Tom Krizsan’s vision for a mixed-use community on the east side of Breslau will have to wait at least until Waterloo Region completes its new official plan, Woolwich council decided this week.
The president of Guelph-based Thomasfield Homes is looking to develop some 410 acres of land with a mix of residential, commercial and industrial uses. The region and township have so far stuck with the established long-range plan of allowing only industrial uses there, however.
In commenting on the region’s official plan (ROP), Krizsan has argued that his proposed mixed land-use plan is in keeping with the province’s Places to Grow initiative and the region’s own smart-growth strategy.
But while his proposal got a sympathetic ear from council at his appearance there in February, planning staff remained convinced that employment development would be the best bet for the land, most of which is located immediately east of the current residential area, including a 290-acre portion known as the Seagram lands.
At that meeting, Coun. Mark Bauman suggested the township undertake a detailed secondary plan for Breslau, determining the type, location and pace of future growth for the village as a whole.
But Tuesday night, councillors chose to defer deliberating on the matter at least until the ROP is completed and approved, a process still months away.
“Until we know how our official plan is going to be updated we can’t really undertake the Breslau secondary plan with a lot of confidence,” said Dan Kennaley, Woolwich’s director of engineering and planning.
Under the region’s current plans, no new residential land is earmarked for designation until after 2029, so much so that even if Krizsan was successful in converting his parcel from employment to residential he’d have to wait until 2029 to develop it, he explained.
Pending the ROP, dealing with Krizsan’s petition at this point in time would be premature, echoed John Scarfone, manager of planning.
“Until you get a firm grasp of what some of those decisions are, you may be spinning your wheels in trying to implement those in your own plan because if you’re assuming a certain density level you’re trying to achieve in certain settlements and that density level changes that could change everything,” he said.
Bauman further questioned the value of conducting a secondary review when only “one developer is pushing the envelope.”
“If the province approves the official plan the way it is now and it remains as commercial property for him to come back and change it the province would have to second-guess themselves, so a secondary plan study may be an effort in futility almost,” he said.
“I see it sort of as a case of the tail wagging the dog; in this case, with the dog being the region and the province and he can see what he can do with them, but ultimately the province and the region and Woolwich Township will have the say on how Breslau’s developed.”
For the meantime, township staff suggested that undertaking a comprehensive review evaluating Krizsan’s own application under the planning act would require much less work than undertaking a secondary plan for all of Breslau – a plan that, aside from the Thomasfield lands, might not be needed.