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Wellington’s Belleville Street to be “gateway” to large Cork and Vine sub-division

Dorothy Bothwell joins other residents to make comments at the presentation.

By Sharon Harrison
“This is a 20-year project, but we have tens of millions of dollars of sales today,” said Kaitlin Corporation’s Devon Daniell, referring to Wellington’s proposed new Cork and Vine sub-division development.

“If that sewer was ready today, we would be out there tomorrow,” he said, noting that with significant sales already (and 3,000 people signed-up for the next sales launch), the developer is only waiting on the County to install the main water and sewer line (which is proposed for next year) in order to start construction.

Several hundred residents filled the Wellington and District Community Centre Wednesday evening (along with a loud chirping cricket who joined the conversation) for a public meeting on the proposed Cork and Vine sub-division development plans.

The meeting (which attendees had to pre-register for), was hosted by the developer (Kaitlin Corporation’s Devon Daniell, and its agent, Weston Consulting’s Ryan Guetter). It was in relation to the developer’s application for an official plan amendment (Wellington secondary plan) and a zoning bylaw amendment as well, a request to revise an approved draft plan of sub-division for County Club Estates through a red-line revision.

One audience member described the meeting as “an overwhelming amount of information” and said it was “important to understand the dynamic of what was being presented”.

“There are two people presenting a master plan of enormous magnitude. It represents a crisis of character for a small village to add a sub-division which is double its size, if not more,” she said. “You are proposing things that are huge planning ideas and we’re being asked to reflect on street size, on planning, on zoning, on commercial.”

The purpose of the application is to permit the construction of a multi-phased development that includes a range of low-rise and mid-rise residential housing, commercial and mixed uses.

It would also permit a multi-phased sub-division that includes the development of approximately 1,300 residential units and commercial uses along Belleville Street, while establishing open space and environmentally-protected areas.

The property in question is located north of the Millennium Trail, east and west (largely) of Belleville Street, and east of Consecon Street, in the village of Wellington.

Ryan Guetter, a land use planner with Weston Consulting, provided a brief overview presentation on Cork and Vine’s development plans, including a little history of the project and the site, together with an outline of the plans.

The presentation was followed by a question session. The public was further encouraged to meet with the developer and consultants, as well as County planning staff, after the meeting to ask questions and provide feedback in a more informal setting.

Guetter said their vision for the project would take into account what’s already there and building upon the strengths of it, to include a full range of age diversity and housing diversity.

“Given the overall scale of this and how it relates to the existing community, we heard from a lot of folks on the importance of maintaining walkability, the access, and the relationship to the existing community,” explained Guetter. “So the importance of trying to create that integration, but also create something new and pay proper homage to what’s there, and what’s so important about your community, but provide the opportunity for new things.”

He said those items of importance to be considered are recreational amenities, housing forms, parking, secondary suites and housing affordability.

As part of Kaitlin’s plans for the 1.5 hectares (3.7 acres) parcel of land within the site is for local-serving commercial use, as well as three mixed-use parcels which provide additional opportunities to integrate small- cale retail and service commercial uses at grade level.

The entire Cork and Vine property encompasses a total area of 147 hectares in Prince Edward County, including two main property portions in Wellington previously known as Fields of Wellington (on the west side of Bellville Street), and Country Club Estates (on the east side of Belleville Street).

In its future phases, the proposed development will also include a hotel, parkland, a clubhouse, a golf course and outdoor amenities; although it was noted during the meeting that a golf course is probably off the table at this point. Instead, some sort of recreational use will be considered.

“So far, the concept plan is bit of a change from the previous concept plan which was for a golf course community, this is quite a change, and it provides the community with an opportunity to provide some feedback and how this property can become a gateway to this community, and going forward how this community will be shaped over time,” said Matt Coffey, the County’s planning co-ordinator, approvals,

Coffey said feedback from the public is important especially if the public wants to see certain attributes and components included, such as design standards and how buildings are shaped, how street layouts are designed, where higher residential development is typically located (and how high they should be), and how parking should be accommodated, as well as opportunities for trails and recreation.

“We are here on a fact-finding mission to get as much feedback as we can,” added Daniell.

Phase 1A and 1B are to be the first two phases (the most southern phases) to be built according to Daniell, who said they have “tens of millions of dollars of sales in them” and if the County sewer was ready today, “we would have bulldozers out there; these ones are ready to go, and we are very, very excited to get going”.

The 1B phase initially had some of the two-to four-storey midrise apartment buildings proposed, with a mix of condominium and rental in two buildings, and will include an outdoor swimming pool, clubhouse and gym, said Daniell.

