65 St John’s Sideroad

Last night Council held a Public planning meeting to discuss the application for 65 St John’s Sideroad.  Council heard from many members of the public both against and a few for the application. Following all discussions and presentations, Council deliberated and, in the end, voted. 5 – 1 to refuse the proposed development on the basis that it does not conform to the Town’s Official Plan, the  proposal does not align with the principles of good planning that are essential for the sustained growth and well-being of our community and due to an array of  environmental concerns, specifically related to the Mckenzie Marsh. #LeadershipThatGetsThingsDone

Here is what I said at the table…

“I read all the documentation provided and listened carefully to all arguments for and against this planning application during this meeting

Planning decisions have far reaching implications not just for our existing residents, but for future residents as well. Thus it is imperative that the decisions we make at this table be based on good planning principles so as to ensure that any development we approve serves to enhance our community through appropriate growth.

Every community in this country is facing the same crisis – a need for more housing. But the impacts and solutions of the housing crisis affect each community differently; it cannot be solved with a one sized fits all approach.

Our Official Plan is our made in Aurora solution to building more housing for current and future residents.  And we need to be sure that any  proposed development aligns with the values and vision we have for our community as outlined in that plan. And this proposal does none of that. Regrettably, the current proposal falls short on multiple fronts, from density, to emergency access design that could lead to future full access due to limitations on St Johns, traffic implications, cut and fill proposals, extensive grading to change the landscape, snow storage/salt mitigation issues, just a few of the many environmental concerns. And let’s not forget that access to the site is entirely predicated on purposely constructing an extensive road in a flood plain.  In my opinion, in no way can that be seen as Good Planning.

Do we need more housing yes, but it needs to be done in a responsible, appropriate way; one that we have carefully considered and planned for. One that utilizes the infrastructure already in place. Jamming as many housing units as possible onto any open space doesn’t achieve the sustainable growth our community needs and expects and it is clearly not the way to solve the housing problem; but it is the way to create whole slew of other problems.

We need to not only look to how the application impacts the municipality (is it a benefit or not)… But we need to also look at how this will benefit the future residents of this specific location as well. The Region has deemed this location unacceptable for a full turn access point, they have specifically said that a right in right out is the only  acceptable way to enter and exit the proposed development. Think about the real world implications of that requirement.  Say a resident from this new community wants to go to the grocery store (the superstore) just down the street on St Johns;  they will need to travel around the Town to get back home as there is no other access to their home other than St Johns and they can’t make a left. And to suggest that they make a Uturn in what is already a hectic area for traffic is unreasonable and obviously unsafe. This is another example of what cannot be considered Good Planning.

In my opinion, the current proposal fails to meet the necessary criteria for good planning, presenting an array of issues that cannot be easily addressed or resolved.  I Therefore, strongly recommend that our Council take decisive action tonight and reject this application outright. The basis for denial lies in the fundamental fact that this proposal does not align with the principles of good planning that are essential for the sustained growth and well-being of our community. “

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