Many concerns raised over proposed subdivision north of the Saugeen River

It was a lengthy three-hour Planning Meeting that raised many concerns centred primarily on one application – a proposed residential subdivision north of the Saugeen River (north Southampton) in Saugeen Township at Copway Street and Ottawa Avenue.

     Copway St. and Ottawa Ave.

The Saugeen Shores Planning Committee meeting was held on Monday, January 16th and was open to the public for comment.

The County planner, Coreena Smith, pointed out however, that public meetings are, in fact, no longer required under the new provincial Planning Act, but feedback from the community and Planning Committee would be considered in the report and recommendations that will be finalized by the County before coming back to Council.

She also stated that the final approval decision for the subdivision rests with the County.

According to Smith, the County has received more than 30 written comments from the public that raised several concerns about the proposed development such as: Sewer servicing and existing odours; Stormwater Management; Traffic and site access; Pedestrian movement and parkland; Natural heritage protection; Tree Retention and Protection; Species at Risk; Infrastructure costs and more.

The proposed subdivision is a 3.87 hectare section of land owned by Miramichi Shores Ltd., which is an amalgamation of Keith Snyder Construction and Tom Clancy Builders.  If the land had been 4.0 hectares, it would be considered a significant woodland and any development would have been an issue under the County Official Plan.

The subdivision will consist of: 19 single detached dwelling lots; 4 semi-detached dwelling lots; one storm management block; one woodland/wetland block; 2 reserve blocks and one new municipal road connected from Copway Street.

According to planning consultant Ron Davidson to the applicant, Tom Clancy proposes to retain half of the lots for his own building company while others will be sold.

The property boundaries run along Bruce Road 13, also known locally as Turner Street or the Sauble road, open onto Copway Street and along Cameron Street at the rear of the property.

                                        Rear view from Cameron Street

According to the County Transportation Department, no new entrances on to the Sauble Road will be allowed and, therefore, all traffic from the proposed subdivision will enter and exit via Ottawa Street, despite that the entrance for the new subdivision is only a ‘short jaunt’ to  Bruce Rd. 13.  Without egress to Bruce Rd. 13, those in the new development would be required to use Ottawa Street to access it and, with 27 families possible with two vehicles each, it would create some 50 plus more vehicles using the Ottawa Street exit.

Councillor Cheryl Grace asked the Planner (Smith), the reasoning for the decision of no direct access to Bruce Rd. 13.

Smith explained that the County considers Bruce Rd. 13 an ‘arterial road’ and that, according to the County and local Official Plans, it is considered for more intense traffic and long distance travel and, therefore, new entrances are discouraged.  Therefore, access is considered through ‘lower access’ shared roads which are in the current subdivision. “The intent is to limit new entrances on to the County Road,” said Smith.

Grace said that there are concerns that traffic would then be increased within the existing subdivision by the new development and wanted to know if a traffic study had been completed.  Smith said that a traffic assessment submission was not required due to the number of lots in the new development.  “The Transportation Staff reviewed the proposal and had flagged no concerns with the proposed road ‘set-up’.”

Later in the meeting, Deputy Mayor Diane Huber also raised the issue of traffic and the fact there were only two entrances/exits to the existing subdivision – Ottawa St. at Bruce Rd. 13 and Tyendenaga St. at Hwy. 21.  “If something takes place to close one of the entrances, there would only be one remaining for all the traffic in the area.  This has nothing to do with volume, it has to do with the ability to get vehicles in there.  if one of those entry ways is blocked and there’s an emergency, there is no other way in there and it would mean going all the way around to the other.  I’m not convinced a traffic study should be written off because ‘we don’t need it’ and Bruce Rd. 13 should be providing better situations as we start to add more places.  With 19 single dwellings and four semi-detached, you are pushing a lot of traffic a lot further away.”

Sewage odour has also been an on-going concern for many residents.  Colin Saunders of the Town staff said that an engineering firm has been brought in to find a solution and that “… we know from the past when there is low flow and hydrogen sulphite build-up, it can cause a severe odour problem at times.  The engineering firm will look into this further.  We will try to determine the problem, the solution and will notify the public through Town Communications.”

Deputy Mayor Huber wanted to know, that when the sewer system was installed and given that the Southampton waste water plant will be upgraded, if the capacity numbers reflect the proposed density as engineering of the waste water plant goes forward with completion expected in 2025.  Saunders also said that the entire area, both sides of County Rd. 13, will be considered when it comes to the odour problem.

Vice-deputy Mayor Mike Myatt also agreed that the odour is a serious problem and the Mayor said that it will be addressed and that any odour situation is not acceptable.

Tree retention, protection and removal was also raised as it appears that many trees have, in fact, been cut.  According to Davidson, the trees were removed for equipment that had access the property to take ‘samples’. He also said that the woodland/wetland area that comprises 1.75 hectares of the total land is what is known as ‘unevaluated wetland’ and will not be disturbed and may be turned over to the town or an alternate conservation organization.

                                    View of wetland forest


          The entrance to the proposed development where trees have been removed

The concerns raised were many throughout the meeting, both by Committee members and those of the public who requested to speak.

To listen to the entire Public Meeting – CLICK HERE
[Public questions begin at 1:10:45]

Under the Official Plan, in new developments there is a target of 30 per cent as medium or high-density housing but, the proposed development consists of single dwellings and semi-detached units, neither of which is considered medium or high density. Therefore, the target met for the proposed development is zero.

Vice-deputy Mayor Myatt said when he looks at the County and local Official Plans  requirement for 30 per cent, he said that, “We are not meeting that requirement at all! I still believe there is some room for secondary dwelling suites there. There has to be some room.”

Mayor Luke Charbonneau concurred with Committee members and the Deputy Mayor, who said that, “Whatever we can do to keep open houses for applications, we have to do it!”

He agreed saying, “It is a positive thing to hear from members of the public and I hope we continue to find ways to do that.”

He also agreed with the Vice-deputy Mayor.  “When it comes to the 30 per cent target for new developments to be medium or high density and, if we don’t meet the medium or high density and allow subdivisions to proceed where the number is zero and we keep doing that, then we don’t even come close to the target.  Secondary suites are fine but they are low density and so are the semi-detached that are proposed.  I’m not saying you want to build an apartment building here but we could get some medium density and, not only could, but should get some duplexes and triplexes or something in here.  We have Intensification Guidelines showing how that can be done and that would fit right in. I will not vote for this unless it comes back with medium density.  We cannot say we are serious about the housing crisis and approve subdivision after subdivision with zero medium or high density. That’s my bottom line.”