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Revised Talbot on the Trail sub-division wins approval

By Sharon Harrison
At Wednesday’s planning committee meeting, council voted to approve a revised sub-division known as Talbot on the Trail.

“The sad reality is that we need housing stock and inventory and we need it desperately, and we need it a more reasonable price point than $1 million dollars,” said Prince Edward County mayor Steve Ferguson.

“It’s not going to cure all of our problems. It will assist in alleviating some of the pressure, but we cannot afford to delay any further,” he said. “One of the key priorities has been affordable and attainable housing in our community and I think this is a step in the right direction.”

The proposed development, which has changed its size and scale over many months, includes an Official Plan amendment and zoning bylaw amendment for the property situated at 62-72 Talbot Street in Picton.

Councillor Phil St-Jean requested a recorded vote which passed with 12 councillors in favour, and two councillors (Bolik and Maynard) absent for the vote.

Planner James Griffin gave a quick overview of the application noting it had been revised to reduce density to include only front towns and back-to-back townhouses.

Applicant and developer David Cleave was in agreement with the amended application proposed by staff.

The Talbot on the Trail sub-division, originally with 238 proposed units, has been reduced to 182 residential dwelling units.

The sub-division will include 106 standard freehold townhouse and semi-detached dwellings, 76 back-to-back stacked townhouses, and a single detached dwelling.

Three members of the public provided comments, all of whom were opposed to the proposed application, where concerns ranged from density issues, the removal of trees and the lack of a mix of types of housing among them.

Wendy LeBlanc represents a group of residents which has consistently called attention to concerns surrounding the development.

“The density of 43.3 units per hectare still exceeds the maximum 37 units per hectare,” she said, adding the development of 100 per cent townhomes is not compatible in style and density with the neighbouring sub-divisions. Lot sizes and green space around homes are significantly diminished.

“The homes are still being built on land formally designated as environmentally protected and a large number of trees have already been removed from this once protected area.”

LeBlanc said Talbot on the Trail represents several firsts for the community.

“The first residential area with 100 per cent semis and townhomes; the first sub-division without a diversity of housing types; the first development with back-to-back townhouses; the first sub-division to reach the density of over 40 units per hectare.”

Bruce Laidlaw said the main impact of the proposed bylaw changes is a reduction in green space and although there are conditions to provide trees to compensate for the increased lot coverage and decrease in green space, he says that until the tree preservation and planting and management report is issued, it is not possible to assess.
Luz Elena Espinosa spoke to the tree coverage on the site, which she says is part of the town forest.

“The Secondary Plan has a town forest policy and the objective is to preserve and enhance the town forest for its environmental, aesthetic and economic benefit,” said Espinosa. She also stated highly dense developments do not fit in the County.

Councillor Mike Harper asked how long ago the density of 25 units per hectare in the Secondary Plan was written.

Planner Griffin indicated the figures would have been reviewed in 2014. If the plan was reviewed today, Griffin said 25 units per hectare wouldn’t be the preferred target.

“However, there was the target of 36 to allow for maximum and there are also provisions for bonusing,” explained Griffin. “Also, today, if we were to review it, we need to conserve agricultural lands and to build within our settlement areas and one way to do that is density.”

Councillor Phil St-Jean said he was in support of the development.

“These lands were identified going back as far back as 1988 in the previous Picton-Hallowell Secondary Plan, and so this is nothing new… they were always going to be development lands.”

“I see this development being a model and we need to be reactive to the market that is happening right now.”

As a community, he said we have a lot of stresses and demands placed on us.

“Developments such as these will definitely aid us in dealing with our infrastructure challenges.”

He said this development alone will generate well over a $1 million in development charges, well over $2 million in connection fees, in addition to building permit fees.

“The assessment value of 181 units is going to generate probably $700,000 in new tax dollars for this municipality that we sorely need.”

He said this development also means jobs for people who live in this community.

Councillor Bill Roberts asked what the unit pricing was likely to be where developer David Cleave confirmed today it is $349,000.

“The market is moving so fast, we are not at market yet and that could change tomorrow,” said Cleave.

Councillor Roberts noted the MLS listings in Prince Edward County for the average house price right now is $1,020,192 million, and climbing.

“This [new development] is affordable and attainable housing by the crazy measure of the price of housing units on the market today at over $1 million for a home.”

He reminded that affordable housing is the municipality’s number one priority and he was also in support of the application.

This meeting is available for viewing on the County’s YouTube channel.

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  1. SM says:

    Just ran a calculator to determine what someone earning $30,000.00 per year might be able to afford. This assumes a single individual, with no debt and 20% downpayment. The maximum affordability is just over $197,000.00. That assumes almost $40,000.00 as a downpayment. Now if there are dependents, that maximum price will decrease. Today, on MlS there is only one year round dwelling listed for sale in PEC and it is a mobile home that is 21 years old.

