Traffic concerns raised regarding New To You development in Fergus

·2 min read

ELORA – The public meeting on a proposed residential development adjacent to the New to You store in Fergus turned out to be a multidimensional discussion Wednesday night.

Issues raised at the public meeting included traffic, parking, traffic lights, a playground, how children would get to school, an alternative driveway-entrance spot and the importance of New to You.

Reid's Heritage Homes and Baker Planning Group wants to build five buildings totalling 112 stacked townhomes on the property. A zoning bylaw amendment is needed to allow that.

The Groves Hospital Volunteer Association owns the property and operates New To You as a fundraiser for the hospital.

Selling the land at the back of the property will allow them to expand their offerings in the future.

“As you are likely familiar, there is the existing New to You store run by the volunteer association on the front portion of the site and the rear portion is currently vacant,” said planner Caroline Baker, speaking on behalf of the applicant.

Baker gave a presentation then answered many questions from council.

Current zoning allows for a building with commercial use on the ground with residential use above.

“When we move into the zoning bylaw, residential continues to be a permitted use,” Baker said. “However in the instance of the zoning bylaw, residential is only permitted above a commercial use. So it’s looking at a vertical integration of mixed use as opposed to horizontal.”

Local resident Lori Armstrong gave a passionate explanation on how, even though in her mind New To You is critically important, the traffic caused by the project would make the current traffic problems even worse.

“We aren’t opposed to the actual new development,” Armstrong said. “What we’re really quite concerned with, I live right across the street from the proposed entrance into this facility and at times, and there is another neighbour here, we can attest to the 93 extra vehicles or whatever, there’s times where we can’t get out of our driveways because the traffic is so backed up. So there is going to be traffic implications with this new development.”

Armstrong and councillor Stephen Kitras agreed that making left turns in the area is already a challenge. But if the construction of the units would go forward, left turns would become very awkward.

Kitras even stated that he believed the project would not work without the addition of traffic lights. He went on to say that although adding in the traffic lights would slow down this project, it would likely be necessary.

“I have to agree with the citizens’ concern about this. I turn and go on to Highway 6 from 19 every day and I think that even if you flip the commercial and had it north, you’ll need lights there,” Kitras said.

Council will make a decision on the matter will happen at a later date.

Jesse Gault, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, GuelphToday.com