Saugeen Shores Council Chambers was standing-room only as residents filled the room and overflowed out into the hallway. It was the March 18th Public Planning Meeting to consider two applications by developers for two separate locations in Southampton.
To make it clear, Bruce County is the authority to approve planned subdivisions while the Town of Saugeen Shores is the approving authority for zoning By-laws.
Although the two developments have similarities, they are both complex and deserve their own space. Therefore, we are going to look at each separately.
The first development proposed is at Grenville and Spence Streets, adjacent to the Halliwell Park soccer fields.
The land is zoned agricultural and Environmental Protection (EP).
The proposed development includes 15 lots for single detached dwellings, townhouses and a 24-unit apartment building, all to be serviced with a private road.
The detached dwellings will have a frontage of 15 metres or more, 30 townhomes with 10 metre frontage and the apartment building. Overall, there are 69 units proposed for a density of under 39 units per hectare.
The single detached would be zoned R2 with the remainder at R3x zoning. The required Storm Water Management would be the two Environmental Protected areas (EP).
The property is surrounded by residential homes and immediately to the west is the Southampton Care facility which is also anticipated to undergo a major expansion in the near future, which has already been approved by the municipality.
All municipal policies have to comply with the Provincial Policy Statement (PPS). According to planner, Tessa Fortier, the PPS says that development should be adjacent to existing development, should include a range of housing types and densities, there should be sufficient capacity for servicing and access and no impact on significant natural heritage features.
According to the Bruce County Official Plan (OP), the application is within the urban settlement community and the area has been identified to accommodate development. The County encourages developers to have 30 per cent as medium to high density housing and, in the case of the proposed development, medium density is at 78 per cent. Planning states that there should be 15 units per hectare and the proposed development far exceeds the standard at 29 units per gross hectare.
Under the municipal Official Plan (OP), there may be flexibility for zoning. Fortier went on to say that the only EP designation would be to be to the two Storm Water Management ponds. The OP also allows for a review of medium to high-density housing and the planner said that she will bring forward more detailed plans at a later date, although there had been no comments from the Saugeen Valley Conservation Authority (SVCA) or other agencies. She also said that the engineering component had said that the property storm water could be managed.
Planning Consultant, Ron Davidson, said that pre-consultation had been undertaken with the Town, the County and the SVCA. “The OP designates this area as mostly residential with EH on side so this is an area for development with a good mix of housing. The development is encouraged the the Provincial Policy Statement (PPS).
Two adjacent property owners also responded with concerns.
Resident April Nejedly spoke on behalf of residents who live in the area and who are opposed to the development. She has lived on Spence Street since 1977. “We are opposed to this development on the grounds of impact on the community, on properties and on the environment. It’s true that the area is zoned residential (R1) and EP/EH. The developer wants that changed to R2 and R3 and is not in keeping with the rest of neighbourhood which is single detached homes with variable lot sizes and house styles. The developer is proposing townhouses that are uniform and repetitive and an apartment building is not at all in keeping with the area.”
“People come to Port Elgin and Southampton to escape paved over sub-urbs and developments and come for that very unique environment of a smaller town, individuality and friendliness. This development proposes the start of what we see in Brampton, Mississuagua, Kitchener, Waterloo, Toronto … it will destroy the very uniqueness of our community,” added Nejedly.
Nejedly also said that this proposal is only one of many that is happening everywhere and that development should not be allowed to run rampant. “Development should be done in a measured and responsible manner. Density proposed for this development is a big issue. It impacts quality of life. This development is not keeping with the surrounding community.”
She also pointed out that there is a very high ground-water level in the area under consideration. “It is very wet and prone to flooding when it rains, snows and melts. When I look out my window at the proposed development site, it looks like a lake! Therefore, the developers will have to build the land up which will cause the water to flow down even more to the existing residential properties. I already have sump pump in my basement that runs all year round and, given the proposed development and water run-off it will be impossible to keep the water out of my home.”
Nejedly added that she had asked in the past if she could demolish her home and build another in its place and, according to her, the SVCA would not allow it. She also said that she was not allowed to improve her water protection as it might change the water direction in what was an EP zone. “All I wanted was to stop the water from draining into my house. This developer and planner have gone through all the right channels and now they can put houses, roads and ponds on land adjacent to where I could not improve my basement.”
She also drew attention to the Storm Water ponds saying that if they were lined with concrete, it would create standing water situations with possible insect breeding problems.
“Why should my quality of life be sacrificed for a development?” asked Nejedly.
According to the engineer of the developer, the Storm Water ponds would collect the internal water from the proposed development, store it with a view to slowing it down before entry into the town sewer system.
When it comes to sewage, she said that there were two reports and neither was adequate.One said there was not enough capacity given the expansion of the Southampton Care Centre. In another it referred to the Anglesia sewage station which has yet to be built. “I don’t even have a large enough pipe now to drain water in front of my home.
She also pointed out that, with paving of the area, it prevents plants and soil from absorbing the water. “Helliwell Park is part of an EP and that field is wet most of the year and building there has, in the past, not been advised and now the developer wants to build houses in the same area. Natural heritage may not have rare and protected species but it is an area where people walk with their children and pets are able to enjoy nature and we are afraid this will be lost.”
Although the residents realize that development seems to be “inevitable”, they do have some solutions:
- Do not change the density to the highest amount
- Keep the EP zone as is and build a buffer zone to keep them special
- Plant native trees and plants along the buffer zone to slow down the water and create shade
- Create a burm to block noise
- Create a drainage system to go around the EP on properties to avoid adding water to the lower level residences
Councilor Cheryl Grace had several questions such as why the zoning requested was for R2. According to the planner, there would only be single family dwellings.
She also asked about the engineering of the Storm Water ponds and how the boundaries would be adjusted. According to planner Fortier, the engineering study was done some years ago throughout Southampton for flooding and subsequently a storm sewer was built to Fairy Lake. “The Storm Water Management according to the SVCA, talked about requirements and that it does not recommend in-ground basements in the area and recommends surface drainage routes being retained by the site development. Is that something the developer is planning to do?”
As a member of the SVCA board, Grace said that the Hurricane Hazel Flood standard governs a lot of flood regulations. In one instance, here was a flow of 1800 cu. ft./sec. and the Hurricane Hazel Flood was 14,000 cu. ft./sec. So, given the Hurricane Hazel Flood standard in an already wet area that’s a concern with the SVCA as Spence St. to Grenville will be urbanized with curb and gutter. The culvert at Spence and Anglesia should be maintained to prevent the spill conditions at the intersection as well as the potential ponding during a Hurricane Hazel Flood event. While rationale is acceptable to SVCA staff, it’s unclear to who will bear the responsibility during these conditions. She pointed out that the report said that Saugeen Shores would be responsible for all conditions.
The Director of Public Works, Amanda Friese, said that the onus would be on the developer and that they would be responsible for the cost of curb and gutters on Spence Street.
Deputy Mayor Don Matheson also raised the issue of increased traffic given that there is a possibility of an addition 150 vehicles traveling the roadways in the area. “I would also like to see an access point moved to Spence Street.
Councilor John Rich encapsulated what was said. “When it comes to density, could this possibly be changed from an Apartment building to townhomes?”The planner said that the owners would consider it .
Mayor Luke Charbonneau pointed out that housing and infill shall be 30 per cent affordable and asked what the plans of the developer were.
“I would point out that affordability is extremely important in the municipality of Saugeen Shores, to the Council and this community and I would encourage you, the consultant as well as planner, to discuss that matter before you come back to us with some strong plans around affordable ability and look at the standards laid out by the county and others as to what that means. That’s a very important issue to me and to my colleagues.”