With many of us still braving the malls and the roads rushing out to get the last of the Christmas presents for under the tree, our thoughts arent usually on things like “intesification” of Main Street. It is important to know that town council will be reviewing a study on how a large portion of our town will look in the coming years.
I know I havent really talked about it here, other milton bloggers like Jennifer Smith, have taken up that cause, but here is a news story from Tim Foran at the Milton Canadian Champion outlining what the study might find and what the next steps are.
Being at one of the town meetings on this, I have to echo the comments from some of the councillors including the Mayor when we ask “HOW are we going to pay for all of this?” The provincial government has come up with guidelines for growth and the town is responsible for getting us there. The province wants it done by a certain time, but the thing that will drive the debate is cost!
Intensification strategy to go before council in January
By Tim Foran, Metroland West Media Group
An intensification strategy outlining which of Milton’s numerous strip malls, parking lots and low-density commercial and industrial properties are prime spots for offices and condominiums is expected to go before councillors for approval next month. The strategy is the result of the Town’s intensification and infill study, which was received for information by council recently.
According to materials prepared by Meridian Planning Consultants, hired by the Town to do the study, most of the growth would be accommodated in what the Province has designated as Milton’s urban growth centre (UGC), one of 25 such areas in the GTA. This UGC generally straddles Main Street between Martin Street and Thompson Road, but also dips south to include the industrial land along Nipissing Road. The strip of Main between Ontario and Thompson, around the GO train station, is a prime candidate for future intensification, according to the consultant’s materials.
Meridian’s Nick McDonald told the Town’s planning committee at a recent meeting Milton’s UGC is unique in that it doesn’t encompass the historic downtown core. The UGC is about 135 hectares in size and must be planned to accommodate a density of 200 jobs and residents combined per hectare, equivalent to about 27,360 people, according to Provincial legislation. On paper, Milton’s 1997 Official Plan already allows for a density of 170 in the area, but the reality of what exists on the ground is far different. Currently, the UGC has only 7,300 people and jobs in an area characterized by low-density commercial units, vacant lots, light industrial buildings, and large surface parking lots.
“All we can do is plan and encourage and provide (allowances),” McDonald told the committee when questioned on the likelihood of being able to meet the intensification targets. “We can’t build, we can’t compel anybody to build.”
While the UGC is expected to be the centre of Milton’s intensification, the Town’s consultant has also identified 187 hectares of potential intensification sites in other areas of the town, mostly concentrated along Bronte and Ontario Streets and Steeles Avenue. About 30 per cent of this area is currently designated for employment uses, leaving 70 per cent, or 144 hectares, for potential residential and mixed-use development. The consultant has identified less than three hectares of potential intensification sites in Milton’s historic downtown core.
Town Planning Director Bill Mann has previously said he’d like to see employee-intensive offices included in the plan rather than just residential condominiums. Indeed, at this point, the Town is only planning to add 5,300 residential units — about 12,500 people — within its entire built boundary, an area generally bounded by the borders of the town as of 2006. The majority of those people could be housed in the UGC, according to the consultant’s materials. That’s a small percentage of the new residents Milton is expecting over the next 22 years. Current municipal plans project the community’s population to jump from the 85,000 it’s at now to 238,000 by 2031.
Of that amount:
• About 27,500 people are still to come over the next few years to the Bristol and Sherwood Survey areas that have been under construction for much of the past decade.
• Another 50,000 people would be housed in the Boyne Survey area, which is the area of land south of Louis St. Laurent Boulevard to Britannia Road, between Tremaine Road to the west and James Snow Parkway to the east. The Boyne, Bristol and Sherwood Survey areas were the three phases of residential growth identified in Milton’s 1997 Official Plan.
• Between 2021 and 2031, Town and Regional plans currently identify another 63,000 people to be housed in future residential areas to the east and south of the town. This new growth would see urban Milton extend close to the borders of Mississauga and Oakville.
Tim Foran can be reached at email@example.com