“The feedback we heard was smaller units and more affordable, these will definitely be in the $400,000-something price points, some of them,” he said.

He also noted there will be coach houses included in this phase, something Daniell said they have never done before, which will be in the form of a townhouse with a garage behind with a secondary unit above which could be rented out.

The 1A phase will contain a collection of singles, bungalows, twins, and two-storey towns.

He also spoke to the general timeline, noting that phases 1A and 1B are approved, engineered and ready to go, and some of it is sold.

If servicing (installation of the main trunk water line by the County) is completed next year, construction can begin in 2025, with first occupancy in 2026 (for the singles) and 2027 (for the mid-rise).

The phasing work plan indicates seven phases of development, which Daniell described as a “massive project” to span 20 years, one Guetter said is likely to change over the planned timeline as housing product and ideas change.

Guetter also spoke to the relatively-new R4 zoning proposal for the majority of phases 2 and 3 plans, where other lands are changing from accommodation, open space and other zones, introducing new zoning categories.

He clarified that the R4 zoning is a category introduced by the County to provide a “flexible or permissive type of zoning that allows for various types of housing product in one zone”.

It includes detached, semi-detached and town homes, and he said it is intended to try to facilitate different housing product that would deliver the full range of house sizes and types, allowing for market flexibility, including coachhouse product variation, and needs for affordability.

“That zoning application is really what’s driving the types of things it would govern, for example, parking, building heights and different types of use permissions within those zone categories,” said Guetter.

He spoke to key elements, such as block-style as being something the developers heard from public feedback, with block patterns providing internal driveways with walkways, shorter block lanes, and a centralized highly-accessible park with multiple public road frontages in the centre.

“The idea of this, at the northern boundary residential area, we have this idea of future recreational amenity; perhaps there’s a golf element to it, perhaps there’s other things. We have envisioned this is a great opportunity for something to be integrated and well-used by not only the immediate residents, but serving a broader-scale recreational purpose.”

He noted mixed-use and commercial use elements for Belleville Street as a need to utilize the importance of the road, where he referred to opportunities for a “gateway” and what that should look like.

“We do see the need for some commercial, very different perhaps to the downtown core, and we are very sensitive to that, and we’d like your feedback on that in terms of what you envision seeing here,” Guetter said.

With the phase one developments essentially ready to go, Guetter said they are now looking at plans for phases 2, 3 and 4.

If approved, the applications would remove the lands from the current special policy designation (Policy Area 1) and establish a new village residential and village core area (inclusive of open space and environmentally-protected areas).

Environmental concerns formed part of the questions asked from audience members which included the consideration a sustainability plan regarding the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, as well as highlighting the current climate crisis and alternative ways of building.

The health crisis and lack of doctors was also raised, where several folks asked why anyone would want to move to the County if they are unable to find a doctor. And in a similar vein, some were concerned about a lack of school provisions for all the proposed new residents and new families it would attract.

Others spoke ask if short-term accommodation or bed and breakfast potential within the development would be allowed, solutions for affordable housing, the retail and commercial space proposed, as well as how the existing network of roads would handle the influx of hundreds of daily commuters.

One gentleman audience member noted how Canada must meet greenhouse gas emissions reductions of 40-45 per cent, within less than seven years.

“This is a critical point, when this plan is being shaped, how can it contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in a meaningful way?” he asked.

Audience member John Ambrose, who identified himself as an engineer, asked the room “how many people here feel we are in a climate crisis?”

He went on to describe a study he has made on a particular type of construction heating and air conditioning for buildings and large quantities of buildings, called district net zero energy, defined as using geo-thermal vertical wells in combination with another resource of electricity (for example, solar).

“It is based on the visions that we are obliged to take care of the environment, so the benefits of this particular kind of construction means it eliminates carbon dioxide, and it cuts the cost of utilities, and it creates a safe environment when the climate turns against us.”

One Wellington on the Lake resident, who is currently without a family doctor, asked if a health centre is part of the development plans, how would they find doctors.

“Not only do we have a climate disaster on our hands, but we have a health disaster on our hands,” he said. “We have a problem here; we don’t have doctors, how can you have those people living here without doctors?”

Dorothy Bothwell had concerns with the zoning bylaw amendment to re-zone the entire development to R4, which she described as a “blanket thing, moving from R2 and R3 (which allowed more room around and smaller houses and bigger lots), and going to R4 squishes everything together”.

She said she would rather see a mix of zoning which allows for flexibility.

