November 19, 2015
Highland Gate Developments Inc. has decided to appeal its proposed development to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) before allowing Council to make a decision. The Town held three public meetings on: June 24, September 30 and October 28 with the developer and residents to receive public input.
The purpose of the development applications is to allow a residential plan of subdivision comprised of 184 lots and a 10-storey condominium building. The application was received by the Town on February 27, 2015.
In response to this appeal, The Town of Aurora as required by the Planning Act must prepare a record of materials associated with the related planning applications for submission to the OMB.
October 13, 2015
The following is a list of frequently asked questions (FAQ) on the Highland Gate planning applications. These represent a summary of questions from the public submitted to the Town and provided at the two Public Planning Meetings of Council held on June 24, 2015 and September 30, 2015.
1. What is the Town of Aurora's growth target and are we meeting those targets?
The Growth Plan provides intensification policies and growth targets for each upper-tier and single-tier municipality in the Greater Golden Horseshoe. York Region (upper-tier) assigned growth targets and intensification targets to each local municipality for the years 2006 to 2031. The Town of Aurora's population growth target is 70,200 people by 2031.
As of 2015, nine years into the 25-year forecast period, the Town's population is approximately 56,600 people, which represents 34 per cent progress towards the 2031 target.
The growth and intensification targets within the Growth Plan are only minimum objectives.
2. What happens after the 2031 target?
In 2013, the Province updated the Growth Plan's population and employment forecasts for 2031 and introduced new population and employment forecasts for 2036 and 2041 in the Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH) including York Region. York Region is currently in the process of a land budget and forecasting exercise to distribute the additional growth for each local municipality for 2041.
3. Why is the Town of Aurora considering the proposed draft plan of subdivision?
The owner has the right to submit a planning application to the municipality for the development. Council is required to process and review the planning application and provide a decision.
4. Will the Town be considering either purchasing the lands?
The property owner has stated that the lands are not for sale.
5. What are the financial impacts of the development to the general taxpayer?
The owner is responsible for maintenance of all roads and services within the Highland Gate development until the Town assumes the road allowances. The future cost of road maintenance is applied as a Town-wide municipal tax.
6. Have the environmental reports and plans been reviewed by the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority (LSRCA)?
The development will be required to comply with the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan and the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan (Settlement Area) policies. The limits of environmental protection lands will be established by the Town and the LSRCA.
The detailed engineering studies have been provided and commented on by LSRCA who are satisfied with all technical reports, and have provided sign off subject to the owner satisfying a list of recommended conditions.
7. Will the Town be peer reviewing all of the applicant's reports and submissions?
Peer review of Traffic, Urban Design and Geotechnical reports have now been undertaken at the owner's cost. The peer reviewers have commented that the applicant's plans meet correct evaluation procedures and are satisfied with the applicant's submissions.
8. Why is the Town considering the reduced road widths for the proposed Highland Gate development?
The standard for a municipal right-of ways (r.o.w.) is 18m. The Highland Gate development proposes a 17.5m wide municipal r.o.w. This standard has been evaluated and approved by Council as part of the 2C Secondary Plan engineering review and is considered an acceptable r.o.w. width without impact to service levels (eg. Utilities, emergency and maintenance vehicles). A copy of the proposed r.o.w. is illustrated below. The pavement widths will be 6 metres for two lanes and 8.0 metres where there will be on-street parking.
9. How will the construction of the proposed subdivision impact existing homes in the area?
The owner has submitted a Construction Phasing Management Plan that will be reviewed and approved by the Town to address construction impacts. Terms of the subdivision agreement will outline how construction is to proceed and be monitored. The owner will conduct preconstruction inspections of all homes adjacent to the site. Liability insurance will cover commercial, general, automotive, contractor pollution and broad all-risk liability. The liability insurance would remain in effect until the Town is satisfied that the work is completed.
August 7, 2015
The following is a chronological listing of the specific questions (Q) asked at the June 24th 2015 Public Planning Meeting.
Some questions have been edited for clarity.
A staff response (R) to those questions have been provided in underlined italics .
1. What considerations have been given to the short and long term effects of these changes to the ecosystem of these lands and the downstream lands?
(Relocate and realigning streams and creeks, filling in natural heritage features, disturbing habitats, altering watercourses, removing existing buffers and tree covers.)
Review and approval will be obtained for all required environmental reports as outlined by the Provincial Policy Statement, Region of York OP, Town of Aurora OP, ORMCP, LSRCA, Lake Simcoe Protection Act and MOECC Guidelines.
2. (a) What is the long term benefit of the proposed development to the existing residents of the Highland Gate Community?
The principle that development must pay for development will be applied to the planning applications. These include:
• Payment of application fees and peer review fees for technical reports
• Payment of Development Charges
• Dedication of public parkland to the Town
• Dedication of environmental lands to the Town
• Payment of outstanding taxes
• Taxation of developed lands
• Agreement fees and securities
2. (b) What compensation can we anticipate if single loaded roads are approved?
There is no eligibility or process for homeowner compensation through approval of the planning applications.
