Council approved Yvon Blais’ proposal for a 331-unit residential project during a special session of council June 25. The approval comes with certain conditions attached dealing with concerns like the need for green space, along with guarantees for road development, including sidewalks, fencing, and draining as part of the first phase and all future phases of the development.
The special council session followed a second public hearing on the development proposal, during which greenspace needs, impact on local wildlife habitats, and the potential effect of a new high-density residential development on Vankleek Hill’s community profile and character were the main concerns for speakers.
“It really does feel like a suburban development,” said Kim Wilson, who also asked if Blais would give preference to local contractors for working on the project and buying made-in-Ontario materials during the construction.“We will definitely be looking at local,” replied Blais, noting that most of the planning studies done on the project over the past two years were contracted out to local experts. “If the price justifies, we will also definitely buy local.”
“Without green space and parks, people will look to buy elsewhere,” said Linda Crawford, regarding how attractive the residential project would be for new families looking to settle in Vankleek Hill.
“The green space is very important to me,” said Blais, adding that he plans to dedicate more than the five per cent standard allocation of dedicated parkland required for any new development. He also noted that he has met with representatives for the local cross-country ski club to guarantee continued access for their members to existing ski pathways through the proposed development area.
Other concerns expressed during the public hearing included the noise and vibration effects in nearby neighbourhoods from the increased traffic during development construction.
The location for the development is a 26-acre site, with entry points from Stanley Avenue, Higginson Street and Farmer Avenue. The draft plan now goes to the United Counties of Prescott-Russell for review. If approved there is a 20-day period for appealing the development proposal to the province.