Centre Wellington backs preliminary studies needed to develop 376 acres in south Fergus

·3 min read

CENTRE WELLINGTON – Centre Wellington committee of the whole has approved a recommendation to commence a detailed study of a large piece of land in south Fergus.

The area comprises around 152 hectares (376 acres) on both sides of Highway 6 that will look at environmental, engineering, heritage, land use planning and all other items necessary for a master environmental servicing and secondary plan.

A report by Brett Salmon, managing director of planning and development, says this land could accommodate approximately 1,400 housing units and 1,300 jobs.

He also mentioned the current supply of land to develop is limited with a majority of new housing in Fergus in the foreseeable future going up in northwest Fergus at the Storybrook subdivision.

Five landowners were represented by Dave Aston of MHCP Planning at Monday’s committee of the whole meeting.

“At the end of the day, there will be a servicing plan that will combine all the environmental considerations and a land use plan that will be a component of the secondary plan that will provide direction on specific land use designation, location of parks, location of trails and any other special requirements that are necessary for the development of the lands,” Aston said.

Aston said this study is a necessary step based on the Township Official Plan and the landowner consultant team will work with the township in completing it.

Salmon told the committee the study will be fully funded through development charges that are reimbursed to the landowners.

Aston said the final study should be completed and forwarded to council in spring of 2022.

Councillor Bob Foster asked if the environmental assessment considers the potential for secondary or additional residential units that could come forward from new houses.

He then asked if there was a list of stakeholders from the landowners as he wanted councillors to avoid any conflicts of interest.

“We have five different companies, sets of shareholders, directors, owners, officers ... how could I know if I have a conflict of interest?” Foster asked. “I simply do not know who these folks are.”

Salmon said he was unsure how to answer that and conflicts would be up for individual councillors to determine if they have one.

Councillor Neil Dunsmore asked when subdivisions may start being built.

Salmon said that was hard to answer but in theory it was possible to see applications come in after this plan was completed in 2022.

Councillor Ian MacRae said he saw this as an opportunity to tackle the issues of farmland loss and urban sprawl.

“When I look at this large parcel of land, would this be an opportunity to start thinking differently?” MacRae said. “Instead of single family dwellings, start thinking about going (building) up rather than out.”

He said he hoped they would look at a more walkable community with ground floor commercial with housing above and more density to be more effective with utilities.

Salmon said the growth target density is set a bit higher in this area than other places.

The recommendation to enter into the agreement with the landowners passed 5-2 with Foster and councillor Stephen Kitras abstaining from voting.

Keegan Kozolanka, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, GuelphToday.com