by Chris Pickup
The seats were full at council chambers last Monday as one concerned resident after another protested aspects of the proposed Caledonia Beattie Homes development of some 700 homes between McKenzie Road and River Road
Residents had already expressed concerns during the previous daytime Feb 6 meeting around traffic volumes, the proposed location of the new arterial (ring) road, stormwater management, school capacity, emergency access across the Argyle St. Bridge, and the need for a new bridge at McClung road. Questions were also raised as to whether residents will even use the ring road since it would initially send them in a direction they didn’t wish to go.
The application was deferred to Monday’s Council meeting to allow working residents to have their say.
David Rogers, brought up a whole raft of issues. First off, he felt answers at the Feb 6 meeting were very vague, and many issues were missed or glazed over.
He noted there was no mention of the three natural gas lines surface buried at McKenzie road, and asked what Union Gas had to say about the torn up water and sewer lines, road widening, sidewalk and construction of at least one roundabout. He had spoken to a Mr. Gibson at Union Gas who said he was aware of the future subdivision but no written or meaningful correspondence had taken place.
With regard to the proposal to connect the road across Hydro right of way, Donovan Dockrill at Hydro told Rogers the best he knew no correspondence or application had crossed his desk. As to the huge pipelines buried six to seven feet at the far end of the hydro corridor, Rogers asked what Trans Canada people had to say about this proposal.
There had been considerable discussion of a line road leading south over Hwy. 6 to the 6th line. Rogers pointed out there were three main obstacles to that idea. The Douglas drain drains all lands from the previous Douglas estates, across Argyle, crossing McKenzie, making road building a monumental task. He challenged the county to try to put a road over the acres of swamp containing wildlife.
“Do you believe our indigenous neighbours will allow you to make this connection close to their land?” he asked.
Finally, the real elephant in the room – the Argyle Street Bridge.
“You are inviting people to purchase homes in a new subdivision, value half a million dollars and up, and join us in battling vehicle mayhem twice a day, day after day, week after week. Frustration, frayed nerves and mental stress will cause accidents and potential deaths. No-one in this room wants to see this.
“The application needs much more study and due diligence, with regard to education, services, construction of alternate routes, geological and archaeological reports, signed reports from Hydro, Trans Canada Pipelines, Bell, and fire and ambulance,” he concluded.
Councillor Grice said staff have to get all these things in place before it will be allowed to proceed, and the application will be coming back to council in a month’s time.
Rob Duncan noted the county’s Official Plan is overdue for updating and that a bridge at McClung needs to be in the plan to get approval if it was to happen at all.
He was cut off when he wandered off into musings for the future that had nothing specific to the development under discussion.
Greg Adams was concerned about the walkway under power lines backing up to people’s backyards, and how the access if not supervised could lead to crime. He wanted to know who will own the woodlot, whether it might be developed in the future. He also had concerns about kids holding bush parties there as happened in the past on the other side of town.
He noted the current development looks really cramped with little green space and asked is it livable. It’s getting away from downtown and the small town feeling, he felt.
Anthony di Girardo owns the farm to the south of the development. “I just about passed out when I saw the plans for the first time. Seven acres of my land will be taken, 10 percent of my land, and there is nothing about my farm on there. Is the road separate, I don’t see it on the map. I was shocked and confused, I had no notice.”
Hewitt noted it’s been the intent to develop Beattie farms for many years and he should hope it would not be a surprise to many.
Di Girardo fired back it wasn’t the development that was the surprise, but the road, 118 feet. And why is it on the south side of the urban boundary and not the north side? he asked. “If the developer wants the road he can put it on his property. I am happy with my farm as it is.”