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Pedestrian access concerns for proposed West Meadows extension

 

By Sharon Harrison
Details of an extension to the West Meadows sub-division in Picton presented at a virtual public information meeting this week brought some concerns about sidewalks and access to the yet to be built Catholic school.

Known as 7 Acres, the proposed sub-division development comprises 15 single detached units and 43 front-loaded townhouse units (with a maximum of two-storeys for all units), to be located at 175 Talbot St., in Picton.

The seven acre site is phase five of the broader West Meadows sub-division and will represent completion of the overall development. It is situated west of downtown Picton with surrounding uses primarily consisting of residential. The lands are considered vacant and agricultural fields, with the exception of a former horse barn, and are within the Picton settlement boundary designated urban centre.

Councillors Phil Prinzen, Brad Nieman, John Hirsch and Phil St-Jean also attended the meeting.

Property owner 10451355 Canada Ltd. and developer David Cleave of the Cleave Group outlined their planning application for a draft plan for sub-division and a zoning bylaw amendment application through planning consultants Fotenn Planning + Design.

David Nanton, a senior planner with Fotenn, provided a brief overview, as well as outlining the building massing and intended build-out.

“The intent of the application is to permit a residential plan of sub-division which provides for a mix of housing types totalling 58 residential units,” said Nanton.

“The development, in addition to the extension of internal road network, also plans on providing a pedestrian connection to the Millennium Trail, which is west of the development,” he said.

Nanton noted a planned sidewalk on the east side of the street will wrap around and connect to the entire development for pedestrian connectivity. The townhouses will include private garages and driveways to accommodate off-street parking.

The lands are currently zoned with a site-specific zone, special rural 1, RU1-57, appropriate for a rural agricultural property.

“These provisions permit a single detached dwelling, provide special performance standards for lot area and frontage, and also provide provisions for the keeping of livestock in a barn, to be limited to horses on the site.”

Nanton said the zoning bylaw amendment for this application seeks to establish site specific categories for both the planned single detached dwellings, as well as the townhouse dwellings.

“The R1 site-specific zone seeks to permit a slightly reduced front yard setback and increased maximum lot coverage for the lots intended for single family dwellings, where the R3 site-specific zones seeks to permit reduced minimum lot area and yard setbacks, as well as maximum lot coverage.”

Member of the public Kelly McGillivray said she was in favour of reduced front yard setbacks and increased lot coverage.

“I agree that in general that should be a trend in Picton to bring buildings forward and increase the density,” said McGillivray.

She did have some concerns about the traffic impact study as she said it did not address pedestrian or bike access.

“In general, the way the world is going, that is long past the trend that in most cases now there needs to be some basic addressing of those two access modes.”

She noted how the Millennium Trail is accessible by one walking path, but asked why there were only sidewalks on one side of the street, not on both sides.

Matt Coffey, approvals coordinator with the County said residential streets of a local nature would only require sidewalks on one side of the street.

“The cost to the applicant to build in is significant, and the cost to the municipality to maintain sidewalks is significant as well,” said Coffey.

He said there was also a design aspect.

“With sidewalks on both sides of the street, it makes for a very wide boulevard, and in a development where there’s not a lot of units, we felt a sidewalk on one side was appropriate.”

Coffey noted how nearby George Wright Boulevard has wide sidewalks on both sides of the street, as well as a fairly wide boulevard that could accommodate a future bike lane.

“Between that and the Millennium Trail, there is some sufficient justification for not asking for sidewalks on both sides of these streets.”

Nanton agreed that having the direct access to the Millennium Trail, there is enough connectivity and safe access for pedestrians and cyclists.

McGillivray said she would strongly advocate to consider sidewalks on both sides, noting having just one makes it inaccessible in wintertime.

She also spoke to the young families who would likely be living there, as well as its close proximity to the school.

“It’s a big community factor to have two sidewalks,” she said.

“Being so close to the school, I could see kids from other areas of the sub-division going internally instead of going out to main streets, walking to the sub-division, hitting the Millennium Trail for the last little bit to go to school.”

She suggested if space was an issue, to make the pavement narrower.

“Carve down the road and put in two sidewalks,” said McGillivray, adding, “It’s really the way of the future to be considering much more active transportation instead of cars.”

