Plans for a 166-unit residential subdivision in Wellesley village were rolled out at a public meeting during Tuesday night’s township council session.
Located on Gerber Road, the proposed subdivision includes 66 single-detached units, 34 semi-detached and 66 townhouse units. The development also includes a park, linear park and stormwater management facility. It would include five roads and two walkways.
Strohvest Ontario Inc. needs a change to the zoning bylaw to proceed. The 25-acre site is currently used for agriculture.
Tim Van Hinte, director of development for the township who presented the report to council, suggested the project could expand the housing mix in the village.
“I think some of the things we’ve been talking about recently in previous council meetings, hearing every day, is that there’s a need for potentially more affordable, ‘missing middle’ housing, perhaps some seniors’ housing. I think there’s some opportunity here,” Van Hinte said.
While a preliminary engineering review did find some minor issues, Van Hinte indicated those could be worked out through the process.
“Our consultant didn’t identify any major issues…[there are] not any red flags at this point.”
In reviewing the plan, Mayor Joe Nowak asked if it would be possible to move the proposed walking trail to the other side of the subdivision.
“I think there’s a few concerns there. It is difficult to think about trails at the 30,000-foot level. And so as a planner, we try and look at trails and how they connect, how they work with the rest of the village. And so, in this case I think the western trail makes a lot more sense as it has a better kind of overall connection that we could make to different areas of township,” Van Hinte replied.
Wellesley resident Mark Whitmer, who said he was speaking on behalf of residents who live on a street next to the proposal, also expressed a desire for the trail to be moved.
“It’s not that we’re opposed to what was said. We would just like to state some changes. I feel the mix of it’s going to be hard enough to get used to new residents – for 20 years these people have been looking at green space and sunsets and now they’re going to be used to something else,” Whitmer said.
Moving the trail would better allow for new residents to meet those already living there, he added.
“I think it would really be nice if you had it on the east side where you take it down to where the new entrance is going to be off of Gerber then you can just walk down the sidewalks and pick up the trail to go up the backside to the community centre. I think it just makes more sense and that the feeling of people meeting and getting to know each other holds a lot of water,” Whitmer said.
Resident Alan Jones said he was worried about losing his privacy.
“Right now we have no houses behind our houses. We have privacy back there.…We know as of this year we have a sidewalk down the front of our properties. Now having a proposal of a sidewalk down the back of our properties, losing the privacy that we have right now in our backyards, we’re going to lose it to a point with houses being built behind there,” he said.
Jones said he was fine with the idea of houses being built, but he is worried about access via the trail.
“Anybody can walk down and stare in your backyard and stare in you back windows. There are people there with swimming pools. If they’re in their swimming pools, they can have people wandering down the walkway. I like the privacy in my backyard. And I’m going to lose that more with houses back there and I’ll lose even more with a walkway down the back there.”
Jones asked if it would be possible to have single-family homes behind the single family homes that are already there.
“Those people that are going to buy houses there, they’re going to buy them knowing that there’s a trail. We bought house knowing there was a field behind us, and we weren’t stupid enough to think that there’d never be houses. I don’t want to cause enemies, but I have some objections to a walkway down the back of my property,” he said.
Greg Romanick, senior planner for Stantec who presented on behalf of Strohvest, said the proposed plan provides “extensive explanation” about why they think that location is best for Wellesley.
“It’s premised on both the neighbourhood but it’s also taking a more macro view of the entire village of Wellesley. What I’ll say about our vision is that in time that linear strip running itself could in fact be enlarged, creating a better setting for such a trail and could be incorporated into a broader circle navigating a trail the might run around the entire village,” he said.
“It is a very important community asset in a lot of municipalities.”
Tuesday night’s meeting was an information session, with council making no decisions. Planning staff will review the application, consider input such as public concerns and report back at a later date.