Small step for West Lincoln a big step for future planning

By Tristan Marks

Last Thursday’s virtual public meeting for West Lincoln’s urban boundary expansion was another small step in a very big process.

Consultants rolled out two possible concepts for expanding Smithville’s urban boundaries and gave a general update on the Smithville Community Master Plan.

The information was released as part of the first Public Information Centre (PIC) for Phase 1 of the study, and was a follow up to a preliminary stakeholder meeting held in 2019.

Consultants also gave an update to the accompanying sub-watershed study, and answered questions regarding the entire presentation from members of the public.

Consultant Karl Grueneis began the PIC with an update of the purpose of the study, that the current trends of growth in Smithville indicate that the Township will have to expand its urban borders.

“Right now, there’s not enough land to sustain that growth,” Grueneis said.

To that end, the study’s purpose is to develop a phased plan to expand Smithville’s borders to allow for more residential and employment zones, while also preserving the prime agricultural land surrounding the community.

Grueneis also said that the two concepts took into consideration input from residents and other stakeholders from the preliminary 2019 public meeting. He pointed to survey data from that night that found that residents wanted Smithville of the future to maintain its character as a quiet, central urban area, one that avoids sprawl and high rises.

Both concepts worked around the same map of Smithville that expanded its urban borders to Young St. in the North, South Grimsby Road 6 in the West, North Creek in the South, and some areas to the East.

Each concept presented a different layout for residential/mixed use lands and employment lands, the key differences in the arrangements coming from which of two potential truck by-pass routes the Township could go with.

The first option, which assumes a bypass route along the North end of Smithville, suggests expanding existing employment lands along the North and the East of the urban area, while placing new land for residential housing and community facilities in The second concept, on the other hand, assumes a by-pass route to the South which was originally identified by a road study conducted by the Niagara Region in the 1970s. In this option residential/community land would go along Smithville’s expanded northern corridor, and employment land would be placed along the by-pass route to the South-East.

This second option would see more room for medium-density housing and employment land than the first, while sacrificing space for higher-density housing and potential community facilities.

Both concepts for an expanded Smithville considered data gathered by a simultaneous sub-watershed study, which considered how the different land use arrangements would affect a number of factors, such as floodplains, important waterways and drainage routes.

The master plan study also considered Smithville’s water and wastewater capabilities and how such infrastructure would need to be expanded with new pumps and sewers.

After these presentations, viewers of the PIC had a chance to submit questions to be answered by the consultants who were present. These questions focused on different aspects of the master plan study, giving the presenters a chance to clarify in further detail.

One question in particular asked about how data was gathered for the traffic component of the study, which found that Smithville’s roads were at 50 per cent on average capacity during rush hour periods, seeing as the roads saw much less use since 2020 due to the COVID pandemic.

Consultant Steve Wever explained that this part of the study used and extrapolated data gathered from before 2020, while incorporating some ride data from the Niagara Regional Transit OnDemand pilot program.

Following this presentation, West Lincoln residents can give feedback on the master plan study while learning more about it by visiting the website. There, feedback on this first PIC can be submitted up until Feb. 25. A second follow-up PIC will take place in May 2021.

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