Description of Proposal
The applicant proposes to develop the lands with a residential plan of subdivision that is fully serviced with municipal piped water, sanitary sewers, and storm sewers. The applicant also seeks to amend the Official Plan and Zoning By-law in order to establish the necessary regulatory framework for a portion of the lands. The proposed Official Plan amendment would amend Schedule "A" of the Dawson Heights Community Plan to delete the "Urban Residential – Medium Low to High Density" designation and instead designate the lands as "Urban Residential –Low Density." The associated amendment to the Zoning By-law would rezone the same lands from the "R5" – Residential Future Zone to the "R1-H" – Residential One Zone - Holding to allow for the development of single detached dwellings. The remainder of the lands are already designated and zoned to permit low density residential development. The proposed development scheme is comprised of 59 lots for single detached dwellings with varying lot sizes.
The layout of the proposed plan is shown on Attachment "F" to this Report. With the amendment, the applicant's entire land holding would be designated "Urban Residential – Low Density" in the Dawson Heights Community Plan and zoned as "R1-H" Zone.
These lands once formed Stage 3 of the Silvertree Subdivision which was developed in the mid 1990’s. The developer at the time did not proceed with the Zoning Amendments or Draft Plan Subdivision Approval for Stage 3. The applicant, who recently purchased the property, is seeking to move ahead with developing the property.
In a previous development scheme that was considered by Council in July, 2011 - Report No. 2011.115 (Planning), the applicant requested that a portion of the property be rezoned to the "MU2-H" – Mixed Use Zone 2 - Holding to allow for the development of multiple dwelling units in the form of apartment or townhouse dwellings; which is in keeping with the Official Plan's land use designation. At the July 25, 2011 Public Meeting, there was considerable opposition from area residents regarding the multiple dwelling unit portion of the proposed development. Council referred the Report back to Administration and the applicant seeking further information with respect to the type and form of multiple dwelling units proposed.
Rather than continuing to pursue the development of multiple dwellings, the applicant revised the development proposal and in October, 2011, resubmitted an application to rezone the entire land holding to "R1-H" to permit the development of only single detached dwellings.
Administration did not recommend in support of that amendment request. The applicant’s revised proposal did not provide the mix of housing required by the policies of the Dawson Heights Community Plan and could not be supported without an Official Plan Amendment. The Planning Division recommended that only the portion of the lands to be rezoned in keeping with the Official Plan be approved, and that an Official Plan Amendment be submitted for the remainder.
Since October, the applicant has once again revised the development scheme for the lands and is now proposing a wider range of lot sizes and has submitted a companion Official Plan amendment.
Description of Subject Property
The subject property, which is shown on Attachment "C" of this Report, is 4.77 hectares in size, and is located on the western end of Tuscany Drive, west of Hilldale Road. To the east is a low density residential area comprised of single detached dwellings known as the Silvertree Subdivision. The subject lands formed a future third stage of that subdivision. Lands to the southeast, known as Gemstone Estates, are also comprised of low density single detached dwellings. Also to the southeast are a church, apartment dwelling, and retirement residence. To the north is rural residential development comprised of single detached dwellings on large privately serviced lots.
Future servicing of these lands was contemplated and incorporated into the design and construction of Stage 2 of the Silvertree Subdivision and Stage 3 of the Gemstone Estates Subdivision to the immediate south. The servicing included the provision for utility connections, sewer and water services, and an access point for a street connection to Tuscany Drive via Aquamarine Drive.
Notice of Application of the plan of subdivision was mailed to area residents on January 27, 2012, this notice reflected the original proposal which included opportunities for both low and medium/high density housing. Notice of Application of the Amendments to the Official Plan and Zoning By-law was mailed to area residents on April 12, 2012. Notice of Public Meeting for all 3 of the applications (Official Plan Amendment, Zoning By-law Amendment, and Plan of Subdivision) was mailed on June 29, 2012. Each notice included a sign posted on the property at the western end of Tuscany Drive.
