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Woolwich looks at redrawing its redrawn settlement boundaries

Those on the outside looking in may have earned a reprieve as Woolwich looks at redrawing the boundaries of Elmira and St. Jacobs.

Rather than voting on a plan that focuses on making more employment land available in the communities, councillors meeting Tuesday night sent planning staff off to do some tweaks that might make room for those landowners excluded from the mix.

The process, underway since 2012, is literally redrawing the map, deciding which pieces of land are brought inside the borders and which are cut loose to await a future decision on development potential. That means there are some property owners unhappy to be on the outside looking in, development plans for their land on hold until the maps are redrawn to their liking. For now, the township can only shift lines, as for every acre brought into the fold, another has to be dropped somewhere.

Under the direction of the Region of Waterloo, the exercise requires no net increases in the total size of settlement areas in the township. Some of the requests will have to go unfilled.

The township is looking to add more industrial land on the east side of Elmira, and to provide more room for expansion at the Home Hardware headquarters in St. Jacobs. That means taking land from elsewhere, removing it from the settlement boundaries, and allocating it somewhere else.

In Elmira, that includes taking land that’s unlikely to see development, such as the forested Victoria Glen or the golf course, and using it to provide more industrial land in the southeast part of town.

Seeing that, Ward 2 Coun. Mark Bauman suggested a similar approach in St. Jacobs, sending planners back to the drawing board.

That decision may mean landowners excluded from the boundary rationalization may have another chance.

Councillors seemed keen to support the bid of St. Jacobs’ Mike Gilles, who along with Richard Frede, wants to see part of their holdings adjacent to 118 Northside Dr. added to the settlement, pointing out the potential for a shared project with nearby Calvary United Church, which has talked about developing seniors’ housing.

With Home Hardware growing, there will be an increased demand for housing, Gilles told councillors, noting that developing his property would allow for shared services for the church project.

To do that, he needs Woolwich to include in the settlement boundary a two-acre parcel that connects the Northside Drive property with the back portion of the church lot, which fronts on Hawkesville Road.

“That makes sense to me,” said Bauman of the project, a sentiment that seemed to be shared by his colleagues.

They seemed less inclined to reverse course on another pitch for inclusion, however. As with a previous meeting in June, MHBC planner Pierre Chauvin asked the township to include at least some portion of his client’s land at 460 and 461 Arthur St. S., which he said could serve as an industrial gateway to the town, perhaps even as part of a long-discussed Elmira bypass route.

The township prefers an area just to the northeast, however, slotting in an area east of Arthur Street and south of South Field Drive for new industrial land. Likewise, the township plans to expand the countryside line – the line in the sand between urban and rural areas – to clear the way for future growth of the settlement area, including a future bypass route on the east side of town.

“We absolutely need some new employment land,” said Dan Kennaley, the township’s director engineering and planning.

The road in the new industrial area could form the start of what could become a bypass route, he added, noting the township is pushing the Region of Waterloo to include a route in the formation of its new transportation master plan.

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  1. You don’t think that this story should have included both my Delegation on this subject and multiple public Councillors discussion afterwards with the Township’s planner? Investigations continue east of Chemtura onto neighbouring farmland looking for and expecting to find Dioxins, DDT and more. Both the investigations and likely remediation will be adversely affected by rezoning to a lower clean up criteria as well as building a highway (Elmira By-Pass) over these lands. Several Councillors to their credit expressed concern and like myself wanted assurances that clean up will occur first and not be adversely affected by rezoning and proposed construction.

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