If the Region of Waterloo needs more land for a prospective expansion of the airport in Breslau, it’ll have to do the work itself, Woolwich councillors decided this week in wrapping up changes to the village’s boundaries.
A plan to remove almost six acres of land from the settlement area, effectively rendering it non-developable, and re-allocating the development potential elsewhere was the one change council opted for Tuesday night before approving the rationalization plan for Breslau.
That decision followed an appeal from the owner of the property at 5179 Fountain St. N., home to Nedlaw Roofing, which would have lost two acres of developable land. The region has its sights on that land and an adjoining property for future expansion of the Region of Waterloo International Airport, and the boundary changes would have in effect set the land aside.
But a planner representing the owner argued the move would take away options and devalue the land merely for the potential of an airport expansion the region has yet to make official.
Chris Pidgeon, president of GSP Group Inc., noted Transport Canada, which makes the rules around airport planning and supersedes local control, says there are many small airports with expansion plans, with most never coming to fruition. It only makes planning decision when there’s a formal expansion bid in the works.
The agency, said Pidgeon, has no objections to the property owner’s current plans.
He also objected to the township’s plan to take 5.75 acres of development space away from the rear of the Nedlaw and neighbouring Breadner Trailer site, and adding the 2.33 ha to Breadner’s north side.
“Something doesn’t seem right there,” said Pidgeon, who urged the township to reconsider the idea, putting the ball in the region’s court.
“Our dispute is with the region,” he said, noting there’s no reason for Woolwich to “do the region’s dirty work.”
In addition, the company is planning some 66,000 square feet of new building space.
Township planner Jeremy Vink told councillors the township has been torn on that particular land swap, noting either option would work.
Though dropping that one proposal, council did approve some 31 acres of changes within Breslau, allocating that much land as developable and removing a corresponding amount from elsewhere. The township can only shift lines, as for every acre brought into the fold, another has to be dropped somewhere. The whole exercise requires no net increases in the total size of settlement area.
The green-lit Breslau changes follow similar approvals for boundary rationalizations in Elmira and St. Jacobs. The latest plan will join the other two proposals under review by the region. While the township had been undertaking boundary exercises in its other settlement areas, new provincial guidelines took that option off the table, Vink explained.
The Ford government changed its predecessor’s Places to Grow legislation, overriding the regional official plan (ROP) and taking rural settlements out of the equation.
“The new legislation is now called A Place to Grow (P2G) and has created policies which allow for settlement boundary adjustments but under different criteria than what was permitted in the ROP,” Vink wrote in a report to council. “The most significant change is that the legislation no longer allows for the rationalization of rural settlements unless it is part of a municipal comprehensive review completed at the regional level. Since this rationalization process is being initiated at the local level, the Township is not able to rationalize the rural settlement boundaries. Where the policy at the regional or township level conflict with provincial policy, it is the P2G policy that applies.”
A review of the new boundaries for the three settlement areas is expected this fall. In a separate process, the region is reviewing its ROP, opening the door to potential expansions beyond the simple land swaps of the rationalization exercise, said Vink.