There were several telephone calls and one letter was received regarding the Notice of Application of the Plan of Subdivision. These comments expressed concern over the potential use of a portion of the lands for multiple dwelling units. Given that the proposal has changed since the Notice of Application of the plan of subdivision, these comments are no longer relevant.
No comments have been submitted with regards to the Notice of Application of the Amendments to the Official Plan and Zoning By-law or to the Public Meeting Notice.
In an effort to provide an affordable housing component within this development, a number of smaller frontage single detached dwelling lots have been incorporated in the design of the subdivision in lieu of higher density multiple unit development. The applicant's proposed plan includes approximately 30% of the lots with frontages less than the 15 metre standard, which is consistent with the policies of the Official Plan. The applicant believes that this amendment conforms to the intent of the Official Plan as it provides opportunities for a range of housing sizes that will be more affordable.
Official Plan and Zoning By-law Amendments
The Engineering Division has reviewed the application and has no concerns with respect to the Official Plan and Zoning By-law amendments. They have provided comments with regards to the proposed subdivision, which are discussed later in this report.
Tbaytel has reviewed the application and has no concerns with respect to the Official Plan and Zoning By-law amendments. Comments with regards to the proposed subdivision have been provided and are discussed later in this report.
The Parks Division believes that, where appropriate, intensification of residential development should be pursued. Intensification makes more efficient use of park facilities as more residents are able to enjoy and have access to the facility within a short walking distance. In the case of the subject property, the City's capital investment in Silvertree Park would benefit more people if denser housing forms were being proposed. The Parks Division would prefer to have the subject lands remain in the medium to high designation and developed at a higher density.
The Community Environmental Action Plan (CEAP) Coordinator has a number of concerns and has suggested that the proposed amendments are not in keeping with the goals and objectives of the EarthWiseŽ CEAP, Report No. 2008.128 (Environment).
The Land Use section (7.0) of the CEAP seeks to increase the variety of housing forms available to local citizens, increase multi-unit residential density, and increase the walkability of our community. It also supports increased access to public transit and affordable mixed-use housing within walking distance of daily amenities.
It is suggested that the proposed Official Plan Amendment undermines these objectives by reducing density and facilitating a development that will consist of only single detached dwellings. The CEAP Co-ordinator believes that the proposed plan of subdivision does little to forward the EarthWiseŽ goals adopted by Council, and has the potential to create negative impacts such as reduced active transportation (counter to CEAP goal 1.2), increased point source air pollution (counter to CEAP goal 2.0) and increased greenhouse gases arising from more motor-vehicle traffic (counter to CEAP goal 4.0).
The Lakehead Region Conservation Authority, Licensing & Enforcement Division, and Fire Prevention and Rescue Service, have reviewed this proposal and have no concerns.
Planning Division Comments
The lands subject to the proposed plan of subdivision are designated "Urban Residential" in the Official Plan and are contained within the Dawson Heights Community Plan (DHCP).
The policies of the DHCP are contained in Section 26 of the Official Plan and provide a framework for the location and phasing of development in the area. Schedule 'A' of the DHCP, which is shown on Attachment "E" of this Report, designates the entire property as "Urban Residential." It also designates a portion of the lands as "Urban Residential – medium to high density."
The land use designations for Dawson Heights shown on Schedule 'A' to the DHCP (Attachment "E") are intended to provide a general framework for the future development of Dawson Heights and all development proposals are required to have regard to the policies and Land Use Plan during their preparation and design. The policies of the Plan indicate that the boundaries between various land uses and the locations of various parks, medium and high density residential areas and commercial sites are not exact, and that a certain degree of flexibility will be used in determining the precise location of various uses as plans of subdivision are submitted for approval.
The areas of the Plan identified for high and medium density residential development are considered appropriate for multiple dwellings based on anticipated infrastructure and land use patterns. In the case of the applicant’s lands, the previous development scheme that included a multiple unit component had the higher density uses located on future collector roads -Tuscany Drive and Aquamarine Drive.
While there is a degree of flexibility in the Plan with respect to the exact locations of high and medium density residential development, it is clear that a portion of the applicant’s lands are intended for multiple dwelling development. In order to accommodate the applicant’s request to allow for only single detached dwellings, an Amendment to the Official Plan is required to remove the medium to high density designation that applies to these lands.
