Town, Region, Conservation Authority and School Board Agree to Settlement at OMB for Bronte Green Application
Recently a settlement was reached on the old Saw-Whet lands between the developer and local governments and Boards. I share your frustration and disappointment in the decision. The entire OMB process is set up to push local Councils into settling, ultimately providing the developer with the permissions to build they are looking for.
While the overall footprint may be smaller then originally planned, the higher number of units will cause even more chaos on our transportation corridors making everyday life for existing residents North and South of the site even more difficult.
The process leading to the Town decision, I found to be troubling and at the Regional level just last week, Oakville Councillor Elgar, Burlington Councillor Meed Ward, Chair Gary Carr and myself were the only Councillors to vote against the settlement. While Understanding that even more green space could have been lost if left for the OMB to decide, the lack of any consideration to our already congested Bronte road networks was the last straw for myself.
Councils have made their decisions and I respect the positions taken by both the Region and Town on this matter and will continue to ensure any and all protections within the scope of our powers are adhered to as this project moves forward. I will also continue to fight for the expansion of local transportation infrastructure at the west end of Oakville.
To view the recorded vote at Regional Council please see below. As well, under the video, I am posted some FAQs generated by the Town of Oakville should you find them of use.
Region and Town Councillor Ward 1 - Oakville
Bronte Green Settlement FAQs
November 18, 2017
1. Why does Oakville have to keep growing?
Oakville is recognized as a great community in which to live and raise a family and this attracts new residents who want to live in our town. We also have current residents who might need a different type of housing as they start their own family, or as they age in the community. This creates demand for new housing.
2. Don’t we have enough growth already?
The Province of Ontario forecasts growth through its Growth Plan which allocates a certain number of people to our region. This forecasted growth is neither a minimum nor a cap on growth. Oakville, as part of Halton Region, is required to accommodate a certain portion of the growth. How this growth will occur in Oakville is described in our Livable Oakville Official Plan.
The province requires the majority of this growth to be accommodated in areas that are already serviced as part of the town’s urban area.
3. How come the town can’t just say “no” to new development?
All property owners have a right to make applications for amendments to the town’s official plan and zoning by-laws and to file appeals to the Ontario Municipal Board if the town doesn’t approve these applications. The Ontario Municipal Board has an obligation to consider these applications on their merits.
The Ontario Municipal Board has issued previous decisions that confirm that the issue of whether or not the town has already planned to meet the Growth Plan is not determinative of the issue of whether lands that have been identified for potential future development can be developed.
4. Aren’t the Saw-whet lands part of the Parkway Belt? Shouldn’t development be prohibited on them?
No, they are no longer part of the Parkway Belt. They were originally part of the provincial Parkway Belt West when this property was owned by the Province of Ontario. After the province sold the land to private interests, they applied to have it removed from the Parkway Belt. Once the province approved this removal, the land was then designated as urban lands by the Halton Region Official Plan. As a result, the town’s Livable Oakville Official Plan identified the need to comprehensively study these lands to determine appropriate future land uses and policies.
5. Was this land identified for future growth in Livable Oakville?
Yes. While not identified as a “growth area”, the lands in the vicinity of the QEW and Bronte Road on the north side were one of two areas in the town identified for potential future development that needed to be comprehensively studied to determine future land uses and policies.
Section 26.6.2 of the town’s Livable Oakville Official Plan notes that these comprehensive studies for potential future development areas should address servicing and infrastructure needs, including a detailed transportation needs analysis, phasing of servicing and development, and appropriate lands uses. Approvals for individual site development applications in these areas shall be considered premature until the necessary comprehensive studies are completed.
The town opposed the Bronte Green application as it was premature. With the ongoing work that has occurred since May, the comprehensive studies required by Livable Oakville have now been completed allowing for the settlement of the development applications contemplated by these policies.
6. I thought this Ontario Municipal Board hearing was to stop Bronte Green from developing this land?
The town certainly wanted to stop Bronte Green from implementing its original plan of application because they hadn’t completed the necessary studies and the town felt that it was a flawed plan that did not do enough to protect environmentally-sensitive lands.
The town was opposed to development taking place before comprehensive land use studies could be completed that would ensure environmentally-sensitive lands were protected.
On April 8, 2016, Town council passed the following resolution: “That counsel be instructed to attend the OMB proceedings to oppose the applications as being premature and not in the public interest using an evidentiary approach”. This position was based on serious concerns with the draft plan and the underlying technical studies and was supported by a team of 15 witnesses representing a variety of scientific and planning disciplines.
