener developers unhappy with changes to the new regional plan.

“We’ve got our hands tied in all of this,” said Kennaley of the legal stalemate.

In the meantime, the new cross-border servicing agreement with Kitchener provides some flexibility on another area of constraint. But even that doesn’t come close to meeting demand.

“Certainly the demands are going to far outstrip the 240 in this amendment,” he said. “That’s not enough to service all of the demands listed so far.”

Once development limitations are lifted, there won’t be enough sewage capacity to provide for Thomasfield’s mixed-use residential/commercial/industrial proposal for hundreds of acres east of the village, Empire’s residential plans to the south, or projected industrial expansion near the airport, to name just some of the projects on the books.

Solving that problem will require more discussions with Kitchener and, ultimately, with Cambridge, as future servicing of the south end of Breslau could come from the township’s southern neighbour, said Kennaley. Cambridge has plans for industrial expansion on lands bordering Woolwich, but Breslau would be at the far end of the pipe, with servicing not likely before the 2031 timeline of the current Official Plan.

In the meantime, the township would like to see cross-border servicing agreements become a technical discussion rather than a political issue, as was the case, for example, with Waterloo when the Walmart-anchored big box development was built south of St. Jacobs.

For chief administrative officer David Brenneman, if growth is a regional issue then there should be an overarching policy when it comes to servicing. Discussions should simply be about how to provide services – water and sewage treatment – effectively, he said.

“That’s certainly something we’ve been pushing for,” agreed Kennaley.

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