More than 200 residents attended the Shaping Ninth Line public engagement sessions in early June. There were two sessions, the first at the Garry Morden Fire Training Centre and the second at Stephen Lewis Secondary School. Both meetings were similar in format, starting with an open house with poster boards lining the outside of the room available for viewing. At 7 pm, City officials welcomed all attendees to the gathering. The consultant team made a presentation about the potential land use scenarios and highlighted some of the challenges faced by the City in accommodating the provincially-mandated growth targets and the alignment of the future 407 Transitway. The consultants then facilitated a public feedback exercise to hear from residents about the content of the presentation and also their desires for the development of the Ninth Line lands. Planning staff welcomed and appreciated the thoughtful comments that were shared out of the exercise and will consider how best to incorporate them into the land use policy that is next to be drafted.

I, too, want to express my appreciation for the many residents who took time to share their ideas and ask questions at these meetings. The process of development is complicated as there are many external influences that the City has little or no control over and must take into account. When municipalities develop land, it is the provincial government, through its Places to Grow Act, that dictates the type and amount of growth targets that must be met, including mandated “people and jobs per hectare” requirements. This forces the City to plan for a mix of land uses. The planning framework for Ninth Line also directs that future development must be supportive of transit, active transportation and goods movement. The 74 metre buffer for the future Transitway has a significant impact on land use scenarios. It might be a nice idea to plan for only trails, parks and passive use on these lands, but that doesn’t fit with the provincial requirements nor does it match the City’s strategic plan for building sustainable, diverse, stable neighbourhoods. It’s important to note that the City owns only a few chunks of land in the corridor. The province owns some of the land and there are many private landowners who also have a vested interest in the future uses within the corridor. Also, parks and trails aren’t free. This kind of development for public enjoyment is often paid for through fees charged to developers of residential, commercial or industrial properties. Alternatively, tax payers foot the bill.

The process for developing the Ninth Line lands now shifts into Phase 2 which includes the completion of a host of important studies: growth management analysis, fiscal impact analysis, transportation study completion, subwatershed study completion, water/wastewater servicing study completion, urban design guidelines. These are expected to last till the end of the year. A final Ninth Line land study report and public workshop stakeholder meetings are planned for the second quarter of 2017 with a presentation to the Planning and Developmet Committee shortly thereafter.

Originally posted June 14, 2016. Updated July 6, 2016.