3. Allow the current homeowners to buy into the property that is no longer being used as a Golf Course? It's a very minimal one but will the development allow for no demand on infrastructure from the Town, there will be no additional need for water for police, for fire services and will not have additional cost.
It is the property owner's right to sell land or apply for planning approvals as it may determine in its discretion.
A professional engineering review of all existing servicing and infrastructure, and the capacity for new services, is required and is currently being undertaken by staff. Developers of land are required to pay development charges (Regional, Town and Education) to cover the cost of future municipal services. In addition, development charges also cover operating costs of emergency services such as fire, police and EMS.
4. Has the Town given any consideration to purchase this property on behalf of the citizens of the Town?
The property owner has stated that the lands are not for sale.
5. (a) What steps will you take to ensure that this land will not be re-designated as Stable Environment but remain as Parkland and should you agree to change the designation, what steps will you take to ensure that the condominium is not built?
The limits of environmental protection lands will be required to be established by the Town and the LSRCA. Lands dedicated as environmental protection and parkland will be appropriately designated and zoned and will be conveyed to the Town.
5. (b) If they undertake to ensure they will not take any applications to the OMB before the public consultation process that you as Council has outlined will go till October that they undertake not to take steps to go to the OMB before that process is entirely completed.
The property owner has given no indication that it will appeal the applications to the OMB before the Town's public consultation process has been completed. It is noted however that the owner has that right 180 days after submission of a complete application.
6. What are the short and long term risks to existing property owners in terms of health and safety and property damage? What liability provisions have been put in place by the developer and the Town?
If approved the owner will be required to enter into a registered subdivision agreement and submit liability insurance and securities to the Town to ensure that all construction works are to occur in accordance with all municipal engineering standards, in compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
7. Should development in any form occur? Either in its current form or any versions. What impact on the property tax levies on existing homes throughout the neighbourhood can be expected? Specifically, what criteria in a scenario like this would be used in conjunction with the MPAC to determine the assessment or reassessment in any tax changes for any and all homes in the Highlands neighbourhood whether impacted by single loaded roads, new homes, land locked sections, or being located on a public park. How will it be done fairly in light of the perceived threats of loss of use or loss of benefits from existing properties.
The owner has a right to apply for planning approvals on their lands. Property taxation is based on property values as established by MPAC and the mill rate applied by the municipality.
8. (a) Will the Town subject all the technical documents to peer review?
Peer review of Traffic, Urban Design and Geotechnical reports are being undertaken.
8. (b) What the impact is on the increase demands for existing water supply, facilities, pressure flow, water quality and sewer collection facilities?
Engineering review will be conducted to assess if existing municipal serving levels can be maintained.
8. (c) Are the existing watermain sewers designed for the increase? Or do we have to increase the size of the existing infrastructure to make sure we have appropriate supply? Will we need additional water treatment capacity being built as a result of the application? Ultimately how does that affect the rate payers throughout Aurora in bearing that cost overtime?
Any undersized services will have to be enlarged at the cost of the property owner to maintain or improve existing service levels and acommodate the projected growth.
9. (a) If development occurs and new roads and houses are built as proposed by the developers, who is liable for damages to the existing homes and properties in terms of problems may not be immediately be apparent such as cracked foundations, drainage and flooding , loss of landscape and etc.?
The owner has submitted a Construction Phasing Management Plan that will be reviewed and approved by the Town to address construction impacts. Terms of the subdivision agreement will outline how construction is to proceed and be monitored. The owner has also stated that they will offer to conduct preconstruction inspection of all homes adjacent to the site.
9. (b) What liability coverage will be required by Highland Gate Developments Inc. and or the Town? And for what period of Time?
Liability insurance will cover commercial general, automotive , contractor pollution and broad form (all risk) liability. The liability insurance would remain in effect until the Town is satisfied that the works are completed.
10. What assurances have been provided to ensure sewer backups and damage to watercourses as well as damages to adjacent properties will not occur? Either at the time of development, subsequent or future?
The terms of the subdivision agreement require construction in accordance with detailed engineering plans approved by the Town and the LSRCA. An inspection schedule is also required. Securities are taken by the Town to ensure the works are conducted in accordance with those plans.
11. Will Highland Gate Developments Inc. be require to provide a maintenance fund to be used by the Town of Aurora to take care of the conveyed lands in whole or in part? If so, how much money will be required to be deposited and for what period of time?
A maintenance fund is normally required for maintenance of conveyed storm water management facilities. A fund will be required for environmental protection lands. The amount has not been determined.
12. Phasing of the construction overtime will be very disruptive to everyone. Will the Town require that any development or construction be undertaken at the same time as to disrupt the current neighbourhood the least possible way? Who will oversee the construction plan in terms of ensuring that noise, dirt, storing of equipment, construction traffic on residential roads, safety of pedestrians and children playing will be carefully monitored? Will the Town avoid summer construction?
The owner has submitted a Construction Phasing Management Plan that will be reviewed and approved by the Town to address construction impacts. Terms of the subdivision agreement will outline how construction is to proceed and be monitored. The plan will also spell out how mitigation will be undertaken to lessen the impacts of construction.