McGillivray also asked about the parkland contribution and since there is not going to be a dedicated park, would there be cash-in-lieu from the developer, to which Nanton confirmed cash-in-lieu would be part of the conditions.

She emphasized again the importance of accommodating bikes through the sub-division.

“I’d love to see kids riding their bikes to that new school, and to be able to get on the Millennium Trail, I would like to see all that type of accessibility kept in mind.”

Councillor Phil Prinzen said he could see the two sidewalks if there was access to the school, and asked if the school yard was only accessed from one point.

Nanton confirmed there would be no access through the end of the cul-de-sac, only directly from the Millennium Trail, with no planned connections to the school yard.

“The pedestrian traffic, the bike traffic for the children and the families heading to the school is going to be through the sub-division and through that Millennium Trail connection point,” said Nanton.

Prinzen said he would be surprised if the school board had access from the trail to the schoolyard, and if it wasn’t fenced off.

“If they are going to be using the trail as an access, maybe there should be more sidewalks,” he added.

Councillor Brad Nieman asked about parking with the reduced front setbacks, where he enquired if there would be parking available for people who have two cars, or people who have visitors.

Nanton said the on-street parking standards were universal to accommodate on-street parking as seasonally appropriate, so on one side of the street.

Nieman said in order to put two sidewalks in, it would narrow the street.

“By narrowing the street, it would enhance the parking issue, is that correct?” he asked.

Fotenn engineering consultant, Nancy Dionne, said the reduced setback from the front doesn’t change the setback to allow for more than one car.

“The renditions now include a parking garage, so each dwelling would have one garage and one external parking spot,” she said. “If there was to be a change for a sidewalk, it wouldn’t reduce the pavement width, there would be still enough pavement for on-street parking.”

Construction of the proposed development, if approved, is anticipated to begin once road access is established from phase two of the West Meadows development, and full build-out is anticipated to take 18 to 24 months. It is anticipated the development will be completed in two or three phases.

This public meeting was an information meeting only where next steps will include the applicant reviewing the comments received, and may make revisions.

Coffey confirmed the application will come before council at a planning committee meeting this spring where council will consider staff’s report and recommendation for approval.

Planning documents and updates relating to the 7 Acres sub-division application can be found here
https://www.thecounty.ca/13-t-22-502-z30-22-7-acres/

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  1. Paul D Cole says:

    The little dead end street that everyone seems to have forgotten about. A new affordable apartment building I thought was scheduled to be built at the end of that street in November 2022 with a completion date of June 2023. However the project has not began as of yet. This street consist of 100% affordable housing; there are no sidewalks at all and because of the low traffic volumes (dead end street). It’s one of the very last streets to be plowed in The entire County and sometimes they even forget to plow it. Kids have to walk to school in the morning in knee deep snow in the middle of the road sometimes. Disraeli St. seems to have been forgotten altogether.

  2. L Williams says:

    Sidewalks don’t seem important to people who don’t walk.
    People walk on sidewalks not everyone uses the trail.

  3. B Wilder says:

    The development lands in question are located within the Picton urban zone. Prior agricultural use notwithstanding, residential and or commercial development is expected within the urban zone.
    A subdivision cannot be built without the approval of the County Council. In fact, the municipality is a party to the agreement. One must question a comment by a ‘councillor'(sic) that a subdivision could be put in place without the knowledge or approval of Council.
    As to the battery storage facility, it was not located within the urban zone. It required a re-zoning of the land and it was within that context that the issue regarding loss of agricultural land was raised.

  4. Mike Barnes says:

    This is a story about sidewalks and access to the Millennium trail. The missed story here is how the developers hoodwinked everyone in gaining access to the prime agricultural farmland for residential in the first place. When a councillor came to my door canvassing prior to the election and I asked him about it, he told me that somehow this all happened without their knowing or approval … now how does such a thing happen I wonder? Earlier this year a proposal to build a battery storage site not far away was turned down as everyone cried foul over the Prime Agricultural land. I’ve seen the soil on both sites, and the land at 175 talbot was prime PRIME Ag land compared to the other site. Conventional monocropping vs. horse and cow on pastures for decades at 175 Talbot … no comparison, but somehow this story got missed.

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