To prepare for the growth that’s coming or instead to set the pace: Southgate council faces the futre

·3 min read

Several members of council on Jun. 2 were asking whether the township should let developers’ desire to build here drive township decisions and spending on infrastructure. (See related article – What was said.)

The staff projects 200 new houses a year as a stable pattern into the future – and calls that conservative. Those houses would be mostly in Dundalk, located on Hwy. 10 and within commuting distance of the GTA.

“We’re in this development storm,” CAO Dave Milliner explained. Southgate is a very attractive place, within one-hour of cities, and at a lower price point.

“We’re being requested by the private sector – we have these developers coming to us.”

He said Shakir Rehmatullah of Flato told him recently that “all 300 they have in the hopper are sold.” Mr. Milliner said that if growth slows, that may drive house prices up.

JOBS FOR PEOPLE

Coun. Rice said that council had heard about jobs coming but haven’t seen it yet.

At that point, Mayor Woodbury made a prediction: “I can fairly confidently say in two months you’ll have your answer on the jobs.”

Mr. Milliner said all interest is not from those building housing; there are industrial/commercial inquiries as well.

The CAO said that he might compare to residential growth to someone in their twenties – “at 200 houses a year, a nice-sized growth,” he said that “we’re in the infancy of seeing what’s going to happen in commercial industrial.”

EXPANDING BOUNDARY

Another way the growth study will shape Dundalk’s future is that there is a proposal to expand the borders of the town “settlement area.” That requires an amendment to the County Plan.

If the growth projections are low, that may not happen. Mr. Milliner’s report said that expansion is needed for more commercial and industrial as well as residential lands.

Planner Clint Stredwick said there will be a large portion of the land added that will be devoted to employment lands.

He said that right now, there’s a four percent unemployment rate in the region, which makes it hard for business to find workers.

PRESENT RESIDENTS

Coun. Michael Sherson said that council should make sure the people living throughout Southgate now have the services they need – road repairs and storm drains.

Coun. Martin Shipston said that commercial and industrial are needed “so there’s more jobs for the people that are here now.”

Coun. Shipston agreed with Coun. Sherson that “we have to look after what we have now.”

He said that while growth is good, perhaps Dundalk should look at apartments, and building up rather than out.

Staff’s five-year forecast of population showed Flato building 250 rental apartment units on Ida Street within the five-year window, although that application has not been presented yet.

POPULATION TO SHARE COSTS

When there are more houses, that means more people to share the water and wastewater costs, Mr. Milliner said, and development charges support services related to growth.

Coun. Sherson said he hadn’t seen a downward trend in costs.

Coun. Jim Frew said that he saw a need for a rainwater study in the future as with less grass and more built-up area, the rainwater can’t percolate, leading to problems in rare storm events.

MORE CONVERSATION

“Have we had that good conversation as a community?”, the Deputy-Mayor asked at one point during the wide-ranging discussion.

Mayor John Woodbury said that a time should be scheduled to have a good look at the long-range issues.

But on that day, he said, council needed to address how staff should respond to the growth projections of the county consultant.

Council received the report and approved staff continuing discussions with Hemson and the county.

M.T. Fernandes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Dundalk Herald

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