The proposed Official Plan Amendment and its associated Zoning By-law Amendment will facilitate the development of 13 single detached dwellings (Lots 25-34 and Lots 55-59). This contrasts with the potential 61 apartment dwelling units that could have been developed if the lands were zoned for multiple dwellings. A potential of 48 dwellings units will not be realized with the requested amendment.
The DHCP suggests that multiple dwelling units will provide the most affordable housing form in the area. The proposed amendments would facilitate only one type of housing form, single detached dwellings, and therefore, opportunities for housing that is considered more affordable will be lost if the applicant’s request is granted.
The housing policies of the Official Plan support a mixture of housing types and tenures for urban residential plans of subdivision and state that where practical and appropriate, new residential developments within the "Urban Residential" designation include between 25% and 40% of the housing in multiple form, or on smaller lots with less than the normal 15 metre frontage standard.
As a way of providing opportunity for smaller more affordable homes, the applicant has provided 19 smaller frontage lots, which is approximately 32% of the total number of proposed lots. This is in keeping with the Official Plan's housing policies and is also consistent with other recent low density plans of subdivision in River Terrace, Hutton Park, and Sherwood Estates. In addition, 9 of the 59 proposed lots are of sufficient lot area and frontage, being a minimum of 540.0 square metres and 18.0 metres, to accommodate an "accessory apartment" as defined and regulated by the Zoning By-law.
It is worthy to note that single detached dwellings are the dominant form of new housing construction in the City. The Lot Inventory Report and the Official Plan anticipate that demand for single detached dwellings will remain strong and that single detached dwellings will continue to be an important housing form in the residential market.
The Planning Division shares the concerns expressed by the Parks Division and the CEAP Coordinator. The proposed amendments are not in keeping with the overall direction of the Official Plan, which is to promote higher density housing forms and to encourage a broad range of housing types that will be affordable to a larger proportion of the population. That having been said, the Official Plan does provide for a degree of flexibility within individual plans of subdivision provided that it can be demonstrated that opportunities exist nearby for multiple unit housing forms.
The 2012 Lot Inventory Report provides a picture of the development opportunities that currently exist throughout the City and it identifies that there are several properties throughout the City that are appropriately zoned for multiple units and are available for development including other lands within the Dawson Heights Community Plan and in the nearby Northwest Community Plan. Lands at the corner of Tuscany Drive and Hilldale Road are zoned to accommodate up to 64 multiple dwelling units, and Stage 3 of the Gemstone Estates Subdivision to the immediate south contains a multiple dwelling unit block. In addition, Council recently approved a Zoning By-law amendment that includes opportunity for multiple dwelling unit development on adjacent lands that are immediately south and part of the Dawson Heights Stage 4 subdivision.
While there are other opportunities for multiple dwellings in and around this area, the proposed amendments would represent an opportunity lost to provide a denser form of development within this subdivision.
The Planning Division is concerned that amendments such as the one being sought by the applicant are contrary to the City’s overall efforts to encourage denser, more efficient development forms; however, the redesignating and rezoning of the subject lands will still allow the development of the anticipated mix of dwelling types and affordability provided that the remainder of the Plan area develops as envisioned. Provided that these other areas develop at a medium/high density scale, the overall density targets for the DHCP area will be met, notwithstanding the low density nature of the plan of subdivision being contemplated in this application. On this basis the Planning Division does not oppose the applicant’s request to redesignate and rezone the subject lands.
The applicant intends to develop the plan of subdivision in stages which is supported by the Engineering Division. It is recommended that an "H" - Holding symbol be applied to the proposed "R1" Zone. The holding symbol may be removed when the applicant has entered into a Subdivision Agreement for each stage of the development. This is in keeping with the "R1-H" Zone that applies to the surrounding lands.
