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Preferred route - Option C1, above, in the proposed alternatives for a Colborne Street realignment, runs parallel to the Nichol Drain. For additional information click here.
New option touted as preferred plan for Colborne Street realignment
by Mike Robinson
With a choice of several options already before them, an eighth is being touted as the best option to realign Colborne Street between Elora and Fergus.
An Oct. 2 public information centre at the Fergus sportsplex drew local residents in from the meeting’s 5pm start.
R.J. Burnside engineer Lorena Niemi, speaking on behalf of Sorbara Development Corp., explained the open house is one part of the environmental assessment process for the Colborne Street realignment and the North West Fergus Secondary Plan.
The realignment is part of an overall proposal by Sorbara which includes a 1,200-home subdivision located to the north of a new Centre Wellington hospital, the recently-built OPP station, the new administration and archives building and the nearby nursing home.
The development was first proposed in 2007 and 2008 by Sorbara, which held three public meetings at that time to begin a class environmental assessment for the realignment of Colborne Street. Late in 2008 the development was put on hold because of the provincial Places to Grow legislation and its impact on the county’s secondary plan.
Since that time, the county has developed a land use plan for Wellington Place, which is across Colborne to the south. Consequently, Sorbara is restarting its secondary plan. The land is designated as future residential in the township’s official plan.
Sorbara will finalize its land use plan and subdivision plan for the development only after the environmental assessment and realignment design is complete. Niemi said at the first public information centre a number of alternative routes were presented. In this second public information centre, a preferred alternative was on the boards.
She said the intent is to deal with the curves along Colborne Street immediately to the west of the North West Secondary Plan area.
Niemi added there is also a need to develop a collector route to Colborne Street to facilitate traffic within the area.
“From the preliminary analysis, a preferred alternative was chosen to connect with the north-south collector road in the planning area,” Niemi said.
The choice of new Option “C1,” Niemi explained, is based on preliminary assessments on environmental impacts, transportation, socio-economic factors, plus the engineering and economic environment.
“Basically, we’ve analyzed each of the alternatives (Options A through G) as they relate to evaluation criteria,” she said.
Niemi noted Option C1 came in as the preferred option in two of the four categories - specifically the impact to natural environment and to social and cultural impacts.
From an environmental perspective, she explained, officials looked at impacts on wildlife, impacts on vegetation and various (wildlife) corridors, and site impacts.
She noted some of the proposed alternatives had the realignment road extend beyond the secondary planning area, which would have an environmental impact on agricultural areas.
One proposal also was located near an existing woodlot and adjacent wetland. Other alternatives had two crossings of the Nichol Drain, which was also seen as being negative in terms of the wildlife corridor.
Also considered was noise, safety and air quality as it relates to the local trail system.
Niemi called C1 essentially a variation of Option C, which creates no impacts outside the development lands.
“What is different, is that C1 provides for a more efficient use of the land,” she said.
She noted the original Option C separated the southwest corner of the land from the rest of the neighbourhood to be developed.
“We opened up a lot more space by developing Option C1 parallel to the Nichol Drain and allowing more space for more efficient land use,” said Niemi.
She noted items designated as local road connections would be those within the proposed subdivision area.
One of those would be a connection to Millage Lane.
But she stressed the primary purpose is the realignment of Colborne Street and the impacts to the north-south collector road. She suggested that if the collector road connects to Millage, “ultimately, there would be streetlights there.”
Niemi said that part of the study included traffic impacts.
Two proposals had looked at directly connecting Colborne to Garafraxa Street, “But that was seen as a potential negative impact at the crossing points.”
She said another proposed option had connected Colborne Street to an existing residential road.
“It too was seen as a negative because it added traffic to local neighbourhoods which would not typically have seen that traffic,” Niemi said.
She said many of the citizen responses focused on pedestrian and cyclist safety along the existing roadways, especially Garafraxa, as well as impacts on the trail system.
She also said issues were also brought up regarding access to existing driveways.
Niemi said comment sheets will be reviewed and the preferred alternatives would be reassessed.
“Moving ahead, we will forward various reports to support the secondary plan area.”
She said both Centre Wellington and Wellington County will review those reports, then a statutory public meeting regarding the secondary plan would be held next year.
“It is still ongoing,” said Niemi.
Centre Wellington township planner Brett Salmon said the meeting was arranged by the developer’s engineering consultants and they are the ones that were answering questions, collecting the comment sheets and recording the number of attendees.
Salmon noted that while he did not stay for the entire meeting, he estimated by the time he left about 40 people had signed in. That was about the same number which attended the previous public information centre in June.
“For this type of meeting that is probably more than we’d usually see,” Salmon said.
Additional information is posted on Centre Wellington’s website under the planning department section relating to special projects.
Vol 45 Issue 41
October 12, 2012
The Wellington Advertiser
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