By Tristan Marks
West Lincoln’s review of expanding its urban boundaries is taking another big step this week with a virtual public meeting set for Wednesday (Oct. 6).
That meeting comes on the heels of an update at the Township’s Planning/Building/Environmental Committee on Sept. 13 regarding the ongoing Master Community Plan study.
At the same meeting, council also heard a presentation on expanding employment areas in West Lincoln’s rural hamlets.
The update on the Smithville Master Community Plan follows up on public input given by residents who participated in a Public Information Centre (PIC) in January of this year.
Consultant Steven Wever explained that of two land-use options presented to residents at the PIC, the vast majority preferred the one that grouped future employment lands to the north and east of Smithville’s expanded borders, and placed future residential land to the south and south-West.
The concept plan Wever presented to council elaborated further on this preferred option.
This concept envisions urban employment lands along Industrial Park Road, and while retaining agricultural/rural employment lands along parts of RR 20 to the west of Station Street.
Residential areas of various densities and mixed-use zoning would radiate from “commercial nodes” to the south of Townline Road and the west of South Grimsby Road 5.
“In this plan, the majority of the expanded area would be used for residents,” said Wever.
The presentation also touched on several options for truck corridors/downtown bypasses.
Option A would see a new bypass road connecting Townline Road to Industrial Park Road and having the route continue along a new east-west route south of Young Street.
Option B would see a new north-south connection between RR 20 and South Grimsby Road 2 and continue east-west along Young Street.
The third option, Option C, offers a bypass south of the Smithville from Townline Road and then up through South Grimsby Road 7.
Both Mayor Dave Bylsma and Coun. William Reilly expressed interest in Option A.
“We’ve heard from the community that they want to go north,” said Reilly. “I agree with the mayor that option A makes the most sense here, logically.”
Bylsma added that he was “overall pleased” with the refined concept Wever presented.
There will be a second PIC on Oct. 6 to gather data that will help fine tune the plan for when consultants present their preferred urban boundary plan to council on Oct. 12.
A third PIC and the final public meeting for the master plan will take place in Feb. 2022.
RURAL EMPLOYMENT LANDS
The committee also received a presentation that detailed options for expanding the Township’s rural settlements for the purpose of adding new employment lands to them.
A growth forecast from the Niagara Region indicated that West Lincoln needs to add a minimum of 25.9 hectares of employment land to rural hamlets like Grassie and Fulton among others.
Consultant Dan Currie said that the study was made to carefully examine each potential parcel of land for natural heritage, flood plains/hazard lands, prime agricultural use and mineral/petroleum extraction.
“The best location avoids conflict with those land uses,” said Currie.
Director of planning and building Brian Treble added that the employment land study is just one of two important steps for determining new boundaries for the rural settlements.
“We will have to accommodate both employment space and residential space,” said Treble.
The preliminary results of the study identified four settlements for potential expansion: Grassie, Fulton, Grimsby Centre and Regional Road 12.
Bylsma asked if the study had considered making use of unused industrial lands around the Township’s existing hamlet boundaries.
“Has there been a consideration for using the Township’s brown fields so we can maintain our agricultural lands?,” asked Bylsma, singling out Bismark in particular as a location with possibility.
Currie explained that the study is looking for efficiency in determining border expansion.
“Is it better to make one or two changes to be efficient, or to make several smaller adjustments?” he asked rhetorically.
However Treble indicated that “Bismark is certainly on our radar.”
Staff will return with an update after completing a more detailed analysis. When this will be is still to be determined.