Density increase in latest Trafalgar Road development proposal irks some residents

HILLSBURGH – A revised development plan for a major Hillsburgh subdivision has some residents irked by an increase in density.

A mixed housing development on 129 acres on Trafalgar Road in south Hillsburgh is being proposed by Markham-based developer Ballantry Homes, a subsidiary of Beachcroft Investments.

Residents heard about previous iterations of the subdivision at meetings in May and June last year, collectively attended by roughly 75 people.

Concerns have largely revolved around traffic, the environment, infrastructure, a reluctance to change, parking, snow removal and desires to see density reduced with a focus on senior-suitable housing.

But what was originally proposed to be 799 units has since increased by almost 17 per cent to 933 units.

The net increase of 134 units comes from the removal of some types of housing, and the addition of others aimed at seniors.

There’s a total reduction of 136 single detached homes and townhomes from what was originally proposed, and an addition of 188 mixed-use seniors and 83 low-rise seniors units.

Other changes in the latest plan include more park space, walkways between residential blocks, storm water ponds rather than tanks, a street no longer extends to Ross R. MacKay Public School, and a new location for a future water tower.

*Drag slider below to compare original and revised subdivision concepts

With an average of 2.7 people per residence in Hillsburgh, according to 2021 census data, there would be an additional 2,519 residents moving into Hillsburgh – tripling the village’s population to 3,671 people, once the development is fully built out over the next decade.

A public meeting for a rezoning application was held at the Hillsburgh arena on the evening of May 9, with around 45 residents in attendance.

The meeting followed council’s April amendment of the town’s official plan to redesignate the land.

Several residents posed specific questions about their concerns, be it dust control, roads, traffic, increased density, or water impacts – to name some.

Standing at a mic and reading from prepared comments, resident Karen DeRooy, who has been outspoken against the proposed development at other meetings, urged council not to kowtow to the “demand of influential developers.”

The self-described proud community member said the newest iteration of the plan “is even worse than the first one” and said council has an opportunity “to do better by the residents of Erin” by denying the developer’s rezoning request.

Her concerns were many, including traffic management, infrastructure and responsible growth.

“Enough is enough, it’s time to put an end to developers dictating the vision of our town,” she said to much applause.

Speaking on behalf of Beachcroft Investments, Maurizio Rogato of Blackthorn Development said revisions to the plan are “extensive” and consider comments and feedback from local politicians, residents and formal commenting agencies.

Rogato added the latest plan reflects a complete mixed-use community.

Councillor Cathy Aylard questioned the rationale for increasing density.

Rogato said they had to take a guess in the original plans without details about the roughly six acres that had been set aside for mixed use and senior-focused housing.

“That’s why you’re seeing a difference in the number of units,” he said.

A report with a recommendation on the rezoning will be presented to council in the future for its consideration. The town did not say when that recommendation is expected.

In addition to the zoning changes sought by the developer, there are also proposed amendments to the county’s Official Plan to accommodate the development, as well as a draft plan of subdivision submitted.