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Councillor - Town of Blue Mountains

The proposed Thornbury Telfer development and what you should know

If you don’t know by now, an “uncharacteristic” leasehold townhouse residential development has been proposed in isolation on a 10.8 acre abandoned orchard property located at the southeast corner of Napier Street West and Victoria Street, in the south west extremity of the old town of Thornbury.

The proposal will consist of 97 units built in 17 blocks of four to six units. The townhouse units will only have one bedroom and contain approximately 1,200 sq. ft. above grade (no basement but a crawl space). The land will be owned and operated by the developer. The townhouse units will be individually owned but owners will lease the land from the developer for a 21 year period. The development will also include a clubhouse and an indoor pool.

The developer is promoting this proposal as an “Adult Lifestyle Community” with an expected and what they say is, an “affordable” price range starting at $250,000 per unit (you be the judge).

In order to provide for this so-called “aging in place” development, the developer wants the town to provide a zoning by-law amendment to allow for this medium density development and to provide a blanket consent to allow 21 year leases on these units. In addition, the developer wants an Official Plan Amendment that would provide for a reduction in the rear-yard setbacks and an increase in lot coverage. Finally, to make the development more profitable, the developer wants relief from the development charges that are now in place and required for important infrastructure needs of the community. If they don’t pay, then you and I will pay for them.

Does this sound like a good planning proposal to you? There are over a 100 taxpayers and residents in this neighbourhood and throughout the town who don’t think so. They are “aghast” that the town would even consider a proposal like this – one that is truly out of character with the neighbourhood and the town and does not promote a “Sense of Place”, which is the theme of our current Official Plan. There are certainly many more negative impacts on the neighbourhood which I haven’t touched on, but I think it’s easy to draw the conclusion as one owner eloquently states – “might this development and many more turn from a field of dreams to a field of schemes”.

This brings me to one of the town’s ultimate needs – a more Sustainable Path involving a master plan for servicing and development in this town. The people are now questioning the town’s existing open-door approach to planning and development. It’s time to examine all the vacant land in both the south and west ends of town and develop a master plan that provides connectivity and more
viable neighbourhoods (for families, seniors and young adults) or a series of secondary plans that would be acceptable to the community. Let’s put ourselves in the position where the town tells the developers – “here is what we envision as responsible planning and development for our town and we will assist wherever possible to help encourage this type of development”.

If you want to know more about this proposed development and the impact it may have on the surrounding neighbourhood, I suggest that you visit the town web site and view the details under Planning and Development Projects. Special attention should be given to the Urban Design Peer Review. If you want more of my opinion, do not hesitate to email me at mpseguin@rogers.com.

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