It’s a highly complex subject.
For the first time in over a quarter century, residents of North Aldershot are formally being asked to comment on future land uses in their unique and fragile neighbourhood.
The request comes from the Region of Halton which is focusing a lot of attention on North Aldershot as part of its current official plan review.
Residents have on-line access to a highly detailed 47 page background report prepared for community consultation. The report is meant to shed light on how changes in Provincial Policy may impact the area which has not been studied in detail since the North Aldershot Interagency Review (NAIR) in the mid 90’s.
According to the Region’s background report; “The North Aldershot Inter-agency Review NAIR was completed in 1994. Since then the Provincial Policy Framework has evolved significantly”.
In addition to the on-line report and questionnaire, which is to be completed by September 28, the Region is also planning a Zoom webinar at 7 pm on Wednesday, September 9th.
The background report makes it clear that at least some level of change is coming.
“The implications ….. on North Aldershot are significant and will require the preparation of a substantially different policy framework for the area….. North Aldershot will no longer be identified as having a distinct land use designation”.
Many North Aldershot residents have fought for decades to maintain the area’s special status as neither urban or rural with limited population. The Province however is projecting that Halton will grow to one million people by 2041 and one of the questions being debated is where all those people will live. How many will be allowed to build in North Aldershot?
The Region’s report does offer some assurance:
“The objectives of the North Aldershot review are to: Recognize and maintain the distinct and unique character of the area, provide for a limited amount of development while preserving significant natural areas, and maintain the predominantly rural and open space character”.
In addition, the report points out that the area is protected by a complicated web of overlapping policies aimed at protecting the land.
“75% of North Aldershot is subject to three provincial plans that place restrictions on the type of development that may occur. These are the Parkway Belt West Plan, the Niagara Escarpment Plan and the Greenbelt plan” and “30% of the land is owned by public agencies including the City, the Region and Conservation Halton”.
The report concludes: “Given the area’s significant environmental features and challenges providing water and wastewater services, opportunity for significant development is limited”.
But, development pressures continue to mount.
In the 90’s NAIR recommended that only 550 new homes eventually be built in the Central Sector of North Aldershot. That hasn’t happened. Instead, developer Paletta International is now proposing over 900 new homes in an application that has been ongoing for years.
Also, NAIR made it clear that Waterdown Road should not be widened, but Burlington City Council has joined with the City of Hamilton in a long-term plan to widen the road to at least three lanes and later, perhaps four.
Long time North Aldershot advocate Al Froggett believes that there are three main issues: development pressures, the widening of Waterdown Road and the need for sanitary sewers. “Everybody’s on septic. Septic (systems) do have a life. They only last so long”.
John Hubert, another defender of North Aldershot’s interests believes the greenspace issue is very important: “Keep it as natural as possible. We have a lot of good prospects with the greenspace, but there’s a lot of development pressures”.
Joan Wannop, who lives on Nevarc Drive, also wants sewers; “I would like sewers and I know my whole street would”.
All three think that most North Aldershot residents are unaware of the current official plan review process. According to Mr. Hubert “In general, I don’t think there’s enough information out there for everyone”.
To access the September 9th webinar call 1-855-703-8985 and use Meeting ID 955 3904 8081 with a Passcode of 221448.
The discussion document is here. https://www.halton.ca/Repository/North-Aldershot-Discussion-Paper
By Rick Craven