Province green lights new development in Walkerton

BROCKTON – The Minister’s Zoning Order (MZO) for Brockton has come through.

A press release from the municipality stated, “The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing has approved new zoning for the East Ridge Business Park in Walkerton, permitting up to 500 new housing units and an expansion of Walkerton’s boundaries to accommodate future business and industrial growth.”

As stated in the press release, the municipality applied for a special MZO earlier this year, presenting a comprehensive plan to convert five vacant parcels of employment lands to residential uses, including townhouses, apartments, a residential care facility, and a proposed hospice, while also creating new employment lands north of the current park boundary.

Those lands, purchased from a local farm family, will provide opportunities for business and industry.

“I am very happy to see the MZO approved, and appreciate the provincial government’s attention to this matter, which will help increase our housing stock, and ultimately, the number of more affordable homes here,” said Brockton Mayor Chris Peabody in the press release. “This is good news for the entire community, and something our developers, employers, young families and seniors have been wanting for a long time. We are committed to responsible growth.”

Peabody noted in an interview Tuesday that the development shows only 14 single family homes; the rest are medium density, mostly rental. Four developers are involved in the project.

He said the development is located in desirable area.

“It will hook up to the trail system – Rotary Nature Park – and is next to the soccer complex and proposed recreation complex, making it a very attractive and livable place,” said Peabody.

The mayor made special mention of one item in the MZO area – the location for a future residential hospice.

“Now that this (the development in the business park area) is approved, I hope to move the hospice project along,” he said.

He’s scheduling a meeting with Ontario’s health minister, Sylvia Jones, at January’s Rural Ontario Municipal Association conference.

The press release provided some of the history of the development, stating the municipality started preparing its MZO application almost a year ago, following extensive consultation with the community, and support from local employers, developers, and agencies. Without this process, rezoning multiple parcels of land and expanding Walkerton’s urban boundary could have taken years, and been much more expensive, complex and taxing for all involved.

“We look forward to working with developers on the next stage of these projects and staff will ensure the review process is thorough but timely to continue to increase housing availability locally and prepare for future growth need,” said CAO Sonya Watson in the press release.

The Municipality of Brockton is excited for the opportunities the MZO will bring to the East Ridge Business Park, one of the fastest growing business parks in Bruce County. conference centre, a provincial training and research facility (the Walkerton Clean Water Centre), a restaurant, industrial suppliers, small manufacturers, service providers, professional offices and more. In addition, it’s only a short distance from downtown and all its amenities.

New industrial lots are being serviced to the north and east of the soccer park, while residential development is now permitted in the south-west area, adjacent to existing homes.

Brockton is investing more than $6 million in servicing the area with roads, water and sewer, hydro, gas, and high-speed internet. All available parcels have been sold or conditionally sold, with more expected to come onstream in early 2023.

Peabody made reference to certain blocks in place with the current planning process, and commended the province for “helping cut the red tape.”

For more information about the zoning order, visit Brockton.ca/MZO.

Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times