KITCHENER — A group of developers has agreed to pay the multimillion-dollar cost of extending Strasburg Road up front so they can get on with building thousands of homes in planned subdivisions in south Kitchener.
The six developers hope to build more than 2,000 homes in the Huron South area, but those plans are on hold until the road, water and sewer services are in place.
The lack of services is also holding up other projects, including two planned elementary schools — one Catholic and one public — as well as the city’s South Kitchener District Park. Children who live in the area are currently being bused to schools elsewhere.
The city has the funds to build the sanitary trunk and the sanitary sewer, and the Region of Waterloo has funds in place to build a water main that would also be part of the project. But everything has been held up by the fact the city’s capital budget hasn’t set aside money to build the road extension until 2020-22.
So the developers — Hallman Construction, Primeland Developments, Freure Developments, Activa Holdings, Sunvest Reid and Becker Estates — approached the city with a proposal. After 17 months of negotiations, the developers and city staff hashed out a plan that has the developers pay to build the road. Those costs would be credited toward the development charges the city would levy from developers when it issues building permits.
Developers have also agreed to pay any operating and maintenance costs — things like snow clearing, grass cutting and the hydro costs of street lights — until 2022, when the city would have built the road.
City councillors approved the agreement Monday at the city’s finance committee. “Let’s get this project moving forward,” said Coun. Bil Ioannidis.
Developers are keen to get the projects underway. Construction on the road could start this September, wrapping up by the summer of 2019.
The road alignment has been on the books since 1981, but Strasburg Road now stops just south of Rush Meadow Street. Extending Strasburg another 1.2 kilometres to connect with Robert Ferrie Drive is expected to cost $16.6 million. The work includes extending the four-lane road, as well as a multi-use trail, street lights, traffic signals, a bridge and a special culvert to allow wildlife to cross safely.
There’s strong demand for housing in Waterloo Region, developer Harold Freure told councillors at the meeting. Even without a fully staffed sales office in the area, his company has about 250 names on a waiting list of people who want to buy homes in the area, he said.
Building the road four years earlier will save the city an estimated $1 million in inflationary construction costs, and will bring in extra revenue, since the city will collect property taxes from the new homes sooner if they are built more quickly, said Coun. Kelly Galloway-Sealock.
Coun. Yvonne Fernandes voted against the agreement, saying she is opposed to the planned route for the road extension, noting the area includes sensitive wetlands and suspected habitat for the threatened Blanding’s turtle.
“I still do not believe this road should go through,” she said. “I still believe there are other alternatives to this road.”
Environmental monitoring will continue for five years, as required by the Ministry of Natural Resources, said Hans Gross, the city’s director of engineering.