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Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Wellesley to focus on west-side growth

Future growth in village part of township's latest boundary plan

Future growth in the Village of Wellesley will be to the west under a redrawing of the settlement boundaries approved last week by township council.

Years in the making, the so-called boundary rationalization process has the township looking at short- and long-term growth patterns, removing areas currently within the urban boundary and assigning it elsewhere.

The current iteration removes from the settlement area 10.36 hectares (25.6 acres) of land in the north part of the village in favour of assigning development potential on the west side.

The process 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 as part of the one-time procedure.

Under the direction of the Region of Waterloo, the exercise requires no net increases in the total size of settlement areas in the township.

For Wellesley village, the new boundaries would see new residential development on a parcel of land fronting on Gerber Road, west of Lawrence Street. The township sees that area as readily developable, with extending municipal services being easy to service.

There is plenty of capacity in the water and wastewater systems to accommodate development there, says planner Geoff VanderBaaren in his report to council. Latest figures from the Region of Waterloo indicate there’s enough water supply for an additional 6,024 people and enough capacity at the wastewater treatment plant for 869 persons.

“The increased land area to be included within the Village of Wellesley settlement area should not cause undue financial hardship on the public services. No additional expansion to the existing sewage treatment facility is required,” he wrote.

In the longer term, the township is looking at reallocating some 28 acres of land currently in the rural settlement areas of Bamberg, Crosshill, Linwood and St. Clements to the township urban area, namely Wellesley village.

The proposed changes were the subject of another round of discussions, the latest in the multi-year review, July 9.

Steve Wever, a planner with the GSP Group representing Greenwood Hill Drive property owner James Flynn, pushed for his client’s property to be included in the development mix.

“The key question for council tonight is: what is the right location for that boundary, recognizing you can only add 1.36 hectares to that boundary as part of this rationalization process? It’s a very limiting number, and hard to set a long-term boundary using that small number,” said Wever.

“But it is an important decision to make because that could be a decision that you and future councils would have to live with for a very long time under the regional official plan in terms of the ultimate limits of growth in Wellesley.”

Each property was reviewed to determine whether it should be included or removed from the urban area designation. A separate 4.54 hectare property along Greenwood Hill Road was removed, for instance, due to lands being primarily floodplain.

Debates about where to draw the line has been ongoing since early 2017. Council made a number of decisions on boundary rationalization back in May of 2018, but the process was put on hold pending a similar review in neighbouring Wilmot Township.

While the new boundaries have been widely discussed and many tweaks proposed, none of the changes has been formally approved at this point.

“We actually haven’t implemented anything at this point. So right now, the Linwood and St. Clements are exactly the same as what they were before,” said  VanderBaaren.

The issue was further complicated when Wilmot reached a resolution, the province issued amendments to the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe that are already in effect.

The provincial plan contains policies that significantly alter how Wellesley proceeds with the rationalization process. Both the region and township must be in compliance with these new policies, which states that municipalities can only adjust settlement area boundaries outside of a comprehensive municipal review under certain conditions.

The process remains ongoing.

Veronica Reiner
Veronica Reinerhttp://www.observerxtra.com
Veronica Reiner is a Reporter Photographer for The Observer.

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