7. So why has the town changed its position?
The town’s position has not changed on what was required for this site. The applicant, Bronte Green, did extensive work to complete the required technical studies and made substantive changes to its plan to meet the town’s requirements. Bronte Green made concessions on every issue before the Board. As a result of the settlement, Bronte Green will:
· Dedicate a significant parcel of land to enhance the woodlands
· Create a high value habitat for species including snapping turtles.
· Increase the size of the buffer around the natural features from 10 m to 30 m in order to better protect the natural heritage system from the impacts of development and to reduce flood and erosion impacts.
· Construct storm water management systems which insure that there will be no additional risk of downstream flooding.
· Remove the vehicular bridge previously proposed over the 14 mile creek which posed a threat to endangered species of fish.
· Secure a permanent natural heritage linkage to Bronte Creek Provincial Park.
· Reserve an elementary school site adjacent to a centrally located neighbourhood park.
8. Did the town consult with the public before agreeing to the settlement?
Public input was received through written and oral participant statements, discussions with participants and past public input in town planning studies was considered and influenced the settlement. Many of the key changes to the settlement plan respond to concerns raised by members of the public.
The actual settlement process was subject to legal rules that prevent the disclosure of information shared until and unless all relevant parties agree. These rules promote the open sharing of information and discussion of options among the parties but do prevent the sharing of information with the public.
The OMB is holding two days of hearings next week to receive participant feedback on the settlement. The OMB will consider this input in making its decision on the settlement.
9. How much of Bronte Green’s land is going to be developed?
Bronte Green’s property consists of 54.79 ha of land. Of that land:
Will be developed for residential units, commercial uses and roads.
Will be added to the Natural Heritage System and dedicated to the Town. This includes the natural area originally proposed by Bronte Green and “Enhancement Areas” achieved through the settlement process.
Will be dedicated to the town as Parks (2.5 ha), Open Space (.72 ha), Walkways (.20), and additional open space encumbered by existing pipeline (.14) or as a stormwater management pond (which in addition to the pond, serves an open space function).
Is reserved for a school block for a period of seven years.
At the end of the day, 17.46 ha (31.8%) (exclusive of roads) will come into public ownership, the majority of which consists of natural heritage areas that have been saved from development.
10. How many units are in the settlement plan? How does this compare to the original plan? Why are there more units in the plan?
The settlement plan increased the overall number of units from 875 to 1181 units by providing more townhouses and low-rise apartment units adjacent to Bronte Road. Given the direct access to the Bronte GO, it made sense to encourage a transit-friendly approach for the site and this type of housing will be very attractive to young adults, new families and seniors who want to remain in Oakville.
Overall we have reduced the footprint of the development to be more environmentally-sensitive by protecting natural habitat, and providing more open space to address groundwater concerns. Lower density housing has been located adjacent to the valley lands and set back with a 30 metre buffer to also support the natural heritage system.
11. How will Bronte Road be able to cope with the extra traffic coming from this development? Was a traffic study completed?
Traffic impact studies were part of the settlement discussions. Since Bronte Road is a regional road, Halton Region looked at the impact on both the current and future capacity of Bronte Road. While there is current capacity for the approved development, the low-rise apartment building at the corner of Upper Middle Road and Bronte Road (180+ units) will not be built until the expansion of Bronte Road is complete.
According to the Region’s capital forecast, Bronte Road is scheduled for expansion to six lanes in 2025.
12. Will a school be provided?
A site for an elementary school has been reserved in the plan. The school board has seven years after the registration of the plan to buy the site. If the site is not purchased, it can be developed for low density residential uses.
13. What does this settlement mean for the potential development of the Glen Abbey Golf Course?
These two situations are completely different. Unlike Saw-Whet Golf Course, Glen Abbey Golf Course has never been identified in the town’s Official Plan as having future growth potential. Glen Abbey plays a different role in the cultural, economic and urban structure of the community and this role must be further understood before any proposed changes can be considered. The town is now before the OMB defending a challenge to the validity of the Interim Control By-law it put in place to complete studies that will inform where these lands might fit into the town’s overall urban structure.
14. What does this settlement mean for the future of Deerfield Golf Course
Again these two situations are completely different. Deerfield Golf Course remains within the Parkway Belt. It is owned by the Province of Ontario and currently leased to a golf operator. It is not subject to any applications at this time.
15. Can I be added as a participant and speak to the Board ?