Until the "H" – Holding symbol is removed, only those uses legally existing would be permitted. It should be noted that when the "H" - Holding symbol is removed, City Council must only give notice of its intention to pass the amending by-law to the applicant and persons and public bodies that have given the City Clerk a written request for notice. There is no requirement to hold an additional public meeting and there is no provision to appeal the decision to remove the "H" – Holding symbol.
The applicant has designed the plan of subdivision so that Aquamarine Drive and Burgundy Avenue could be extended in the future. Temporary traffic turning circles would be required until these roads are extended. It is recommended that the proposed amending by-law include a provision to recognize any temporary turning circles that might be required during the development of the subdivision. This provision would deem temporary turning circle blocks to be part of the abutting lot for the purpose of calculating the area, frontage, depth, coverage and yard setbacks for the abutting lot.
Draft Plan of Subdivision
The Notice of Application for this Draft Plan of Subdivision was given on January 3, 2012, as prescribed by Section 51(20)(a) of the Planning Act. The proposed plan, with the portions of the lands subject to the Official Plan and Zoning By-law amendments shown as future development blocks, was circulated to required agencies. The comments received, and the agency requirements, are summarized and discussed below together with recommendations from the Planning Division. The draft plan of subdivision is shown in Attachment "F" to this Report.
The following civic departments and outside agencies reviewed the proposed plan and offered no objections:
- Lakehead Region Conservation Authority
- Building Division
- Realty Services Division
- Ministry of Transportation
- Thunder Bay District Health Unit
- Thunder Bay Catholic District School Board
- Lakehead District School Board
- Hydro One Networks Inc.
- Union Gas Ltd. (Thunder Bay)
The Parks Division, together with input from the Active Transportation Co-ordinator, request a 5.0 metre walkway block to access the existing park and eventually Gemstone Street when that street is extended. In addition another walkway block is requested to connect this plan of subdivision with potential future development to the immediate west of the subject lands. These 2 walkway blocks are labeled as Blocks 62 and 63 on the draft plan in Attachment "F."
It is noted that Parkland dedicated under previous stages of the Silvertree Subdivision conforms with the 5% parkland dedication for the entire development of all three stages. No additional parkland is required for this last stage.
As part of this subdivision street trees are required and an additional 10 trees should be planted in Silvertree Park in compliance with the 2012 Parks Division Guidelines. It is recommended that the provision for park trees be included as a condition of final approval. Street trees are a standard component of Subdivision Agreements.
In addition, a fence is required along all walkway blocks and at the common lot line of all lots abutting Silvertree Park. It is recommended that a 1.2 metre chain link fence be a condition of final approval. The fence would be at the rear of proposed lots 48 to 54 and along Blocks 62 and 63. It is also recommended that Blocks 62 and 63 be deeded to the City and the associated fencing be a condition of final approval. To prevent encroachments onto City owned lands, the Planning Division recommends that notice also be placed on title on the lots that abut Silvertree Park (lots 48 – 54) that no gates will be permitted on the required fence without prior authorization from the Manager of the Parks Division.
The Engineering Division has reviewed the proposed plan provides the following comments:
ˇ Until the subdivision to the immediate south develops (Gemstone Estates Stage 3), this proposed subdivision will not have a second access route. It is recommended that only the first 24 lots be developed in the first stage. The remaining lots may be developed once the secondary access route is available.
ˇ The first stage of construction will be a dead end street; therefore the water main will need to be a single feed instead of a looped system. The design of the water system will need to reflect the additional maintenance requirements for flushing and maintaining residual chlorine in the water supply.
o Concerns have previously been raised regarding the supply of water to the Dawson Heights Community Plan area. In order to support the full construction of this subdivision plus future stages to the south, a second water supply main must be constructed. It is intended that the second watermain will be constructed as a condition of Dawson Heights Stage 4. Stage 2 of this subdivision will not be permitted until the second supply pipe is constructed.