  2. SM says:

    The average home sale price in Canada on April 15, 2021 was $716,828.00 up 32% over March 2020. Compared to that figure, $350,000.00 is a bargain. Someone asked how someone earning $30,000.00 could afford one of those houses. Obviously they can’t and just as obviously they cannot afford to buy any form of housing. The price of building products has increased tremendously over the past year. A simple 2X4 is about triple the price it was a year ago.
    New building expands the municipal tax base. There is basically no industry here so it is the residential sector that funds this County. Costs for municipal projects go up. Wages for County employees go up. More services are demanded and have to be funded and there is only one way: tax dollars. The mill rate in the County is lower than in the surrounding municipalities. You have a choice. More housing providing more tax dollars or a higher tax bill for existing properties.
    From this story, this section of Picton has been intended for development for decades. Good planning principles dictate that urban areas be built out. Keeping costs per unit lower requires more density. Time for a reality check folks.

  3. Julia says:

    This is not low cost housing. 324,000 per unit. And that is probably the lowest cost unit. Since most work is minimum wage, 15 if you are lucky, salary of 30k a year, no benefits. How on earth do you afford this development. Agree with other posters that is is for people relocating, primarily seniors. Plus it saddens me to see no innovation on how affordable housing could be built instead of just high density, what about tiny homes. No innovation around carbon emissions, what about solar power. No innovation around preserving the environment. Just because something was supposed to be 33 years ago, things change, like how we are communicating right now or
    COVID. And again do we really need housing stock? How are we going to maintain the infrastructure we have (drive down barker, or talbot north of the new development), do we need the tax dollars? Is that what developers and real estate peole tell us. Again population modeling shows population decreases for this area with 43% of our population over 75 by 2031. Let’s be innovative. Still sad in picton.

  4. angela says:

    There is demand for these new homes for sure but it is hi9ghly unlikely that it originates with the average county worker hoping to find something affordable. It’s the newcomers who are eager to buy these homes. How long before concerns are voiced that existing services need expensive upgrades/expansions to serve all of these new developments? The county has seen a great deal of new development in recent years – very expensive homes built by new arrivals. Taxes have not gone down. Instead they have gone up. Where will all of these new arrivals find doctors? They won’t and instead will be forced to clog an already too busy ER. By the time the new hospital is built will it be large enough to serve the needs of this community?

  5. Michelle says:

    There has to be demand or it wouldn’t be proposed. Benefits of more housing, placed in settlement areas, more tax dollars and more connects to the water/wastewater which are needed.

  6. angela says:

    How are these developments supposed to help families working for minimum wage or slightly more find homes? There is nothing to rent for a reasonable price and nothing affordable for them to buy. These developments are allowed with the explanation that they are urgently needed for affordable housing. Would it not be closer to the truth to say that they will provide housing for out of area people who want to relocate here? The locals who want to buy will still be on the outside looking in.

  7. Bruce Nicholson says:

    Unfortunately, the price of real estate has forced towns and cities across the Province and Country to move to intensification of development to provide the lowest cost of housing. It is a difficult balancing act to follow this approach and create the quality of life for future generations. The benefit to the County is addressing the housing shortage and the future revenue streams generated from residential property taxes. The development dollars are not the true allure.

  8. Julia says:

    At densities that are not according to plan. Destroying the environment and why to we continue to expand when we have infrastructure we can not maintain. There is no longer asphalt on my road in picton. But we just keep adding because of the allure of short term gain of development dollars, vicious circle. Read David Suzuki. This settlement area was first identified in 1988, 33 years ago, things have changed. Who are we building all these homes for population projections up to 2031 have this area decreasing by 2%. This momentary need for housing stock is a reaction to the pandemic and when workplaces return to their social norms this will all stop. We have not created any new jobs, we closed schools. Sad in picton.

  9. Susan says:

    I think the Talbot St expansion makes perfect sense. It is a settlement area.

  10. Julia says:

    We seem to be losing focus on protecting the environment and building subdivisions that keep with our heritage. This sounds just like Quinte Isles in which 142 citizen groups gave depositions against, and our councillors did not listen, do you not represent the people. And our only solution for affordable housing is the mistake everyone makes high density. We keep wanting those development dollars but can not sustain the infrastructure and yet we keep building more and more (Claramount, Quinte Isle, proposed Wellington subdivisions) that we can not sustain. Vicious circle, another common municipal government mistake. So affordable housing when we have precarious low paying employment and oh by the way we closed a lot of the schools. Sad in Picton.

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