Not happy about a dense, sprawling development next to their small, established subdivision, a group of Breslau residents are particularly adamant about keeping traffic out of their neighbourhood.
Plans to open up a decades-old road allowance into the Elroy Acres section of the village drew universal condemnation Tuesday night as Woolwich council hosted a public meeting to discuss a large development proposed for land surrounding the area.
Three companies are looking to transform about 160 acres of land into a subdivision featuring more than 1,000 residences, a combination of single-family homes, semis, townhouses and apartment buildings. To do that, they’ll need official plan and zoning changes approved by the township.
The land covers a large swath on the east side of the village south of the railway tracks and running west of Fountain Street as a curves back toward Woolwich Street. Much of the development is slated for an area just east of the Elroy Acres subdivision.
In an online council session September 1, residents speaking via videoconferencing or by recorded message expressed concerns about traffic and densities, questioning the project’s compatibility. Neighbours were universally opposed to a road plan that would funnel more traffic through the area. They were especially concerned with a plan that shows a road – labelled as Scarlett Street or street F – connecting Kennedy Road to the new development.
“This would become terribly dangerous, said Kennedy Road resident Sean Hiller of the proposed route, calling it an “unnecessary connection.
Residents of 84 of the subdivision’s 87 homes signed a petition opposing the connector road, citing safety concerns, traffic issues and the lack of a buffer between “the different housing densities and neighbourhoods.”
In response, John Rose of Breslau Properties – the principal landowner, joined in the project by 2727995 Ontario Inc. and 805232 Ontario Limited – said the neighbours’ concerns would be taken into consideration in reworking the plans.
“The traffic concerns don’t fall on deaf ears,” said Rose. “I certainly appreciate everybody’s concerns about how traffic will impact their homes and lives, and we’re certainly going to work with the township, understanding that everybody won’t always get what they want, but we’re going to try … to satisfy the concerns in regards to traffic.
“Our ambitions are not to become a problem to the existing residents, but to in fact to help solve some of the existing issues, while understanding that people don’t generally like development all the time,” he added, noting they’d like to make the community better.
Residents’ concerns about traffic and the road network extend to plans to extend Dolman Street into the north end of the new development, as well as Ottawa Street at the south end. In the first stage, Ottawa Street is to be a two-lane road, with plans to expand it to four lanes when a bridge allows the route to connect to the Kitchener stretch of that road.
While welcoming news Ottawa Street would be an early part of the development, Menno Street resident Matt VanderMeer noted some of the proposed routes for the new roadway would impinge on some of the homes already there.
“When you have an Ottawa Street four-lane road that comes up and takes out backyards, that doesn’t sit well with residents,” he said, adding the existing roads in the Elroy Acres subdivision aren’t equipped to handle more traffic.
VanderMeer also questioned the claims of urban development making the area more walkable given the lack of commercial and service amenities.
“Urban density means more than just more houses and more people. It also means jobs, stores, restaurants, pubs, walkability – where can I walk to in Breslau?” he asked, noting the idea rings hollow when the only destination is a park rather than the likes of a grocery store or restaurants.
Tuesday night’s meeting was a public-input session, part of the early stages of the process. Councillors didn’t make any decisions.
With the input and at least one other virtual public meeting in the works for later in the month, the developers will be revising their plans before resubmitting them to the township.
“We will certainly take these comments from the residents very seriously,” said Paul Puopolo, a planner representing the applicants.