Residents in one part of the city say that plans to develop the southern most reaches of Guelph could infringe on their way of life.
On the agenda for Monday evening’s meeting of council was a public information session dealing with the city’s plans for the Clair Maltby area — a largely undeveloped swath of land in the southern reaches of the city. While final plans have not been finalized for how that part of the city will be developed in the decades to come, a group of residents from those southern reaches told councillors that their needs and their properties have been largely ignored in the city’s discussions.
According to the preliminary preferred concept for the area, the southern portion of the Rolling Hills neighbourhood has been designated as reserve lands, meaning they wouldn’t be touched. The northern portion, however, has been slated for low- and medium-density residential development.
This potential change in the area, which is currently dominated by natural features with some larger houses, has left some Rolling Hills residents concerned that the change would affect what they signed up for when they bought or built their houses there.
“I fully understand the Ontario government has new density guidelines and designated large greenbelt areas,” Benjamin Perry, a resident of the Rolling Hills neighbourhood, said to councillors.
“But I don’t remember them ever saying we need to bulldoze an existing neighbourhood to achieve these targets.”
Ted Michalos, another resident in the area, said the possibility of designating part of Rolling Hills for development could have a domino effect.
“When you’re talking about children’s toys, it is great fun. But we’re talking about people’s homes. That’s the way the families of Rolling Hills view this proposal,” he said.
“You’re talking about redeveloping our homes.”
Michalos added that at meetings of Rolling Hills residents, a vast majority indicated they wanted to see little or no development in the area. He added, however, that should development start to take place, a neighbour would sell, meaning more development, and so on.
“The truth is once you make the first change, there’s going to be a second change. Lot after lot, houses after house, the dominoes are going to fall,” he said.
Not everyone saw the possible changes as the end of Rolling Hills, with one resident seeing it as a positive in the long run.
“It’s not the destruction of Rolling Hills — it’s more like the rebirth or rejuvenation of Rolling Hills, or parts of it,” resident James Nagy said.
“We have the right to develop and we want to develop.”
The designation of parts of Rolling Hills for low- and medium-density development is a departure from the conceptual community structure given the thumbs up by councillors at the end of 2017. In that map, the northern reaches of Rolling Hills were also slated as reserve lands.
Asked by Coun. Mike Salisbury as to why this change was made, staff responded that there had been some feedback from residents that development was wanted there and the city wanted to honour it.
Several councillors spoke on how all of Rolling Hills should be excluded from the Clair Maltby plans, while Mayor Cam Guthrie said the city should meet in a formalized manner with the neighbourhood’s residents ahead of the next meeting on the secondary plan, slated for June.
The preferred community structure for Clair Maltby will come before committee of the whole for a vote on June 5, and again to council on June 25.
The next phase of the project, which includes detailed environmental and servicing work, is expected to span from the third quarter of 2018 through until mid-2019.