Two properties benefit from short-lived boundary expansion

CENTRE WELLINGTON – The province’s decision to expand the urban boundary of Centre Wellington in April threw the township and Wellington County into confusion.

Its decision to reverse the expansion in October is having a similar result.

Municipal affairs and housing minister Paul Calandra has reached out to all the affected municipalities seeking their input before the reversal becomes law.

Centre Wellington council discussed on Nov. 27 what the change and reversal mean for the township.

Brett Salmon, managing director of planning and development, said there are two development projects advanced enough that they should move forward.

But in all other development applications, the township wants its urban boundary returned to what had been approved by county council in its Official Plan Amendment 119 – and not the urban boundary expansion imposed by the province in April.

Salmon said the two applications are the Fergus Golf Course application by Geranium Homes to build 118 estate homes near Belwood; and an employment conversion at 22 Park Road in Elora to allow for a grocery store. 

“These two have advanced far enough and planning approvals have been given, so they should remain,” Salmon advised council. 

“But the urban expansion, we believe should be reversed.”

Earlier in the meeting, Matthew Cory, a planner with Malon Given Parsons Ltd., made the case that Cache Development’s two properties on the east side of Irivine Street at Woolwich Street in Salem should be part of a future urban boundary expansion.

“We were included by the province and now we’ve been removed,” Cory said. 

“But there is a need for land in Elora and a boundary expansion. 

“If you include the subject lands, we can create a complete community.”

Cache recently was approved to develop a parcel of land on the southwest corner of the Irvine/Woolwich street intersection that is inside the current urban boundary. 

It will see 286 residential units split between single-detached and townhomes.

Cory noted the county is now continuing with its Municipal Comprehensive Review.

“When the county finishes the land needs assessment and the official plan review, our request is that you consider us in your comments,” he said. 

“This is the best location for settlement expansion. We just want to make you aware.”

Council did not comment on the delegation but did endorse a letter from Mayor Shawn Watters to Minister Calandra. 

In that letter, Watters points out “these urban boundary expansions were not part of OPA 119 as adopted by county council. 

“The province did not consult with or the advise county and local staff of these changes,” Watters writes.

“We applaud the Minister for his recognition that the April 11th decision was not made in a manner that maintains and reinforces public trust.”

Watters goes on to reiterate what Salmon had told council  that the Fergus Golf Course development near Belwood and the grocery store proposal at 22 Park Road in Elora should proceed.

“All (other) expansions to the Fergus and Elora-Salem Urban Centre boundaries should be reversed” the letter states.

“In no case have planning approvals been granted, no construction has begun and reversing these changes would not contravene provincial legislation or regulation.”

Salmon told council that township staff will also keep track of the extra expenses both changes have cost the township, as Calandra had also requested.