Planning Committee okays 763-unit Minnow Lake subdivision
The Silver Hills Subdivision, the first residential development in Sudbury by ARG DEVCO, a division of Interpaving Ltd., received unanimous consent last night. The plan includes 45 lots for single-detached dwelling units, 63 lots for semi-detached dwelling units and two blocks for medium-density residential development on a series of streets with two cul-de-sacs on the south side of the new proposed road.
The Silver Hills Subdivision will eventually include 171 homes, 112 townhouses and 480 apartments for a grand total of 763 units all together.
ARG DEVCO, a company best known locally for its work repaving and rebuilding local roadways, has built commercial buildings at the city’s Millennium Centre, including Lowes, Best Buy and Toys ‘R’ Us, and has completed residential projects in Timmins and Montreal. The residential development, the company said, would be part of the Millennium Centre, adding a residential component to the huge commercial development.
Planning committee members backed the recommendation from city staff, which imposes 43 stipulations on the company as they proceed with the development.
The company plans on building a major new road, Silver Hills Drive, which would connect to The Kingsway on one end, and the corner of Bancroft and Bellevue Avenue on the other. The developer is required to design a modern roundabout at the intersection of Bancroft and Bellevue in an attempt to calm traffic and ensure it flows smoothly.
If a roundabout is not feasible, the company will be required to install conventional traffic signals with appropriate turn lanes.
The agreement with the city includes significant improvements to Blueberry Hill, a pedestrian-bicycle trail, bike lanes on the proposed road, a large neighbourhood park and several potential tot lot, or playground, locations. Furthermore, sidewalks would be put in on both sides of the new road, according to Steve Vaccaro and Celia Teale, spokespeople for ARG DEVCO.
A three-metre wide, two-way paved bike path will be built behind the sidewalk along the entire east side of Silver Hills Drive, and because the development includes two cul-de-sacs located off of that road, it would mean cyclists wouldn't have to cross any driveways while on that path.
In terms of Blueberry Hill, the proposal includes lookout platforms, signage, interpretive plaques and maps. The existing trail at the north end of Blueberry Hill would be realigned and improved with a wood-chip surface, while plantings and fixed seating/benches would also be provided.
A 10-foot wide trail that would accommodate pedestrians and bikes would be located to the south of Carmichael Arena that would be surfaced with crushed stone.
Adding to the appeal of the project, the developer will upfront the entire cost of the road, planning committee heard, with the company recouping some of those costs through future development fees.
The trails, combined with the fact this is the first new development in the city that will see the creation of a new major road, is what prompted the committee to give the proposal the thumbs up.
Ward 7 Coun. Dave Kilgour, who chairs the planning committee, said the city, and especially council, needs to start working together to alleviate the fact it does not have the finances to accomplish all of the projects it needs to do. This is a problem that is not limited only to Sudbury; in fact, it's a problem every city across the country faces.
“The cities in this country get eight per cent of the total tax dollars, and it's not enough,” he said. “We have to start addressing this situation and stop laying the blame on the developers, council and taxpayers of Sudbury.
“For the first time in a development, we're seeing almost a smart community where jobs will be created, sustainable mobility through the development of bike paths and walking trails, as well as playgrounds will be realized, and it will provide for the ability for a community to eat, work and sleep all within a very short distance.
“I hope this provides a direction for other developers who come to this table that they might have a little bit easier time moving things forward if they incorporate these kinds of ideas into their subdivisions.”
Ward 8 Coun. Fabio Belli called the development a “great thing for our community,” and said he anticipates $3 million to $4 million per year in new revenue to the city through property taxes, not to mention “more than $100 million-plus in construction costs.”
“We hear that Sudbury is in a booming stage, with 4,000 to 5,000 new jobs in the community over the next three to four years,” he said. “We need this kind of growth.”
The developer is paying 100 per cent to build the new road, he added, “and while residents are right in saying it won't solve all of our problems, it's definitely going to help. We have a lot of things happening in this community, and if we don't start moving on them, we're basically going to miss the boat.”
The majority of the meeting gave way to allow residents to speak to their approval or disapproval of the project. The majority of speakers said they were in favour of the development as a whole, but they were mostly concerned about the road and the increased traffic it would bring to the neighbourhood.
The first two residents to speak to the development were actually in favour of it.
Pierre Perreault said it is difficult to find apartments for rent in Minnow Lake, and there are many social service agencies in that ward that are in need of volunteers. Bringing in new residents will go a long way in filling that need, and it will bring in new businesses that would want to service the area, in turn, creating new employment opportunities.
On the other hand, Tracey Toivonen, a resident of Bellevue, said her family has lived in the area for about 60 years. She said on the corner by her house, it is already difficult to get onto the road from her driveway during rush hour, and by connecting the road to the shopping area, it is only going to create even more traffic flow.
“It's a terrible plan, really; you're driving out the people who live there, and you're not thinking about their lives and the effect this will have on them.”
Teale said in the final appeal to the planning committee that the Silver Hills Subdivision is the only development in the city that is actually building infrastructure with the new north-south collector road.
“Each new home built is not only a roof over the head of a family, but it provides jobs and significant dollars in taxes, fees and levies for all levels of government,” she said. “It is only through growth that we will be able to foster and diversify as a strong northern community. All emotion aside, say yes for all the benefits we have to garner through developments and the creation of new neighbourhoods.
“This proposal is based on very sound planning principles and offers a tremendous amount of benefits. There are enough checks in place, we believe, with all the conditions that have been proposed that we can alleviate many of the concerns of residents.”
The proposal has been a work in progress for two years and has been revised and fine tuned a number of times, Teale said. It includes input garnered through consultations with city staff and the public.
“We started at the grass roots of planning by identifying the goals of the Minnow Lake Community Improvement Plan established in 1991. We used those guiding principles and came up with a plan that will improve and enhance Blueberry Hill as a focal point for Minnow Lake.”
Posted by Mark Gentili