FERGUS – Some 7,000 dwellings will be added to Fergus when the Fergus South secondary plan is realized, and Centre Wellington council sees opportunity to make the development beautiful, sustainable, with plenty of active transportation amenities for residents.

Township staff, planners with MHBC Planning and developer/landowners have been working together for two years to establish a master environmental servicing plan for the lands, that stretch south of Fergus to 2nd Line and cross Hwy. 6 from Guelph Street to the west and Scotland Street/Jones Baseline to the east.

That plan, which was presented to council at its July 26 meeting, also set out potential land uses within the area.

MHBC planner Dave Aston said that early on, employment lands were part of the plan. But since the province has prioritized housing, and since the township is developing a business park in north Fergus, any employment in Fergus South will primarily be office and retail.

The plan marks out water and sewer lines and storm water management ponds.

Aston said the experts are deciding whether to use gravity drainage or a pumping station method but that won’t change the route of the underground infrastructure.

Collector roads have also been mapped out.

McQueen Blvd. will extend east to Scotland Street and there will be two other collector roads – one running from McQueen to 2nd Line and the other running from Hwy. 6 to Scotland Street.

A roundabout has been suggested where these two roads intersect. 

A large natural heritage feature runs diagonally across both halves of the land, and these will be maintained. Trails are proposed to run alongside these features.

In terms of land use, properties on both sides of Hwy. 6 will be in a mixed-use corridor with medium density housing and then low density housing tapering away to the eastern and western boundaries.

Neighbourhood and community parks and a school are also part of the plan.

 “The plan will establish height and massing,” Aston said, adding an urban design guideline will be established through the site plan or plan of subdivision processes.

 “We want good quality designs and architecture,” he said. “We want to create a space that’s inviting to the community.”

 The area at 2nd Line and Highway 6 will be zoned “commercial gateway” and there is opportunity to make this a very special entrance to Centre Wellington.

Resident Donnie Poirier was worried the extended McQueen Street will suffer the same issues Millburn Street residents complain about today – namely speed and dangerous driving.

 And he hoped the homes would not all be clad with siding.

 “That Garafraxa development is a huge area and it’s a disaster to look at,” he said. “All siding – a real eyesore. It’s good to hear you’ll try to do this tasteful.”

Cindy Lindsay runs a farm in the area and is worried about Minimum Distance Separation and being able to continue farming once all these homes are filled.

 “I hope the new homeowners will appreciate the nuances of living beside a farm,” she said, adding berms along 2nd Line would help with odour, privacy, and would look a lot better than a line of fence.

 She also had concerns about traffic and how people on the west side of Highway 6 will get in and out of the subdivision.

 But the point she really wanted to stress is that with climate change at our doorstep, there’s opportunity for sustainable development, with green roofs, solar panels and electric vehicle charging stations in the design. 

“Wouldn’t it be amazing if this subdivision did not become another cookie cutter development,” she said.

Lindsay also talked about the gateway feature at the entrance to town and how Fergus could do a better job than other communities. 

“Right now you see a plaza and fast food chain,” she said.

 Robert Mitchell lives on Barnett Crescent and Trevor Nemett on Cummings Crescent.

Those streets, along with Chambers Present meet up with Guelph Street and are known as “the crescents.”

The lots there are quite large with potential to add additional housing. But not if they are not hooked up to township water and wastewater services.

“Our primary concern is to make sure water and sewage are available to the crescents,” Mitchell said. “Our lots are on septic and we can’t develop.”

Nemett agreed, adding he’s also concerned about losing privacy, especially if an apartment building goes up next to his backyard.

“Right now, there’s a row of trees but the plan shows a road,” Nemett said. “I hope those trees can remain. Medium density worries me.”

Aston liked Lindsay’s idea of berms along 2nd Line and agreed the gateway feature has the potential to be unique.

He said the water and wastewater plan does not include adding the crescents, “but it doesn’t preclude the opportunity to connect in the future.”

He also noted that the “rural/urban interface” will be part of design considerations.

Mayor Shawn Watters was pleased to see the existing hedgerows are to be preserved and hoped traffic calming measures could be built into the road design when the project reaches that point.

Other councillors echoed concerns raised by residents – traffic calming, sustainable development, maintaining green spaces, adding active transportation routes, and ensuring the rural/urban interface works for farmers and urban dwellers.

 Aston said the project will be built in phases. The first will be in the north part of the plan in areas that can connect with the existing water and wastewater infrastructure.

The rest of the project will be done once the infrastructure is in place.

Aston estimated that the first phase would take three years and the entire project might be done over 10 years.

“I really respect that you … took public input and incorporated it into the plan,” said councillor Denis Craddock. “And I love that this conversation is going towards the line of innovation and sustainability for the future. I’m excited to see what this brings.”

This was not a decision meeting and therefore councillor Bronwynne Wilton was able to attend.

Her husband is a partner with MHSB and she often has to declare a conflict of interest when the planning firm is representing an applicant.

Aston said he will take away the comments he heard at the meeting as the group finalizes the master environmental servicing plan. The plan will return to council for a decision at a future date.

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Joanne Shuttleworth