ERIN – The town is inching closer to a long-awaited decision on how community growth will be managed over the next 20 years and beyond.
On June 18 town council received an update on the growth management strategy being developed by Dillon Consulting and Watson and Associates Economists.
The study is one of several that will advise council on how to plan, service and finance residential and business growth in Hillsburgh and Erin village, guiding changes to the town’s official plan. A preferred scenario and phasing plan is expected in August, with a decision and final report in the fall.
Erin’s urban population is expected to grow by between 7,000 to 10,040 residents by 2041 (up from about 4,415 residents today). Council must determine the appropriate amount of population growth for both urban areas, where exactly it should go and when it should be phased in.
There has been a community growth survey, stakeholder meetings, steering committee participation, social media posts and information distributed through a newsletter and advertising. More details are available at erin.ca/growth-strategy.
The growth survey had 211 respondents by June 12, with most being neutral or happy about future growth prospects. Erin village was slightly favoured for residential and employment growth, and most people hoped that in 2041, the Town of Erin would be considered a “vibrant small town.”
The consultants have been analyzing blocks of land that could theoretically be developed, and the constraints that exist. There are intensification areas, which already have some development, and “greenfield” areas without current development. Both have provincial density targets.
Some sections under the authority of Credit Valley Conservation, as well as buffer lands near natural areas, will be subject to environmental impact studies.
Michelle McCarthy, project manager for the growth study, said up to three growth scenarios would be created, taking account of the allocation, feasibility and cost of servicing.
“These will reflect realistic location options for how and where the town can grow, and they will rely on the 2041 population, housing and employment forecast,” she said, noting urban growth is expected to be at the high end of the 7,000 to 10,040 range.
She said the supply of designated residential land is expected to exceed the demand until 2041.
One of the key goals of the town’s new strategic plan is: “Well-managed and environmentally sustainable growth, through the realization of the proposed wastewater servicing system needed to support an enviable, livable and flourishing future.”
Related studies include the wastewater environmental assessment (EA), still under provincial review. There will be just one wastewater treatment plant, downstream of Erin village. It is envisioned to serve Hillsburgh as well, but the phasing will depend on where development is allowed to proceed.
In 2014, consultant Matt Pearson, who was leading the Servicing and Settlement Master Plan (SSMP), repeatedly urged town council to decide exactly where new homes and businesses could be built, and how many should be allowed. Those decisions have always been deferred.
The water EA is also crucial to the process. There are plans to develop a new municipal well in each of the urban areas, but not necessarily bring them both into service at the same time, depending on development phasing.
As well, the parks and recreation master plan will determine the location of new facilities, based on development patterns.