By Chris Pickup

The McClung South (Empire) residential development In the north east quadrant of Caledonia between Park Street and Avalon has been approved by Haldimand county, but councillors are unhappy with its density.

Consistent with the Avalon subdivision, it will have a maximum buildout of 163 dwelling units …  a mix of detached, semi-detached  and townhouses. It will also have a parkette, stormwater management pond and naturalized open space (part of the Seneca Creek valley system with prohibited site alteration) which the county will own and maintain.

The new subdivision will be separated from the abutting older established residential subdivision by deadending Seneca and Cayuga streets and prohibiting connections to those streets except for emergency vehicles.

Signalization at Caithness and McClung will control traffic flow.

Coun. Bernie Corbett asked about affordable housing but was told there is none since this is a market driven development.

Corbett was horrified at the density and likely resulting congestion. 

“I don’t like this, I wouldn’t want it for my community (Dunnville),” he said, referring to the lot frontages which are compressed from the former norm of 12 m down to 8 m. with interior lots of 220 sq.m.

I see what’s happening in Caledonia. Do we want this?” he asked.

But, “It’s coming”, interjected mayor Ken Hewitt wryly. “You should be happy it’s McClung … Caledonia’s getting everything.”

Caledonia’s Dan Lawrence added Caledonia’s schools are bulging at the seams and “we can’t stop it”.

Staffer Mike Evers noted the new development is identical to Avalon and Jarvis Meadows. “High densities is the new norm across the province. The challenge in halting this is that it’s driven from the top down from provincial policy.” 

“In the past we’ve been desperate for someone to come in and develop“ Hewitt said. “The reality is Caledonia is the gateway to the GTA and will see growth. We work with developers. They’re not the densities we asked for, and certainly not what we’re used to. 

We’re trying to manage traffic and populations. Parks, rec centres are only going to be driven by that very growth.”

Lawrence remarked he is pro-development “but sardinean development?”

“Hagersville is on the cusp of the same thing,” added Tony Dalimonte. “But it’s a holistic effect. Businesses need people. We have to get across to the province to focus on communities and their various components such as social housing, commerce, seniors housing, etc.”

CAO Craig Manley explained the county is transitioning from slow growth. “Look at the growth.  Rate budgets were going up and up, and they’re now stabilized. There are going to be benefits and negatives … it’s reality.”

Staffer Mike Evers did note there’s maybe some small light on the horizon. There’s some indication municipalities in the outer ring may get permission to change provincial densities from 46 persons/jobs per hectare to 40.