13. Will the Town hire an outside consultant to review selected technical reports as well as environment reports beside the conservation authority? Cost to the applicant. Request the Town to peer review all reports and documents?
Peer review of Traffic, Urban Design and Geotechnical reports are being undertaken. Peer review charges will be paid by owner.
14. In the event that the development moves forward as proposed, what is the impact of and cost for street cleaning, snow removal, salting, street lights, hydro service, gas, bell and rogers services, garbage and yard waste, recycling collection on the proposed tighter streets? Will infrastructures upgrades be required or different vehicles or operations and maintenance equipment practices be require that will increase rates, taxes, or impact on residents of Highland and all of residents of Aurora.
The Highland Gate development proposes a 17.5m wide municipal right of way. This standard has been evaluated in detail as part of the 2C Secondary Plan engineering review and is considered an acceptable right-of-way width without impacting service levels (e.g., different vehicles).
The owner will be responsible for maintenance of all roads and services within the new Highland Gate development until the Town assumes the road allowances. The future cost of road maintenance is applied as a Town- wide municipal tax.
15. Given the existing infrastructure and soil types across all areas, including the high water tables in some areas of the proposed development – how will stormwater be released or recharged to the aquifer in the correct rate? Is this the same rate location as the existing development in the Highland Gate Community? Are there designs in place that will ensure that streets that will be impacted by the construction will actually have some measures to avoid flooding and will there be infrastructure in place and compensation made to residents with respect to water damage that may occur to their basement?
In terms of water balancing and water recharge the development will be required to comply with the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan and the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan (Settlement Area) policies. Detailed engineering studies have been provided and commented on by LSRCA. (The study details are available on applicant's web site at: http://www.highlandgateaurora.com/). The Town is currently reviewing the submission in consultation with a peer review consultant. Final approved engineering plans will require compliance with all provincial policy. Approved plans will ensure surface water flows away from existing properties.
The owner has also stated that they will offer to conduct pre-construction inspection of all homes adjacent to the site.
16. Concerns with the Spring Feed area regarding the condominium that were built in the 80s at Yonge and Golf Links Drive. Concerns with feeding water from golf course to Bathurst, they were concern with the condo development when Condo built on Yonge Street had the wrong setbacks without permission. The golf course has spring fed water.
1) How are the ponds fed on the golf course?
2) What will happen to this water transfer infrastructure? Why was the public not informed?
Environmental consultants report that the ponds are on-line ponds.
In terms of water balancing and recharge the development will be required to comply with the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan and the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan (Settlement Area) policies. Detailed engineering studies have been provided and commented on by LSRCA (April 10, 2015).
17. (a) Have the residents of the Highland been consulted whether they are in favour of such additional active parkland as proposed by the developer?
The Public Notification provides residents to provide verbal or written comments and input on the Highland Gate application for Council consideration.
17. (b) What consideration has been given to allow the lands to be remain as passive open space with naturalize walking trail for all of Aurora to enjoy?
The owner has a right to apply for planning approvals on their lands. Passive open space and trails are proposed within the plan.
17. (c) Are there any other similar proposal for rezoning of open space areas in the adjacent communities in the GTA? And its effects on the greenbelt in Ontario?
The westerly portion of the Highland Gate development lands are within the Settlement Area of the ORMCP. The ORMCP forms part of the provincial Greenbelt Plan Area. The development is under review to assess impacts and conformity to the ORMCP.
18. Options: 1) Council buying the property 2) Maybe there is no development at all 3) Homeowner can buy part of the property 4) Current proposal goes as is 5) Radical change to the proposal.
1) Which is Council's preferred answer?
2) Which of those options are a complete no go?
3) Which is the most likely outcome?
All of these options are for Council to consider. The property owner has stated that the lands are not for sale.
19. (a) The infrastructure that has to be put in, will this be paid by Geranium? Or by the taxpayers?
All infrastructure costs to accommodate development will be installed and paid for by the owner.
19. (b) Can we all work together to only build about 20 homes and the rest (Town, Province, Residents) buy the rest?
The property owner has stated that the lands are not for sale.
20. Have the school Board been consulted on this project and the potential it has for social public event? Too much homes equal overcrowded school.
The Public and Catholic School Boards have been circulated and have no comments or objections to the Highland Gate planning applications.
21. Why? Why are we brothering with this? Why is Council even considering this?
The owner has a right to apply for planning approvals on their lands and Council has a duty to consider the applications under the provisions of the Planning Act.
22. What are the more immediate and longer term effects for the ponds and watercourses to ensure the existing environment , ecology , land , trees and vegetation are protected as in the past and not damaged in future events or neglect? Can Council direct the ponds be cleaned and repaired?
The Town will set the terms and conditions through the subdivision agreement for any conveyances to the Town of watercourses, environmental lands, or parkland Once the new subdivision is assumed by the Town, items such as storm water ponds become the responsibility of the Town to maintain .
23. Millions of dollars on the Town's Hydro fund – use it for the public good. The Developer is willing to convey 48 acres at no cost to the Town? Has consideration been made to purchase the remainder 60 acres? What decision criteria would apply should the Town be required to request to use some or all of the hydro fund for that purpose?
The property owner has stated that the lands are not for sale.