“R4 might be nice and flexible for what you want, but it also means tiny, compact lots with big houses or very small setbacks,” said Bothwell, who added that regarding personal lot sizes, the proposed zoning “condenses everything into tiny postage-stamp lots”.

She also pointed out issues about inadequate parking (and not reducing driveways and garage spaces too much for those with larger vehicles), concern about fire routes, as well as noting the units (back-to-back townhouses) come with no basements and therefore a lack of storage (and where would folks put their stuff).

Bothwell also brought up how the draft plan has changed over recent years with the number of units, which started off at 462, increasing to 1,273, then 1,364 and is now proposed at 1,565 units. She noted this doesn’t include the proposed future hotels, “so we could be looking at a significantly higher population if that ever ends up getting re-zoned, or changed”.

Referring to the $100 million water and wastewater plant upgrade plans, and the upfront financing agreement the developer has agreed to pay to help finance the water upgrades, Bothwell had concerns about the upfront financing only applying to the original 462 units. Her concerns relate to the subsequent units over the 20-year duration, where she wanted to know how the waterworks upgrades would be financed going forward.

In response, Daniell confirmed that the upfront financing agreement indicates 25 per cent of the area-specific development charges for the first phases would be paid immediately, with the balance of the area-specific development charges to be paid once the sub-division agreements are signed (not at building permit stage which is usually typical).

“Next year is when we are going to be paying the sub-division agreements and the development charges,” Daniell confirmed.

He also confirmed that for phases 1A and 1B, which will start servicing next year, area-specific development charges for the two phases will be $10.2 million, plus $3.5 million in regular development charges.

Over the span of the 20-year project, Daniell said there is a “total there of $39.6 millions in area-septic development charges, $13 million in regular development charges, for a total of $52.6 million”.

Peta Hall asked about maintaining the existing trees.

“How can you develop your new sub-division and maintain the existing trees and hedgerows which are there right now because by planting new trees; it’s going to take 10-15 years in this plan for them to be as established,” said Hall. “Can you be creative and work around those existing trees and hedgerows to have your little pockets surrounded by trees and hedgerows?”

Audience member Kevin Hanbury spoke to the confusion about the numbers the County has been referring to in recent months regarding “huge increases in population that is going up to 14,000 people over a relatively short period of time”.

“You are the sole developer at this point, you are talking about people starting to move in in 2026-27, what are the projections for 2026-27-28-29-30 for new people moving into this community?” he asked.

While difficult to predict over 20 years, Daniell said they were anticipating 200 units per year, for five years. Roughly two people per unit equals 400 people per year moving into this community, for the next five years, to which Hanbury said “he was at a loss of how we got to 14,000”..

One young woman spoke up about how many job opportunities in the County pay minimum wage, where she noted that the application mentions the proposed development will provide a range of housing options for all residents.

“What are the housing options planned for workers who are paid minimum wage?” she asked, to which Guetter said they are accommodating apartment forms, semi-detached, detached, townhome forms of different types.

“Some of the more affordable units would be the apartment form unit, or the coach town model where you have that suite above the garage potentially,” said Guetter, who also spoke to secondary suites that could be rental opportunities.

“It is not guaranteeing affordable housing,” she added.

At the request of the County, a retail\service commercial market study undertaken by urban Metrics in September 2022 on behalf of the developer, for future phases of development, concluded there will be “significant population growth in Wellington and the trade area, particularly with the addition of the Cork and Vine sub-division, that will warrant additional retail/service space in Wellington”.

The report stated that the proposed commercial space on the subject site is fully supportable from a market perspective.

“The introduction of new commercial space within the Cork and Vine community will provide important convenience scale uses that are not otherwise available based on current market conditions. Moreover, these new uses are not envisioned to impact—or competitively undermine—the function of other important commercial concentrations, specifically the Main Street areas of Wellington and Bloomfield.”

Planning staff formally requested the study as a “means to ensure that the proposed commercial space are indeed warranted, and that the amount of space contained therein will effectively support local community needs in a manner that is commensurate with existing and emerging needs of Wellington-area residents.”

The findings further state that the “proposed commercial space on the 1.5 hectare (3.7 acres) parcel and potential for commercial storefronts on the mixed-use developments would help meet local-serving needs and complement the retail/service facilities nearby on Wellington Main Street”.

It states that the proposed commercial space within the Cork and Vine concept are warranted.

“The addition of approximately 50,000 to 70,000 square feet of new commercial space would provide sufficient market balance, and at the same time ensure that the day-to-day needs of Wellington-area residents are adequately served by appropriately-scaled localized commercial facilities. In other words, residents would be able to fulfill the commonly cited phrase, ‘keep it in the County’.”

