With more than 400 hectares designated for urban growth in the Glendale area, the Niagara Region wants to ensure it develops according to a plan for a compact and complete community.
And it will take into account what was heard “loud and clear” from residents during public consultations — they want more services for locals, such as a grocery store, restaurants, and dentist and doctors’ offices, project manager Thomas Vallella told councillors last week.
He described a main street that will run from Glendale Avenue to the outlet mall to provide those services, “and we’d like to see that possibly be one of the first things developed.”
The locals can’t wait, said Steve Hardaker, one of four Niagara-on-the-Green residents of the Region’s community focus group.
Although there are all kinds of important issues being discussed for the area — one of the residents’ main concerns is height allowances for new development, hoping the escarpment view will be protected — they want services that will allow them to shop for groceries, and have doctors, dentists and restaurants close by.
They realize that will come in time, but won’t be expecting it in a hurry.
“What’s being discussed is exciting, but to get the amenities we want, we understand we need more population. We’re planning a community from the ground up, and we want development that is controlled, with guidelines for the developers as they’re ready to build. As that occurs, we will get the amenities, but that could take a while.”
He described a street leading into the mall, lined with offices and shops at street level, and apartments above, which will suit residents just fine.
A high school has been discussed with the Catholic school board, and could be a regional facility combining classes with the French school boards. An elementary school might also be considered, councillors were told.
Hardaker agreed it would be a benefit not to have local students getting on school buses taking them out of NOTL daily — he said he sees three buses in and out of Niagara-on-the-Green daily — but again believes that will be sometime in the future, when the population of the area has grown.
The Region began a two-step study to develop a vision for the future of the area, and presented the first phase to Regional council in October for approval before beginning the second stage, to put land-use policies and strategies for economic development to guide that vision, Amy Shepherd of IBI Group told town councillors last week.
That should be completed by this summer, to be endorsed as a Regional official plan amendment, she said, and will transform the Glendale area over the next 10, 20 or 30 years.
Once the plan is completed, Niagara-on-the-Lake’s official plan and Glendale secondary plan will require updating, she said.
The study is looking at an integrated mix of land uses, with minimal industrial land, and defined tourism and hospitality areas.
Appropriate building heights — a concern when NOTL councillors first heard about the Regional plan and also mentioned during public consultations, “are being explored,” she said, and when pushed by Coun. Stuart McCormack to have a more definitive answer just months from the expected completion of the project, said there are still variables, such as providing appropriate transitions, looking at the Town’s density numbers, and height restrictions set by the Niagara District Airport.
She said they were looking at compact development as opposed to high buildings, to protect views and vistas, including the Niagara Escarpment.
There will be more opportunity for public input with information centres, and more community focus group meetings, she told councillors.