Holding zone removed by township on portion of Pearle Hospitality lands in Elora

ELORA – The holding zone has been removed from a portion of Pearle Hospitality lands, paving the way for future development on the south side of the Grand River here.

On Aug. 22, Centre Wellington council endorsed the heritage impact study for the proposed South Elora Condominium development and passed a site plan control bylaw, which led to the removal of the holding zone on a portion of the land at 6523 Wellington Road 7. 

“The removal of the holding zone is needed to allow the completion of site plan approval and ultimately an application for a building permit to allow the construction of an apartment building,” stated Brett Salmon, township managing director of planning and development, in a report to council. 

Brian Blackmere, planner and project manager for Pearle Hospitality, also made a presentation at the meeting, describing recent changes to the condominium and hotel plans across the river from the Elora Mill.

The updated plans include a U-shaped condominium development to the west and hotel to the east, separated by a shared pool. Future plans also include a pedestrian promenade with retail space on the ground floor and office or banquet space above, Blackmere explained.

Front view – This rendering illustrates the view of the proposed Hospitality condo development from Wellington Road 7. Submitted image

The development will eventually include a public square at the connection with the township pedestrian bridge at Victoria Street. 

The condominiums will be five storeys high on Wellington Road 7, but  seven storeys on the river side, including a row of two-storey townhouses facing the river.

The height of the building meets the 18m maximum requirement under the bylaw, which is measured from the Wellington Road 7 side, Blackmere explained. 

“The condominium building, as presented, it’s in compliance with your zoning bylaw and site specific zoning that was put on the site back in 2013,”  he said.

The building is set back  about 7.5m from the river. 

“What the pedestrian will see on the trail system is primarily the two storey townhouses, that was the intent, so stepping back the building and the intervening courtyard really breaks up the presentation of that building to the river,” Blackmere said. 

“And the colour pallets are going to be very similar to what you see on West Mill Street with the completed Elora Mill buildings.”

Councillor Stephen Kitras asked for 3D imaging of the development. 

“When they’re on flat paper like that they’ve been Photoshopped and everything, you don’t get an understanding of the volume and the scale of what’s happening,” he said. 

“What’s the impact of the scale on the neighbouring properties that are heritage properties?”

Kitras said that information is required to make a decision on the Pearle development. 

“How do we get a sense of the size of it all in terms of [the] perspective with what the mill is and the rest of those small little houses,” Kitras continued. “There’s some scale drawings but it doesn’t say.

“I didn’t see a distance and what the shadowing would be.”

Blackmere said the colour renderings are the best option for seeing scale and he noted a shadow study for the condominium has been completed, showing the impacts on adjacent properties. It  was presented at the heritage committee meeting. 

Heritage River Retirement Residence owner Bob Cameron appeared as a delegation at the meeting and spoke in favour of the Pearle development. 

“People are easy to say, ‘Oh people make lots of money,’ and profit’s a dirty word,” he said. “Well it’s not.

“I estimate the south side alone is over $200 million in investments.”

He said labour is usually about half of that cost. 

“One hundred million in labour, divide that by the number of jobs that’s going to be created during the two-year construction process or longer,” Cameron said. “That’s jobs that our local people can have.

“That doesn’t include the jobs that are going to be created by the new commercial space and by the long-term development of this.”

He added he sits on the economic development committee and one of the common topics is how to create jobs and not become a bedroom community. 

“This project is a great one to develop jobs,” he said.

Council approved the holding zone removal for a portion of the Pearle Hospitality development on the south side of the river. 

“This project isn’t a decade, this is a hundred-year project,” Cameron said. 

“Somebody’s going to look back 20 years from now, 50 years from now and say, ‘Who were the councillors and who were the staff that took the lead to develop this project and partnership?’

“I hope it’s this council.”