The historic debate over how to protect the fragile environment of North Aldershot while still permitting development took another step forward Wednesday during an on-line public meeting sponsored by the Region of Halton.
“The biggest issue that I noticed was the concern about opening up North Aldershot for development” commented Ward One Councillor Kelvin Galbaith after the meeting.
The meeting was part of the Region’s long-awaited review of its official plan for North Aldershot. The area is currently governed by a mid-90s document referred to as the North Aldershot Interagency Review.
“It’s recognized that it was a great piece of work at that time but we do think it is out of date and doesn’t reflect the current provincial thinking with respect to Natural Heritage Systems which are a key element of the review we’re undertaking at the present time” said Meridian Planning Consultant Nick McDonald.
According to Councillor Galbraith “There is an expectation that there will be some development but the main concern is how much and where. It was evident that any development will need to respect the large-scale limitations of the area”
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. In addition, the Region uses a Natural Heritage System to further protect sensitive areas such as the escarpment and the Grindstone Creek.
“We aim to protect these features holistically as a system recognizing that they are interdependent and provide services such as clean water, clean air” said Senior Planner Leilani Lee-Yates.
The complexity of integrating new development into such a unique environment was succinctly summarized by Senior Planner Steve Burke who said: “Really, the options are to expand the urban area to include North Aldershot, to identify it as primarily agricultural area or to identify it as a rural area. Those really are the options”
Regional planners explained the many challenges of North Aldershot during a 40-slide presentation and then responded to two dozen questions that were submitted on-line. Most of the questions related to the environment or development.
Consultant McDonald made it clear that, despite the importance of protecting the sensitive environment, change is coming to the area. ”The Region has to plan for a minimum density that would greatly exceed what may have been anticipated in 1994 in North Aldershot ……… That minimum density is required to support the development of a complete community with a whole host of services, a wide range of housing types and community uses”. He added however that no decisions have been made yet.
Community inquiries about the North Aldershot Official Plan review may be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 311. An on-line questionnaire about North Aldershot can be accessed at halton.ca/ropr .
Story by Rick Craven