Wellesley to overhaul its rules for development in the township


New provincial regulations and the prospect of some new growth have prompted Wellesley to revise its development standards for the first time since 1997.

The review approved by council last week will see the township update its bylaws and rules governing new construction. It could also have an impact on issues such as on-street parking as accessibility becomes even trendier with Queen’s Park.

Changes to the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) and a shift in the township’s focus prompted the review, completed by the departments of public works, planning and building, along with an outside engineering consultant. The idea was to update the township’s guidelines for developers and designers looking to build subdivisions, severances, infill lots, condominiums, residential, commercial and industrial properties.

Kevin Beggs, director of public works with the township, presented the changes to the development standards document to council on Apr. 11. He told councillors there were quite a few new additions to the document, highlighting accessibility and compliance with the provincial AODA.

“Going forward, this is new to the township. We are going to be requesting that we have sidewalks on both sides of our streets in new developments,” he said. “We have to follow the accessibility act, which now includes things like the width of a sidewalk – 1.5 metres – that is a big one.”

The accessibility act also prompts municipalities in Ontario to add directional lines to intersections and detectable plates to be put at intersections. Safety was also a factor in some of the other changes to the township’s development standards.

“This is new, too, to the Township of Wellesley. We are going to have parking on one side of the street only. I think the reason we are pushing that one is because we find when people park on both sides of the street, we can’t maintain a six-metre emergency route,” shared Beggs. “We find, too, our neighbouring municipalities are doing the same thing.”

New traffic calming measures are also outlined in Wellesley’s development standards, although they have not been put into widespread practice in the township.

“We thought that we should identify it because it seems like it should be something that the township should be looking at in the future with new development,” said Beggs, adding that there are new standards for utilities in new developments, as well. “We make sure all our utilities in new development are underground. We have a cross-section in our roads that basically say where we want these utilities: hydro, communications, cable, gas, fire hydrants and street lighting.”

Stormwater management ponds, of which the township has nine, are also included in this year’s and the last development standards document, but now, Beggs says they will be following through with the guidelines set out by the township.

“Every storm water management pond should have a sign stating what the pond is and how it works for the public to see. It is to make the public aware that everything that goes down the catch basins, it will end up in that pond and it will affect the quality of water,” he said. “We are working on the signs to be put up, hopefully in 2017.”

Coun. Carl Smit questioned why the development standards hadn’t been updated for two decades.

“We thought it was time to do it. I think we have gotten by in the past with the way it is, but we started this in 2016 and thought, ‘you know what, it is something that we should do.’ Going forward, we are going to say yearly, or as trends change,” said Beggs, mentioning there was no set schedule for the review process.

The review cost the township $3,200 in engineering fees.

Liz Bevan
Liz Bevan is a reporter and photographer for The Observer. She has written for community newspapers in western Canada and has been published in national newspapers and magazines.