By Tristan Marks
The Vineland of the future might become an important urban hub for the Town of Lincoln in the future.
Council passed a motion at last week’s meeting that directed staff to undergo an “envisioning exercise” to create an Urban Design Master Plan for Vineland, and then report back with it at a future Committee of the Whole meeting.
This motion was first introduced by Coun. Paul MacPherson through Notice of Motion at Lincoln’s March 22 Committee of the Whole Meeting. The goal, as he stated in the latter meeting, is to have staff envision possibilities for future development and come up with an urban master plan that “fits for downtown Vineland.”
“I know our residents and merchants want a more vibrant place to see people out of their cars walking, shopping and meeting together,” MacPherson said.
He added that this envisioning exercise would be similar to one undertaken earlier for Ontario St. via a motion presented by Mayor Sandra Easton.
As the motion reads, this Master Plan will, “establish a guiding vision for the anticipated growth and intensification along the downtown portion of King Street along with the Victoria Avenue Corridor, including within the Vineland Central Business District. This main artery requires long term strategy plans to not only consider future growth and a range of land uses, but also to develop a cohesive and attractive streetscape identity that welcomes visitors and appeals to local residents.”
MacPherson said that plan ought to lay out expectations for several aspects of future development, including connectivity to the rest of Lincoln, public greenspaces, the requirement for buried hydro wires, and “sidewalks wide enough to accommodate cafe patios.”
Council passed the motion with a unanimous vote, and most councillors embraced it immediately during discussion.
Coun. Greg Reimer in particular highlighted two points from the motion that he agreed would be especially key moving forward:
WHEREAS the Regional Municipality of Niagara is currently undertaking a detailed design for the redevelopment of King Street in Vineland, currently scheduled to be started in 2023;
WHEREAS opportunities to redevelop enhance the urban area of Vineland, including the downtown to accommodate private sector investment with vibrant commercial and residential development is desired.
In regard to the first point, Reimer said that the Region’s upgrades to King St. will make it a “major connecting route” from Vineland to the rest of the Niagara Peninsula, not just the Town of Lincoln.
“I see in the future that it will see a lot of traffic down Victoria, also,” Reimer added.
He also said that accommodating private investment would be key to achieving Vineland’s potential.
“The support and importance we give to the private sector, I think, is the key to success both initially and long-term,” said Reimer.
Coun. Lynn Timmers voiced her concern that Coun. MacPherson approached her and fellow Ward 4 Coun. Greg Reimer after originally tabling his notice of motion.
She said she appreciated that he reached out, as Vineland was split between Wards 3 and 4, but said, “we would appreciate being approached beforehand.”
As a sign of cooperation, Coun. Mike Mikolic offered to remove his name from seconding the motion so that Coun. Timmers could second it instead. She agreed, resulting in a Councillor from both Ward 3 and Ward 4 putting a name to the motion.
Coun. Tony Brunet originally questioned the need for an Urban Master Plan, noting it may be easier for Council to request regular updates from the CAO regarding the Region’s road construction plan and then base development off of that.
“I’m not one to put out a motion just because,” Brunet said. “What is this motion really doing?”
CAO Mike Kirkopoulos said that the plan is there to help attract developers by showing them that council is committed to seeing Vineland developed and will provide answers for developer inquiries to the specific direction the Town wants to take.
Brunet also requested that the envisioning process includes “the whole community” for feedback, something the CAO said would be possible through various methods including the Town’s new public input site, speakuplincoln.ca.
Coun. JD Pachereva noted that the Town had already approved a secondary plan for Vineland “in an earlier term”.
“How is this envisioning exercise different from that secondary plan?” Pachereva asked.
Director of planning and economic development Matt Bruder said that while the envisioning process would include “a significant part” of the information already gathered by the secondary plan, “this will take it a little bit farther too.”
Bruder explained that, in addition to envisioning development, an Urban Master Plan would consider Vineland’s connectivity to the rest of Lincoln and also consider topics such as active transport.
Bruder clarified the difference further after the meeting. The key difference, he said, was that the secondary plan spoke more to land uses, zoning and “imminent development”.
By contrast, the Master Plan will help guide private developers interested in Vineland over a long timeframe and across the area.
“It gives the developer a bit better of a guideline to make sure their proposals match what council wants for the area,” Bruder said.
“This will hopefully expedite any future development process.”