By Chris Pickup

The pace  and density of development that has shaken up Caledonia residents to date Is nothing compared to what’s probably coming down the pike.

Haldimand is now facing the massive work of updating the county’s Official Plan to meet provincial requirements of 20,000 new persons and jobs in Haldimand over the next 20 years and a density of 46 persons/jobs per hectare. 

Matt Reniers of Matt Reniers and Associates has been retained as project consultant. He will lead all aspects of the development, coordination and implementation of the Official Plan Update and growth management strategy. Other consultants will be brought in as required for specific tasks such as natural heritage studies.

Reniers made his first public appearance in a public meeting at council in committee Tuesday  at the official kick-off of phase 1 of the exercise, dealing with Growth Plan Conformity,

Phase 1 focus is on growth-related policies for the county’s six urban areas, aligning boundaries with market demand and servicing, setting density targets, and reviewing employment areas. 

Jarvis and Townsend will likely see de-designation or freeze of surplus urban lands.

Also to be considered are the potential conversion of the Marshall Business Park in Dunnville and undermined Georgia Pacific lands in Caledonia to mixed-use, residential or recreation.

Given the proliferation of prime farmland throughout rural Haldimand, and the county’s virtually static population over the years, Caledonia’s proximity to Hamilton and 400 series highways, and its position as a gateway on hwy, 6 makes it the inevitable place to pull in development expansion for commercial, industrial and residential purposes.

Two submissions have already been received from Armstrong Planning and Project Development (Empire) dealing with boundary expansions for Caledonia and Hagersville where  Empire has already made significant development inroads. Another is from Urban in Mind – a planning justification report for Caledonia’s Settlement area expansion.

Other submissions are for Springvale hamlet boundary expansion, some agricultural designated  lands to be possibly re-designated for resort residential, development within the township of South Cayuga and parkland and trail development.

This phase will also look at updating and formalizing a long-term water servicing strategy including extension of water service from Nanticoke to Caledonia, verifying potential customers outside of Haldimand and updated costing.

Draft amendments are expected to come before council in June. 

Councillor Bernie Corbett had a number of questions. He asked what is meant by ‘affordable housing’. “Does that mean small houses?” 

Reniers noted they will be working with social housing, and that it will be related to income range. It could be townhouses or apartments, maybe single attached housing smaller than the average house.

Corbett also wanted clarification on expansion of hamlets and was told they will definitely be looking at it, related to urban areas.

Finally, Corbett asked about possible expansion of water and sewer in the Dunnville area. Reniers carefully noted there is very active development operating on a large scale in Caledonia, bringing a large number of units together at one time. “I don’t know if Dunnville has that.”

On the employment front, a local farmer floated the concept of farmers and rural residents getting more access to secondary income through in-home businesses, and increasing the amount of allowable space in home (presently 10%) and the number of allowable employees (presently only one). 

This would not necessarily lead to increased traffic, he said, because a lot of businesses could be Internet based,

Watch the county website for information and public meetings. If you cannot attend a meeting, the county says it will welcome submissions online or by mail.

Phase 2 is the general Official Plan Update with amendments before council in the fall of 2021.

Public consultation will be an integral components of both phases.