Notes on LPAT Settlement Hearing for the proposed development at 66 Main Street in Schomberg

Nov 23, 2020

By Mary Asselstine

On October 21, I sat in on the LPAT Settlement Hearing for the proposed development at 66 Main Street in Schomberg.  This proposal has been under consideration for several years.  The first proposal was to demolish the heritage home and construct 32 townhomes on an approximately 3 acre site which is heavily treed and has a tributary of the Schomberg River running through it.  This proposal was not acceptable to the Township Planning staff or the community.  Concerns included protection of the streetscape and heritage structure, compatibility with the adjacent neighbourhood, lack of adequate parking, traffic issues on Main Street, protection of significant trees and habitats, and intrusions into the floodplain and stream corridor of the river.  Through several iterations and hard work from the Township Planners many of these concerns were addressed at least in part.  The development now includes the following features:

  • The Township of King Council designated the existing home as a heritage structure under the Ontario Heritage Act.  Because of that the structure is now protected and with the exception of the road to access to the townhomes, the streetscape is largely protected.  There is a proposal to rezone the heritage structure from residential to mixed use to allow for commercial uses. 
  • The neighbourhood most impacted by this development is to the east of the property where there are two bungalows.  To address this impact the height of the homes adjacent to the bungalows was reduced from 11 m to 9.5 m.  That is still a significant height difference but the proposal also includes the protection of an existing cedar hedgerow that provides some privacy. 
  • Parking was increased from the original design allowing for 4 spaces for the larger units, 2 spaces for the smaller units and 10 visitor parking spots.  It should be noted that half of these spaces are in garages (which we know are generally used for storage and not parking).
  • Because the Traffic Report indicated that the increased traffic could be handled at the intersection there was apparently no attempt to deal with the predicted increase in traffic and the associated safety issues given the proximately of the school.  It should also be noted that the driveway for the site is only about 50 m from the intersection and also comes within 1.2 m of the heritage structure. 
  • It appears from the site plan that most trees will be removed from the property except for those in the flood plain/stream corridor. A few that are along Main Street are protected because of the heritage building (at least until a site plan is considered for the future commercial use) and the hedgerow along the east property line is also protected.  Detailed information was not available to precisely determine how many trees will remain or will be removed.  Any existing habitats will be severely compromised.
  • Although the townhomes and parking spaces will not be located in the flood plain, the west end of the proposed road extends into the floodplain by several meters.  From the site plan, it looks like the intrusion is a much as 12 m plus grading.  Apparently the developer has satisfied the Conservation Authority through a cut and fill proposal and through engineering that demonstrated that the intrusion will not impact flooding beyond the limits of the property.

I can definitely say that some very good things happened with this proposal. However, two significant questions remain for me:

  • Traffic – Although the Traffic Report indicates that the intersection can handle the increased traffic, it also indicates that the traffic will increase, especially commuter traffic in the morning and evening.  The Schomberg Community Plan (OP) provided for the future development of 66 Main Street with a road link to the north across from Rice Drive.  The property for this road link is owned by the Township of King and would take the access and egress from the site far from Main Street and the intersection.  As much as this option was pointed out there was no clear explanation of why this could not happen.  I believe that the streetscape and the traffic issues on Main Street will suffer because of this decision.
  • Floodplain – Why would the Conservation Authority consider the intrusion into the floodplain and stream corridor?  Their own policies are unfortunately silent with regard to this type of road intrusion. However, it seems to me that the objective of protecting the watercourse and recognizing the future impacts of climate change on flooding should have over-ridden the engineering approach to a resolution.  This decision was very disappointing.

Probably the most frustrating part of being involved with this proposal was that the community was left out of the detailed negotiations that went on behind the scenes.  The Township made some efforts to provide some information but even that was guarded. Being involved in the LPAT hearing did not give us a seat at the table.  Somehow the planning process needs to change so that communities can have meaningful input to development through the whole planning process.