Centre Wellington to consider allowing more homes in highway commercial zones

·2 min read

CENTRE WELLINGTON - Council is set to consider three new initiatives aimed at creating more attainable housing units in the township at its next meeting.

The recommendation to pursue the items comes from the township’s Healthy Growth Advisory Committee, which discussed them in detail at its Wednesday meeting.

Senior planner Mariana Iglesias told the meeting through talks at various subcommittees, staff have zeroed in on a couple of policy matters related to attainable housing they’d like to move forward “sooner rather than later.”

Before investing further time in effort in investigating the potential changes, staff want to make sure council is on board, Iglesias explained.

First would be updated regulations for areas zoned as “highway commercial” to make it easier for developers to establish attainable housing there. Iglesias explained these zones are located along most of the township’s major roadways like Highway 6 and County Road 7.

Iglesias called this item “low hanging fruit” that could be accomplished relatively fast.

“It would probably have the greatest amount of impact right now, based on what we heard from developers,” she said. “In the highway commercial areas we heard things about height and about parking that we think we could address rather quickly.”

The second item, the creation of a community planning permit system “would require a lot of resources up front,” Iglesias.

The system would replace the current planning application system in a specified area, for example the downtown. The form Centre Wellington’s potential community planning permit system would take has not been determined yet, but Iglesias explained what it could be used to accomplish.

“What we would want to do is marry the goals that we have, especially with attainable housing, but also how to maintain the look and feel of certain areas,” Iglesias said.

Once the system is in place, “it moves rather seamlessly,” providing certainty to both developers and residents, Iglesias said.

Community consultation is done ahead of time so it's clear from the beginning what's expected of developers. Developers in turn are assured they will receive necessary permits if they meet those criteria, Iglesias explained.

Finally, the committee agreed to ask council to formally endorse work that is already underway to add financial incentives aimed at increasing the supply of attainable housing to the county and township community improvement plans.

Council will discuss the Healthy Growth Advisory Committee's recommendations at its committee of the whole meeting on Oct. 18. Councillors will decide at that point if they want the township to move forward with any or all of the initiatives.

Alison Sandstrom, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, GuelphToday.com

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