It comes as no surprise that a development has been proposed for what we know as the Bodnar Lands at the west end of Lake Avenue, here in Carleton Place. These some 45 acres or so are clearly visible now that the developer has stripped the land.
It comes as no surprise that the developer’s initial plans calls for some 612 housing units in a variety of forms.It comes as no surprise that the town council has already agreed to take a cash-in lieu of actual parkland contribution from the developer.
It comes as no surprise then that the design has no parkland or playgrounds of any sort within the development. If you then look at the overall map of the town, you will see that there are no defined public green spaces nor playgrounds in the entire area west of Napoleon Street and south of Lake Avenue West, a huge area. The sole exception is a modest playground on the west edge of Westview Heights.
But wait, there is a surprise. Developers are required, by law, to create storm water waste management processes. In Carleton Place, the preferred method seems to be the creation of storm waste water management ponds. I prefer to call these “lagoons” as they are not fresh water recreation facilities. In any case, that is another story. Other towns have other less intrusive ways of handling this water.
The surprise here is the staff recommendation that the developer be allowed to build this “lagoon” on our parkland (in this case Roy Brown Park). At first, council seemed to accept this idea but in the June meeting another vote was held. The vote was 5-2 to not allow this private developer’s “lagoon” on our parkland. That seemed to be a very simple and clear message.
Lo and behold, yet again, a recommendation comes before council to allow this same “lagoon” on this same parkland, in a slightly different location. This recommendation comes before council in complete disregard for the vote just held. What gives?
The council is being dragged into the semantics of the function and quality of the “lagoon” when it should only be concerned with the issue of selling, trading or bartering public parkland for the benefit of a developer.
The developer should build this “lagoon” on their own land. Better yet, there are alternatives. The public is told that the pond will be attractive. If so, then all the more reason to build houses around it on the developer’s lands. Sounds like a premium pricing opportunity to me.
We are also told that the Roy Brown Park will in itself require a “lagoon” as future park development takes place…gee: a playing field and a paved parking lot and some nature trails. Why would a paved parking lot be required? Take away the pavement and that sounds a lot like the successful Brunton Park in Beckwith. It does not require a pond and is similar in size.
We absolutely need to be certain that storm waste water be as clean as possible when finally released to the Mississippi River, in this case a very short distance from our drinking water intake. The developer’s response when the 5-2 vote came down was, more or less, that if on their own property, they will build the “lagoon” wherever they like. In this case it will be as close to Lake Avenue as possible as it is the most convenient location. I thought we still had regulatory requirements. Do we?
So here we are. We continue to allow new neighbourhood development without internal green space, more importantly, community meeting spaces. The Brigil development is a good example of positive planning. It at least has a decent size playground right in the middle of the homes.
It may come as a surprise to some that this is not the only development moving forward in Carleton Place. Several thousand residences are in the planning stages. When developers have finished off and sold out their projects, they are gone. All future responsibility falls onto the municipality, that is to say all taxpayers. All future repairs and problems will require our tax dollars. The developer is gone. Sure, the upfront development charges are substantial but long used up 30 years out.
I have already heard the argument that building the “lagoon” on Roy Brown Park frees up land for the developer to build more houses which in turn generates more tax dollars. That is quite true. The problem is that the tax levy is not a profit generator for the town. In most cases, the town barely breaks even over the long term. Arena improvements, fire dept. upgrades, library upgrades, swim pool maintenance and the ongoing need for more of everything in the public domain has to be paid for. If the new developments don’t yield much revenue, why not at least make them as well planned as they can be?
By well-planned I mean with some open space, some family-friendly features, not just packed in residences with a few trees along an occasional so-called boulevard that planners are now calling a Linear Park. Give me a break!
Council already voted 5-2 no on this deal yet another vote is scheduled for Aug.16; a special meeting no less.
Do read Janet McGuiness’s letter to the editor
I guess the Town has publicly issued its statement and it’s stance on the Roy Brown Park Storm Water Pond prior to committee/councils approval/denial even though it was soundly defeated last time by a 5-2 vote.
Stormwater Management and Roy Brown Park
I was going to comment on this article here but nah it would be tooooooooo long.
Come on down next Tues (Council) and listen or make your own comment (pro/against). You should be able to register to speak.–MGJSmith