News Local

Shaping the Official Plan Review

By Miriam King, Bradford Times

First in a series of Stakeholder Meetings, as part of the Town of Bradford West Gwillimbury's Official Plan Review was held in Bradford, Ont. on Tuesday August 16, 2016. Miriam King/Bradford Times/Postmedia Network

First in a series of Stakeholder Meetings, as part of the Town of Bradford West Gwillimbury's Official Plan Review was held in Bradford, Ont. on Tuesday August 16, 2016. Miriam King/Bradford Times/Postmedia Network

The first in a series of Stakeholder meetings was held August 16, asking for input on the policies that will form the framework for the Town of Bradford West Gwillimbury's Official Plan Review.

The topics were Growth and Population, and Downtown Bradford. Facilitator Joe Nethery, Senior Project Manager with MMM Group, explained the connection: Provincial Places to Grow policies and legislation, enshrined in the County of Simcoe's Official Plan, project that Bradford West Gwillimbury will grow to a population of 50,500 from the current 35,000 by 2031, and from 9,400 jobs to 18,000.

Intensification within the downtown core of Bradford help the Town meet growth targets.

“These numbers reflect fairly significant growth,” said Nethery. The Town's existing Official Plan proposes a population of 47,800 by 2026; the new target adds another 2,700 people.

“What does that 2,700 look like, and where would it go?” he asked a crowd of about 30, that included Town Councillors, developers, landowners and interested residents. “Is there sufficient land (within the existing urban boundaries) to accommodate that?.. Does the downtown need more people in it?”

Nethery noted that many municipalities now see “older main streets as a potential redevelopment opportunity.” He added, “The time will come when we will have to make a recommendation to Council as to what appropriate intensification will look like” - ranging from secondary apartments and garden suites, to townhomes, condos and high rise apartments.

The Town “has done an awful lot of studying about what we can do to make downtown Bradford a more exciting place;” the issue is one of how that vision can be implemented.

Several participants identified the downtown core as an ideal location for intensification – already serviced by public transit, and near a GO Train station – but concerns were raised over the current “bottleneck” in traffic on Holland St.

Councillor Gary Lamb noted that the Town has proposed higher density development in its Official Plan, “but they never get built.” Under pressure from developers, the Town has approved townhomes or link homes, instead of apartment buildings, he said. “Between politics and profit and expediency, we're not building housing that allows us to achieve our goal.”

“When we actually go to implement them, it's 'Not in my backyard',” agreed Councillor Mark Contois.

Several developers and realtors warned that there may be no demand for high rise and higher density development, but others pointed out that there is an affordability issue, with the homes now being built, and a need for a full range of housing types.

And to the question, “Does the downtown need more people in it?”, Councillor Gary Baynes responded, “It's too busy traffic-wise; it's not busy enough, people-wise.”

Stakeholder meeting #2  took place August 18,  on the topic of the Town's Employment Lands; a third meeting, on Seniors' Accommodation, will take place August 23 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Bradford Community Centre.