There was also significant discussion on Wellington’s commercial needs at a public meeting held two weeks prior on the water and wastewater expansion necessary for development to happen in Wellington, and the upfront development charges required from developers in order to facilitate waterworks growth. See more here

The proposed development contemplates a mix of residential, commercial and recreational uses and the proposal is phased, a part of a master planned community, north of the existing Wellington settlement area. The proposed development comprises approximately a total of 423 single-detached dwellings, and 759 townhouse units in phases 2A to 4A.

Three blocks are proposed to be developed for mixed residential and commercial use to support the needs of future residents, along Belleville Street.

Phase 4A is proposed to be used for recreational uses. A club house with outdoor amenities such as tennis court, pickleball court, golf course and hotels and outdoor amenities are proposed for this phase.

In addition, the development contemplates one public park in phase 2A and common green areas in condominium townhouse development blocks.

Planning documentation relating to the proposed Cork and Vine development plans can be accessed on the County`s website, under planning applications.

Feedback from this meeting (and on-going) will be considered before the applications goes before council at a statutory public meeting for final decision, at a date yet to be determined.

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  1. SS says:

    Courtesy of a relatively quick Google search, this may be a cautionary tale — from Midland, Ontario, regarding what seems to be a similar type and scale of development as what is proposed for Cork & Vine. The project there is called Bayport Village.

    Here is an article from June 3, 2010, over 13 years ago. At that time, the development seems to have been actually past the stage that Cork and Vine is, presently.

    The article quotes the developer (Kaitlin Corp.) as follows:

    “We had a lot of delays, but now the subdivision is registered and all the services are in: town water, sewer, electricity and gas.”

    The article goes on to quote the developer’s sales director, Gerry Sciara:

    “We estimate it’s going to be probably a four- to five-year project overall,” he said, adding the detached homes are close to 50 per cent sold, while freehold townhouses are about 20 per cent sold.

    There’s not a lot of coverage after that, but turn the clock ahead just over 12 years, and we see this article which does not appear very positive:

    A more recent (and seemingly more positive) update on the development (June 5, 2023) is here:

    I am sure that everyone always starts these projects with the best of intentions, all the way around. But it’s not clear from the coverage, exactly home many homes have been built to date, and what their configurations are (apartments, condos, townhomes, detached, etc.)

    There is no way to know for sure, whether or not the County experience with Cork & Vine will be better, worse or similar to the Bayport Village experience in Midland.

    But I would think it logical for County Council, Staff and taxpayers to dig much deeper into comparable development experience elsewhere, as part of due diligence before approving and starting massive infrastructure expenses.

  2. SS says:

    Lots of info in this article, trying to boil it down to something to make it easier to evaluate. Trying to sort out fact from maerketing-speak.

    The first quote from the developer says “… we have tens of millions of dollars of sales today …”. Not sure what the forecasted average price of such homes would be, but assuming this would not be materially less than $600K per home, the “tens of millions” could translate to as few as a couple dozen.

    Soon after this, we read “… and 3,000 people signed-up for the next sales launch …”. Pretty large-sounding number. These may, however, be people who have simply added their email to a mailing list for information. Not all of these 3,000 people will commit to buying a home in this development. The developer may have some assumptions about the percentage of teh 3,000 that will become sales.

    Dorothy Bothwell’s concerns as cited seem very well-reasoned. On the financial front, particularly the “Referring to the $100 million water and wastewater plant upgrade plans … concerns about the upfront financing only applying to the original 462 units.” sentence.

    Assuming a development charge of approximately $28,000 per unit, that “upfront financing” amounts to just under $13 million. That leaves $87 million to be financed “not upfront”. How would this be financed?

    This seems like the same sort of approach governments often use to pass “omnibus bills”. Approve it all, or we will do nothing. A much more incremental approach to this would seem more logical, and more consistent with County tradition and culture.

    The end vision of the marketing-speak for this development sounds a lot like “The Westdel” development in London, Ontario. It would be interesting to get some actual tours of similar developments, at whatever stage they may be presently.

    Disclosure: I presently am not a prospective buyer of such units, having built a home a few years ago in a rural setting. We fled the large urban centres precisely because of the urban sprawl that seemed endless, fuelled only by developer and investor financial ambitions.

    The steamroller of this development needs to be slowed down, perhaps stopped for a time, and properly evaluated before it’s allowed to continue. And let’s evaluate facts, not marketing hyperbole.

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