The second phase of the Region’s Glendale plan, to create a community that will develop over the next 20 years or so, includes a public meeting, before the plan is finalized.
Phase 1, which was presented to the Town at a council meeting in September 2018, was the visioning stage, says Glendale resident Steve Hardaker. One of four residents invited to be part of a focus group looking at the details of the plan, including land use policies. Hardaker attended the third and final meeting of the second phase, which began about a year ago. Next week the public meeting will be held in preparation for the completion of that stage.
In addition to the residents, Lord Mayor Betty Disero, Coun. Gary Zalepa, regional and town planning staff, Glendale businesses, Niagara College, and developers who own land in Glendale were included in the focus group, which commented on strategic planning that will help build a neighbourhood from the ground up, says Hardaker.
Details in this phase will include urban design, commercial land needs and transportation on “400 hectares of developable land, with some low density, but more medium and higher density, and mixed land uses. There will be an influx of a lot of people into this community over the next 20 years, and we have to make sure we get the mix right, and the heights right.”
One of the most important decisions to be made, in respect to the impact on residents of Glendale and elsewhere in town, is the height limits for new development, which will become part of the Region’s Official Plan and the Town’s secondary plan for Glendale.
While the Region is looking at three to eight storeys for some areas, Hardaker, and Lord Mayor Betty Disero, said they would be more comfortable with three to five storeys, both to preserve views and streetscapes in Glendale, and to discourage expectations for increased height to creep into other neighbourhoods.
“It’s important to get the density right,” says Hardaker. “We want to keep the views of the escarpment. I think it’s important for the community to have a say, and to make sure the Region gets it right.”
Disero is concerned about the density along what is for now being called the main street, leading from Glendale Avenue, across from the Niagara-on-the-Green homes, to the outdoor mall. Envisioned in the plan are commercial uses at street level, with apartments above.
“I think they should be limited to three to five storeys, not three to eight,” says Disero.
“With five storeys, you can look up and see the sky, and the buildings don’t create a wind tunnel. It has a much more quaint feeling, more like the streets of Europe. I think the maximum they should build to is five storeys.”
Eight storeys give a completely different look and feel to a street, says Disero, but also of concern to her is the lack of information at this point about what density is required.
“I’d like more information on the numbers, to understand what our target is and what we need to get to it.”
While Disero says the Region has done a good job on the overall plan, she also has a concern about the community hub designated for the corner of Glendale Avenue and Taylor Road.
The plan for this particular parcel of land includes uses she doesn’t see as being compatible — a school, a community centre, a park with playground, and a transportation centre for buses, including GO buses, as well as a parking lot.
“I think we have to look at other locations for some of these land uses,” she says.
Although the neighbourhood growth will be gradual, the need for a school may not be that far off, says Hardaker.
“When I look at my neighbourhood, I see two or three school buses coming in and out of it. Our neighbourhood is transforming, with more young families, and it will continue to grow. We have to take into consideration the size of residential units, including homes for singles and families, and also affordable housing has to be considered.”
As the population grows, so to will the amenities now lacking in Glendale, such as a grocery store, he says.
Also included in the discussion of transportation is the future possibility of a GO station, says Hardaker, somewhere along the tracks.
Two locations that have been mentioned are near Woodend Conservation Area on Taylor Road, and by the old canal.
Much of the future development of the area, and the timeframe for development, depends on the population growth, that target that is hard to pin down.
Hardaker says he’s heard numbers such as a 10,000 increase in population for Glendale, and other figures that say 13,000 to 15,000, in the next 20 to 50 years, in a town that is currently less than 18,000, spread over five distinct communities.
“I may not see that, but it’s exciting to think about. We’re planning a community of 400 hectares of land, a development of a complete community from the ground up. That’s what makes this whole process so exciting.”
The final public information meeting before the plan is finalized will be held Nov. 20 at the Holiday Inn Express on York Road, at 6 p.m.