Debate begins on residential project proposal

Gregg Chamberlain
EAP
Supporters for and against a proposed residential project in Vankleek Hill spoke up during a special public meeting.

“This looks more like a city-type subdivision plan,” said Julie Beaudoin, a village resident, during the May 28 special council session dealing with several zoning applications.

Beaudoin referred to developer Yvon Blais’ proposal for a 331-unit residential development on a 26-acre property located near the village core, between Stanley Avenue west of the Ottawa Central Railway line. On the east side of the railway line is the village’s industrial/commercial park area along Terry Fox Drive, where the Beau’s Natural Brewery and other heavy commercial or light industrial facilities are located.

Blais’ proposed residential development would include 213 single-family dwellings and 118 semi-detached dwellings. The developer’s plans call for a seven-phase project over a 10- to 12-year period, with 40 to 50 homes built during each phase of the development.

The location of the proposed development is within the designated village settlement area for Vankleek Hill, which is subject to both township and United Counties of Prescott-Russell (UCPR) planning approvals. Site access would be via Stanley Avenue, Higginson Street, and Farmer Avenue. The land is zoned for low-density residential development and May 28 presentation is part of the subdivision draft plan approval process.

Development opposition

Beaudoin and several other speakers, including Ward 3 Councillor Violaine Tittley, expressed concern about the large number of units proposed for the 26-acre site, and how it would affect the village’s overall profile.

“This would be a huge change in the character of the community,” said Councillor Tittley, adding that the overall village population density would triple when the development was finished and occupied.

“I am definitely against a large expansion,” said Andy Perrault, who expressed concern about the effect on the village’s green space and local wildlife habitats. “Think long and hard before you decide. The forests will disappear and (community) magic along with it. This project is just too big.”

Development support

"We need new housing," said Louise Sproule, a Higginson Street resident. “I think it’s inevitable that people will want to come here.”

Sproule noted that Vankleek Hill’s various festivals and other events make it more popular as both a tourism destination and a place to live. She observed that the density issue and lack of green space as part of the development are the main concerns about the Blais project.

“We’re really adding a small village to our village,” she said. “If we have more people come to live here, I think it would be a wonderful thing. I just want it to be a good thing.”

“I agree green space is very important,” said Mayor Normand Riopel, adding that a large development like the Blais project could be a benefit to the village.

The township planning department will prepare a report for council based on the information and comments during the public meeting. Final approval by both township council and UCPR council is need for the subdivision draft plan. A 20-day public appeal period would follow from those decisions.