Residents receive more information on likely development
BY VOICE STAFF
Another public meeting on the East Fenwick secondary plan was held on Saturday morning at the Fenwick Fire Hall, with planners and Town staff presenting on the next stage in the planning process. In September, SGL Planning’s Ute Maya-Giambattista showed residents the two options for the plan, which are the Town’s guidelines for developers in an area between Memorial Drive and Welland Road at Balfour Street. One of those options had two dense centres, south of Canboro Road, whereas the other had three, less-dense areas, with the third coming north of Canboro.
On Saturday, Maya-Giambattista told the crowd that the latter is the one that has been selected.
“We were trying to learn what makes Fenwick Fenwick,” she said. “Maple Street seems to be a good representation of what Fenwick is. It has a sidewalk, large trees, and generous front setbacks.”
Maya-Giambattista outlined the goals of the plan, which she said SGL had collected from the community.
First, she said, any development had to be walkable. Residents want single-detached homes that fit with the nature of existing housing, but many also expressed interest in housing variety, so that they don’t have to leave Fenwick when they get old.
To achieve these objectives, and to meet provincial guidelines that require new development in urban zones to be high density, Maya-Giambattista said that the plan was arranged so that homes along existing streets will match existing homes.
“[But] on the inside of the subdivision, the density will be greater,” she said.
Pointing to a map on screen, she explained that some of the planned development area is already designated as a wetland, with more study to be done to see if more land will be similarly labelled.
Following the presentation, the dozens of residents in the audience asked questions of both Maya-Giambattista and Town Director of Planning Barb Wiens.
The two addressed the stormwater management system that will be in place, with several ponds built to manage water that will drain from the development after it is paved over.
“But that’s just to do with stormwater,” said Rick Kavanagh, a resident who lives south of the East Fenwick area.
“I’m concerned with how all this excess drainage is going to impact groundwater. I’ve got a twenty-two foot drinking well that has been great all these years.”
Wiens told him that engineering studies will be done on groundwater to determine how best to mitigate any changes that will occur as a result of the new homes.
Drainage issues were of primary concern for many in attendance on Saturday.
“They have no idea where the water’s going,” said ‘Mayor of Fenwick’ Gary Chambers. “It’s all quicksand underneath. Fenwick floats.”
After the meeting broke off into table groups, Chambers asked SGL Planning’s Yasaman Soofi about the matter.
“I don’t see where the water goes after this pond,” he said to her, pointing at the bottom of the plan. “I just see a white space on the map.”
Soofi admitted that she didn’t know where the water would be going either, but promised Chambers that studies would be done as part of the remainder of the process.
“There needs to be a downstream study,” he said.
Soofi agreed. “You don’t want that to be absorbed later.”
Fenwick resident David Horton was similarly concerned about the drainage issue, though he sympathized with Soofi.
“You get paid what you get paid, and you’re the one here who has to take all of the flak…But still, all of that water is going to be released onto private property, and then they’ll have to deal with it,” he said. “And I don’t think that’s right.”
Chambers also made mention of his concern that owners of larger properties downstream would be footing more of the bill for drainage.
“They charge people who are on a municipal drain for the cleaning and maintenance of it,” he said. “All of the people in the subdivision, who’ll be living on postage stamps, won’t have to pay anything, or they’ll pay fifty bucks. It’s the farmers who’ll get slapped with a big bill.”
Mayor Dave Augustyn, who attended the meeting, agreed. “That’s a good point about the assessment,” he said to Chambers.
During the meeting, Fenwick resident Lynn Shatford, who lives on Sunset Drive behind where the development will take place, asked about the timeline on the project. Wiens said that there remains a substantial amount of the planning process, including a final secondary plan, Regional approval, and specific plans made by the developer.
According to Wiens, the study of the remaining woodlot will take a year, since a full habitat cycle of all four seasons must be observed.
“After that, it all depends on the landowners,” said Wiens. “It could be three, five, or even ten years. The shortest would be two or three years.”
Maya-Giambattista said later that she expects that it will be at least five years before development begins.
Resident Paul Bryant asked Wiens who will pay for the initial infrastructure required for the new development.
“The developer will pay for the servicing of the new roads,” said Wiens, “and the cost of infrastructure that will go in on existing roads and also benefit existing houses will be shared between developers and the Town.”
Maya-Giambattista invited attendees to write points that were important to them on the big planning maps on each table. A number of comments concerned the percentage of dwellings intended for seniors, while others worried about the potential for land expropriation along Canboro Road for the building of a planned bicycle route linking Fenwick and Fonthill.
But despite the concerns raised, and especially the unanswered ones about drainage, the tone of the meeting was markedly less contentious than the one in September. There, numerous residents were upset by the prospect of development at all.
Soofi said that she understands why people can be bothered.
“I grew up in Regina. There was so much [bad] development around there—all big box stores,” she said.
“When people have experience with bad development, there’s a lack of trust. We’re trying to build some trust with residents here.”
SGL will present the latest plan to Council in February.