Residents rally against proposed changes to Sunderland subdivision
A raucous crowd turned out to the Sunderland Memorial Arena Monday (May 29) for a public meeting on proposed changes to the Kaitlin subdivision.
More than 100 residents attended the session, raising a number of concerns about the company’s proposal that would allow 268 homes to be built during the second phase of construction, an increase from the 207 initially approved.
Township council will render a decision on rezoning the property, while Durham Region and the Ontario Municipal Board have authority over revisions to the plan of subdivision. Water and sewer capacity in the village would also need to be expanded before the project could proceed.
Bryce Jordan, a planning consultant hired by the company, explained that the overall design of the subdivision will essentially remain unchanged as the 61 additional units will be accommodated by dropping lot sizes.
“We’re looking to the future…Relatively speaking, these units are more affordable,” he said.
“We’re looking to offer a range of choices.”
That explanation clearly didn’t sit well with the dozens of residents in attendance, who raised a plethora of concerns with the proposal.
Ralph Maleus — who is waiting to move into his new home in the 90-home first phase of the development, which is currently under construction — accused the company of “misleading” consumers by changing its future plans.
“When we bought into this subdivision…we liked the plan that was laid out,” he said.
“Suddenly those plans have changed.”
He urged members of council to ensure that any revisions to the plan be made to suit the existing community.
“You don’t put a highrise in Beaverton and you don’t put V8 (engine) in a Beetle.”
Tina Brogan wholeheartedly agreed.
“We moved to Sunderland because of the beauty and quaintness of the town. How is this going to benefit the community?”
Residents outlined a number of concerns throughout the night, particularly around community safety.
“This design is going to be a racetrack. You’re looking for trouble,” said Denise Wilson.
“We’re going to need more paramedics, more fire trucks and more police,” added Deanelle McGriskin.
Others worried about the impact the development would have on Sunderland Public School as well as community services for youth.
“We don’t have enough services for the youth in Sunderland now,” Denise Marsh said.
She urged members of council to put the needs of the community ahead of developers’ profit.
“If you’re going to pimp us out, at least pimp us out as a call girl and not a hooker,” she said, prompting a gale of laughter and applause from the crowd.
The response from residents certainly wasn’t surprising, as the development has been one of the most controversial issues dealt with by township council in recent memory.
When first proposed back in 2004, it included slightly more than 300 homes – as well as a championship golf course featuring a year-round banquet facility and clubhouse – more than 270 acres.
Due to the Province’s Greenbelt legislation, which essentially halted development outside of the established urban boundary, the proposal was altered to include 345 homes over 68 acres.
There were other substantial changes to the design prior a pair of public meetings in the summer of 2005 and January of the following year and it was revised yet again before township council granted approval in February 2007, followed by regional council.
Billing themselves as the Concerned Citizens of Sunderland, a group of residents filed an to the Ontario Municipal Board, citing concerns with the overall design of the subdivision and its integration into the existing community, use of green space, the environmental impact the development could have, as well as the limited water and sewer capacity.
An agreement between the group and the developer was reached in a mediation session in February 2008 that allowed the project to proceed.
Work on the first phase, which consists of 90 homes, got underway in early 2016.
In addition to the revisions being sought, a consulting firm retained by the company submitted a letter to the Province requesting an additional 74.5 hectares owned by the company be included in the village’s urban boundary to allow more homes to be built.
“Doing so would provide the Township of Brock with the flexibility to determine, in conjunction with the region, where growth could occur in the future. In the current planning context, Sunderland has no room to grow because the greenbelt boundary directly abuts the urban area,” the letter, which was discussed by township council in March, reads.
The land in question has been designated as protected countryside in the Province’s Greenbelt Plan and is immediately adjacent to the company’s 35.6-hectare property that is currently under construction.
The letter was submitted as part of the Province’s recently concluded review of planning legislation, including the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe and the Greenbelt Plan.