ˇ The storm sewer system required for this development will discharge to the existing storm sewer on Tuscany Drive, which discharges north into a ditch from an outfall on Fenwood Drive. This ditch crosses Hilldale Road and drains into a wetland that ends up in McVicar Creek. The majority of the Dawson Heights Community Plan area north of Wardrope Avenue drains to this outfall. It would be difficult to create a storm water management plan that would provide any benefit to water quality considering that drainage from this area will travel through ditches and wetland areas before reaching waterways with fish habitat. A review of the storm water sewer system for the entire Dawson Heights Community Plan area should be conducted to confirm that the existing design conforms to the City of Thunder Bay's current Engineering and Development Standards. Because this stage of the development receives storm water from adjacent developments, a comprehensive review should consider ways to distribute any mitigation costs fairly and equitably.
ˇ Under the City's current sidewalk policy, sidewalks are only required on one side of the local streets. The developer has the option of building on both sides of the street.
ˇ The City of Thunder Bay applied development charges to the first 2 stages of the Silvertree Subdivision for the installation of oversized water mains and deeper sewers on Hilldale Road. The total cost of the works was $119,000 with the remaining balance of $68,929 to be applied to this stage of development. It should be determined whether this can be applied now that the City no longer has development charges.
It is recommended that a lot grading and drainage plan be developed to the satisfaction of the City Engineer as a condition of final plan approval of the subdivision. In addition, it is recommended that a review of the storm water sewer system for the entire Dawson Heights Community Plan area should be conducted to confirm that the existing design conforms to the City of Thunder Bay's current Engineering and Development Standards as a condition of final plan approval.
The DHCP provides for cost sharing for the oversizing of services to accommodate development. This proposed plan does benefit from oversizing. As such, it is recommended, that as a condition of final plan approval of the subdivision, that the owner pays $68,929 to the City for the cost of the installed oversized water mains and deeper sewers on Hilldale Road.
Tbaytel and Thunder Bay Hydro
Tbaytel and Thunder Bay Hydro require a 3.0-metre easement along all lots lines that abut a street. The Planning Division recommends that such easements as may be required for utility or drainage purposes shall be granted to the appropriate authority as a condition for final plan approval of the subdivision.
Canada Post requires that notice be given to inform all prospective purchasers, through a clause in all agreements of purchase and sale that Lots 13 and 54 are identified for the location of Community Mailboxes. In addition, the developer is required to provide curb depressions at the Community Mailbox location. It is recommended that the request from Canada Post be a condition for final plan approval of the Subdivision.
Ministry of Culture
Correspondence from the Ministry of Culture states that the property exhibits low archaeological potential and no archaeological assessment is required. While an assessment is not required for this development, the Planning Division recommends the standard condition that would require the developer to stop operations and contact the Police, the Ministry of Culture, and the Registrar of Cemeteries should any cultural heritage values and/or human remains be discovered during construction.
Planning Division – Mapping Section
A continuation of the current street network pattern is proposed with the extension of Tuscany Street and Aquamarine Drive from the surrounding neighbourhood into the proposed subdivision. The Mapping Section of the Planning Division has reviewed the proposed street naming and finds it acceptable with the City's Street Naming Policies.
The proposed draft plan of subdivision complies with the Official Plan and Zoning By-law provided the amendments to the Official Plan and Zoning By-law contained in this report are approved.
Given that these lands form a portion of the Dawson Heights Community Plan and that residential development to the east is likely, it is recommended that a notice be placed on title to notify all property owners within the proposed plan of subdivision that the lands adjacent to and to the east of this development are intended to be developed with another residential subdivision.
Provincial Policy Statement
The recommended proposal is consistent with the Provincial Policy Statement which encourages residential development that can accommodate a range of tenure and affordability within urban areas. This area is located within the urban limit and suitable for the proposed urban residential development.
Planning Act Requirements
In accordance with Section 51(20) of the Planning Act, no decision can be made on the application for draft plan approval of this subdivision until at least 14 days have elapsed from the holding of the public meeting. Council must close the public meeting and consider the recommendation on the subdivision application at the next appropriate Council meeting after the 14 days have elapsed which would be August 27, 2012. There is no requirement to defer the decision on the Official Plan or Zoning By-law Amendment. Therefore, Council can consider passing the amending Zoning By-law and the By-law to adopt the Official Plan Amendment immediately.