By Chris Pickup

Haldimand council in committee last week approved 7-0 an amendment to the County Official Plan to facilitate the Gateway Commercial plan of subdivision in Caledonia, but not without tippy-toeing round the elephant in the room.

“Who has been notified?” Bernie Corbett asked in a not-so-subtle nod at the McKenzie Meadows situation. “All of a sudden someone shows up. Has everyone been notified?”

Indeed they have according to County Planner Alicia West. “All indigenous communities have been notified“ as well as other authorities such as the MNR.

“It’s a great proposed development,” said councillor Stew Patterson, but he also was “concerned for developers and people buying homes,” questioning whether to step back or go full steam ahead.

Dan Lawrence finds the development “pretty exciting,” especially the connections to the trails system, but was concerned about schooling. “It’s out of our hands,” he said.

A new school is in the plans in the Avalon community but things have stalled at the provincial level because the education ministry treats Haldimand schools as one unit for the purposes of student space, regardless of the distances between them.

So while Caledonia schools are bursting beyond the seams and then some, the provincial poobahs point to schools such as JLM in Cayuga which has lots of space to spare.

However, the school board has applied for funding and will continue to apply until it is granted.

Another concern for Lawrence was traffic. He noted there have already been fatalities at Hwy. 6 and 66, and wondered whether work on turn lanes, etc. at the intersection could be speeded up and implemented before development.

Stephen Armstrong of Empire noted they have already signed off on the MTO and would be happy to expedite the process.

“All immediate neighbours have been notified,” of the development he said and the one concern for trees has become a non-issue. “We can save it”, he said.

“We’re in the final stages of archaeological assessments and both indigenous communities are on site every day.”

The Gateway Commercial project, located at the southwest corner of Argyle Street and Haldimand County 66, will consist of a total maximum of 1255 mixed residential units, 130,000 sq. ft. of commercial space and approx 47 acres of park and open space. There will be two stormwater management ponds integrated with the greenspace.

Commercial uses are expected to include a supermarket, 6 mixed use buildings and a public square suitable for gathering and general use.