Density continues to be a concern, as does transit, for Glendale residents learning details of the Region’s future plans for their neighbourhood.
The good news for residents is that the planning project underway will lead to the long-awaited amenities that will improve their quality of life, a message planners have been hearing throughout the process.
Phase 1, which was presented to the Town at a council meeting in 2018, was the visioning stage that has led to the fleshing-out of details during the second stage, including land uses, says Glendale resident Steve Hardaker. He is one of four residents in a focus group involved in this second stage, which got closer to completion with the public open house held last Wednesday at the Holiday Inn Express, attended by about 60 residents and stakeholders, and regional staff to answer their questions and concerns.
Kirsten McCauley, a senior planner with the Region, said the plan “speaks to a complete community,” and takes into account the feedback they received. That included the importance of a main street, with ground-level commercial amenities, and residential units above. She also presented some details of the aspects determined to be important, one of which is to protect and enhance landscape and natural features, including an eco park, and to protect the views of the Niagara Escarpment.
Also on the list of priorities are trails and active transportation facilities, including bike lanes, and the “walkability” of neighbourhoods; an accessible and connected transit system, linking Glendale with the rest of Niagara-on-the-Lake and the region; creating a main street from the urban neighbourhood to the Outlet Collection, with offices, restaurants and other commercial uses at street level and residential units above; providing a diverse range of housing, with choices and affordability; creating a public civic square; design elements that create sustainability, including great streetscapes with parking areas; and co-ordinating the infrastructure upgrades needed to accomplish the plans going forward.
The goal is to complete the current work on the project by early next year, and amend the Region’s Official Plan and the Town’s Secondary Plan for Glendale to allow development of the 400-hectare area community to proceed over the decades to come — as one planner said, likely a period of 40, 50 or even 60 years.
The plan involves several residential areas of development, all medium to high density, a community and transit hub at the corner of Glendale Avenue and Taylor Road, the main street, and a cluster of employment lands on the north side of the highway.
It allows, if current plans are approved, for an expansion of White Oaks Resort and Spa, and includes working with Niagara College on one side of the QEW and its hope for an innovation centre, and with the Niagara Native Centre on the other side of the highway, which also has plans for growth.
One resident attending the meeting was Caroline McCormick, president of the Friends of Laura Secord. Secord’s trek in 1812 took her through much of the area now under discussion, says McCormick, who is hoping for recognition of the historic significance of the neighbourhood.
“The Laura Secord Legacy trail passes right through the area,” says McCormick. “It emerges from escarpment woodlands at Niagara College, continues along Taylor Road past the Outlet Collection at Niagara, to Homer Bridge.”
She plans to submit a proposal to recognize the hero who walked across the site, “and changed the course of Canadian history,” she says. “For starters, we thought perhaps a more historically appropriate name for the “Glendale Crossing” should be the “Laura Secord Crossing.”
And how about “a Laura Secord statue in the centre of the roundabout,” on the main street, she adds. “We could reroute the trail so walkers can pass it.”
She realizes it may take some convincing, but believes recognition of Secord should be part of any future plans for the area.
Former town planner Stephen Bedford was also at the meeting.
Representing White Oaks, he is watching the Glendale plan emerge. The hotel owners are hoping for a seven-storey addition to the existing building, and one or two more buildings, with at least one up to 20 storeys, “with the same kind of quality that’s already there,” Bedford says. So far it seems the Town and Region are onside, he says, and he is watching and hoping that support continues.
Larry Stewart, president of Avondale Stores, lives on the north side of the Glendale development area. He is also watching with an interest in the employment areas, he says. He likes what he sees — the emphasis is on “prestige industrial” growth, he says, and he hopes it stays that way.
“I’m good with more commercial development. I’m just hoping it’s not for growing marijuana. I hope that never happens.”
Donald Ziraldo, who has been involved in economic development within the town in the past, was there to ask what kinds of jobs might be coming to the area, and whether there is a plan to seek out certain types of industry.
At this point, he was told, the project is focusing on protecting lands for employment growth, but not yet looking for certain kinds of employment.
Hardaker, representing residents, says while he can’t speak for all of them, he feels most are supportive.
There is a closed Facebook page with about 250 members, on which he has been posting articles about the planning project, and most of the comments have been positive, he says.
His concern is the density, with any residential developments slated for medium or high density, and the details of what that could look like yet to be determined.
However, he and others are watching the plans for the main street, which, along with the increased population from residential development, should bring the amenities locals are hoping for, such as medical offices and restaurants. “That’s what most of us are anxious and excited about,” he says.
“It can’t come soon enough.”