Proposed Development at 70 Waverley Drive

Re: Proposed Zoning By-law Amendment (ZC0613) and consequent Proposed Development at 70 Waverley Drive

The above proposal will soon come before council. It concerns a land swap between the City and the Guelph Country Club. I am writing today to offer the following comments on this proposal.

1.This proposal involves a relatively large section of Windsor Park which is located near the intersection of Waverley Drive and Stevenson Street in the city’s northeast end. The Guelph Country Club is proposing to build residential housing on this land which it hopes to obtain from the City.

This section of Windsor Park is a naturalized green space where the city planted trees approximately 15 years ago. These trees are now well established and flourishing. This naturalized green space is now providing wildlife habitat as well as other ecological benefits that can be attributed to natural areas. As part of Windsor Park, this area is an asset to the neighbourhood. Many nearby residents walk alongside this area and can enjoy the variety of trees and other wild plants as they bloom throughout the year.

Some people have described this area as an “eye sore” or “unimproved land”. Natural green spaces are often referred to as “unimproved land” by uninformed people. This small green space is accessible to citizens and a visual asset to the many residents who travel by it each day. In my opinion, this land should remain as a naturalized area of Windsor Park.

2.Please keep in mind that this is city-owned parkland, a part of Windsor Park. This is not brown field where we want to see infill development happening. This is a publicly-owned park and as such, is not suitable for residential development in my opinion. The Guelph Country Club will apparently benefit substantially from this proposal. The amount of land involved in the proposed transfer appears to be much more favourable to the golf club than to the City (see staff report). I feel this is inappropriate and not in the best interest of Guelph residents.

3.At some point in the future, the Guelph Country Club lands will likely be developed for residential housing as the golf club possibly moves out of the city to a larger piece of land. The naturalized area of Windsor Park will become an even more significant green space in the face of development there.

As well, the proposed development would eliminate any possibility for the extension of Stevenson Street to accommodate some of the traffic from the north area of the city. As it stands now, Windsor Street (as well as Inverness and Balmoral Roads) takes much of the traffic originating north of Woodlawn Road, acting as a short-cut for traffic heading south into the city. This is the only route available between Victoria Road and Woolwich Street. An access road further west at Riverview Road would be inappropriate for that location. Residents in the north area want to go south into the centre of the city to shop, particularly for groceries. Now would be the appropriate time to plan for transportation access.

4.The staff report for this proposal refers to “Places to Grow” policy and that this property would be a good infill opportunity. If that were the case, then a higher density of residential housing such as now exists adjacent to Windsor Park and in the immediate neighbourhood, should be considered. This could include townhouses and apartments rather than the proposed detached, single family, more sprawled development. With Windsor Park behind, and the Kensington Y child care facility across the road, this property would be ideal for a higher density development, if development is to occur.

5. The following are comments on the Staff Report (07-35) to council (no date):
On the top of page 2, it states that there are single detached residential properties to the south of the subject lands; however, the Kensington Y Child Care Centre is located there. Further south beyond the Y Centre, there is single detached residential but further east there are more townhouses and apartments which is not mentioned in the report.
Also on page 2, I note that the Official Plan designation is General Residential but that appears to apply to many city parks, not just Windsor Park.
At the bottom of page 2, it is apparent that the Guelph Country Club will substantially benefit from the Proposed Land Exchange. The golf club will receive nearly five times the land that the city will receive! The permanent easement mentioned will not become part of the park and will likely not be open to the public.
At the bottom of page 3, the report notes that at a public meeting, “the majority of people in attendance were supportive of the proposal”. I attended that meeting and to my recollection, only 5 people from the audience spoke: 3 were opposed, 2 were in favour, one of which was a member of the golf club. All the rest of the people in attendance were either golf club members who are the proponents of this proposal, various consultants, several city councillors, or city staff. To my mind, the majority of actual residents not associated with the golf club who attended were opposed to the proposal.
The report fails to note that the city planted a number of trees of several species on this property approximately 15 years ago. Presumably these trees were planted to encourage naturalization of this area. Since then, many other species of plants have appeared and the area is becoming more diverse creating more wildlife habitat.
On page 4, the report notes that a letter of support for the development was received from the principal of Waverley Drive Public School. The letter referred to a safety issue for children. I speculate that this concerns children in the older grades that sometime spend their lunch time in the naturalized area of Windsor Park. Damage to the trees and property of the Guelph Country Club occasionally occurs. These older children have also been observed using the playground equipment inappropriately in the formal area of Windsor Park possibly causing damage. If someone at the school were to take the initiative to use the naturalized area of the park as a place of learning and stewardship, a significant teaching resource and opportunity could exist there. City park staff could approach the principal and staff at Waverley Drive school to create a partnership. Older grade school children need activities at lunch time to occupy their time productively.
I was not informed about the “Tree Appraisal” noted on page 5 and therefore have not reviewed it. I note that the description provided on page 5 does not give a complete list of all trees that I know are there but rather mentions the “lesser”ones. Many of these “lesser” species occur in residents’ yards, city streets, and other naturalized green spaces and city parks including Riverside Park. All trees provide an ecological function whether it is food and shelter for birds, cleaning air pollution, helping maintain water quality, moderating local climatic conditions, uptake of CO2 from the air, etc. The report appears to present only the worst side of this vegetation community.
As noted earlier, the report refers to “Places to Grow” policy on page 6. If this was a valid concern in this case, then higher density residential development would surely be appropriate and desirable. But since this is city/publicly owned parkland, I feel that it is inappropriate for infill development.
Also on page 6, the report states that “the proposed lots are consistent with the form, scale and setbacks along Waverley Drive”. This is true if you look to the west and don’t look to the east. However, turning to the east along Waverley Drive, one sees only townhouses, duplexes, and apartments.

In summary, I believe this proposed development is inappropriate for this naturalized green space. I also believe that using city-owned parkland for residential development is inappropriate. And finally, I feel that the land-swap deal proposed by the Guelph Country Club is inappropriate and a disservice to the Waverley-Windsor neighbourhood and the citizens of Guelph. I respectfully ask that you vote no to this proposed zoning by-law amendment.

If you have the opportunity this weekend, drive or cycle past this property and get a first hand look. It’s not the “unimproved eye sore” that it’s made out to be.                 CC