Pending approval by the RM of Ritchot, residents of Île-des-Chênes may soon see the rise of a new residential development to the south of the community.
The area proposed for the first phase of development includes 71 acres of a 161-acre parcel of land. According to concept plans drawn up by Landmark Planning & Development Inc. (LP&DI), this phase would include a good cross-section of single-family, two-family, and multi-family homes.
Details related to the final concept plan were presented at public meetings held on May 30 and June 1. Approximately 70 people attended the meetings either virtually or in-person.
Apart from finalizing a few more details, the next steps for LP&DI will be to submit a development application to the RM of Ritchot on behalf of the developer, Terracon Development Ltd. To approve the plan as it stands now, council would need to rezone the area from General Residential 8 so that the developer could include multi-family units and vary the lot sizes.
“The objective of the plan is to have different forms of housing so that all kinds of people from the community don’t have to move out to get the kinds of housing they want,” says Donovan Toews of LP&DI. “Île-des-Chênes can accommodate all different walks of life.”
As for commercial development in phase one, LP&DI planners haven’t allocated any space for it. It may be up for consideration in phase two, but for now they chose to be mindful of the commercial spaces that already exist in the community.
Listening to Public Feedback
Between February and June, LP&DI made it their mandate to involve local residents in the process. An initial meeting was held earlier this year with the immediate stakeholders, those whose properties abutted the proposed development or were within its sightline.
A follow-up meeting in April grew to include any residents who may be affected by construction disruptions and by additional vehicular traffic on their roadways.
Resident feedback gleaned from both meetings helped the planning team to develop and finalize a design that they feel comes as close as possible to addressing most of the concerns they heard.
“Generally, input doesn’t result in us going away, in the case of people who are not happy about a particular project,” Toews says. “But we do want to make sure that there’s communication and we’ve heard everything and considered everything.”
Steven Petznik has owned property on the south side of Rosybloom Lane in Île-des-Chênes for 13 years. His backyard faces the land proposed for phase one development. Petznik is worried about drainage, as well as the amount of setback between his home and the new ones being planned.
“The way our homes [on Rosybloom] are built and how low the grade is compared to how high up our homes are, anyone with any sort of yard space currently either deals with a drastic slope or has to build a retaining wall,” Petznik says.
According to Toews, Terracon Development is required to thoughtfully engineer the land for drainage so that neighbouring properties will not be negatively impacted. One way they will do this is by creating retention ponds which also serve as aesthetic features in the new neighbourhoods.
“If you see lakes in subdivisions these days, it’s because they are required,” Toews says. “You need to be able to retain stormwater in your [development] so that you can keep the pipe sizes smaller and more manageable and less costly to maintain.”
Proper grading of the land from the outset will direct excess runoff to the retention pond, and from there it will be pumped away to the Seine River Diversion.
To address property setbacks between the existing homes and newly built ones, LP&DI have designed the most northerly lots to be deeper than most. As well, the multi-family and two-family homes have been intentional placed away from the existing streets in order to maintain cohesiveness between old and new neighbourhoods.
Of course, the inevitability that this development will bring a significant jump to the local population poses concerns for people worried about increased traffic.
Shaylene Hawthorne is no exception. Her property is on Lamoureux Road just east of Île-des-Chênes.
“[Lamoureux] is already a busy road with local traffic, commuters, school buses, and lots of local construction company trucks,” Hawthorne says. “It’s like a back door to town. I can’t imagine what this will look like with a proposed entrance to the development near the Arnould and Lamoureux junction. Let alone the flow of traffic through the school zone once in town on Lamoureux.”
According to Brennan Johnson, a planner for this project, an in-depth analysis was done to determine increased traffic volumes on the major trunk roads leading to the development. He says it’s safe to predict an additional four vehicles per minute during the peak morning rush hour and five vehicles per minute during the peak evening rush hour.
Within the development, streets have been aligned to slow traffic down and prevent cut-through traffic by closing access from Dufault Drive. This would divert incoming traffic down Rosybloom Lane instead.
Petznik isn’t pleased with the decision, saying his street already feels traffic-heavy at times.
“The real advantage… is the traffic is discouraged from going up Dufault,” Toews says. “One of the objectives from a traffic point of view is to try and get the maximum number of vehicles to go towards Old 59 rather than going directly north.”
Counsellor Weighs In
As the municipality’s counsellor for Île-des-Chênes, Shane Pelletier has been watching the rollout through the eyes of a resident—and this will remain true until an actual application from the developers crosses his desk.
Still, he’s able to look pragmatically at some concerns that have been expressed and offer feedback based on experience.
As to unease about the potential for overcrowded schools, Pelletier says that both of the school divisions have been informed of the impending development. All decisions regarding timing on school expansions is strictly under the divisions’ jurisdictions and not something that the RM or a developer can fast-track.
Some residents have also questioned the validity of investing in a new development when some of the older sections of town are falling into disrepair. To this, Pelletier assures residents that all costs of this development will be borne by the developer and not the RM.
“Most of the concerns regarding the older part of Île-des-Chênes are usually directed at Dumaine Road, Main Street, and La Croix Street, all of which are owned and maintained by the province,” Pelletier says, adding that council has been appealing to the province to release control of those streets for some time now.
In terms of the buildout of the new development, Terracon has not been clear on whether they will choose to handle the construction themselves or sell sections to other builders for that purpose.
“Terracon plans to [set out] architectural controls and what those will do is ensure a cohesive design throughout the neighbourhood,” Johnson says. “So, whoever is building, whether it’s single-family or multi-family, it’ll be subject to those policies and guidelines.”
Brenda Sawatzky, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Niverville Citizen