Kilworth PPM Re: Revised Zoning for New Subdivision

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I attended last week’s public meeting regarding a revised re-zoning request being put forth for the Don Black lands. If you missed the first go around back in December 2013, just click here to see what happened then.

This most recent zoning application was a very, very different story from the first. On a side note, I was pleased to see some new faces amongst the crowd in attendance: some people I know but haven’t seen at a meeting before, some people that have recently moved to Kilworth, and others who have chosen to engage at this point.

For reference, here’s the public information packet. I’m hosting it myself since I don’t know how long the municipality will leave it up on their website. This was the information distributed to council and the public prior to the meeting – council only received it on May 22, just five days before the public meeting.

dbi-tridon-may272015-zoning-amendmentI was a few minutes late for the presentation from Tridon (who has replaced Stantec on the project). Here’s what I got from the presentation:

  • Asking for duplex, twinned, single detached, townhouses in the UR3 areas
  • Minimum 28m height is a typo, should read “maximum”
  • Claim that there will be three multi-use pathways – Daventry, Doan Drive, and the main north/south drag that will connect the South Winds Dev and Don Black dev, up to Glendon
  • Took inspiration from new 3-story walkup near Masonville for Block I
  • Talking about the school like it’s definitely going to be there; not a done deal, despite school board (which one?) expressing interest
  • Municipal staff asking to enhance Optimist Park; DBI/Tridon ready to place one or two soccer fields at Optimist Park; have retained park planner to help sort out the plan
  • Need to widen Glendon at two points, where new north/south street comes out and at Springfield Way

Questions I wrote down during the presentation (answers later):

  • Why is there such a massive difference between the proposal from December 2013 and this latest proposal?
  • It’s been almost 18 months since the original proposal came through. Why are we still at a phase where, really, there is no detail as to exactly what Don Black Investments and Tridon want to put on the land?
  • Who will pay for the streetlights on Glendon, and the eventual enhancement of Glendon/Vanneck/Coldstream/Jefferies (a.k.a. Five Corners)?

Questions and Answers:

  • Got clarification on what setback means, and they want to reduce it from 6m to 2.5m
  • Ken D. asked whether the traffic study had included cyclists or not; it didn’t
  • I followed up and asked why it hadn’t, and the answer was that the original study was very old and Tridon has never seen a traffic study that included cyclists
  • Al D is concerned about traffic, another 120 cars in the current development area; probably looking at ~1,000 cars mostly heading to London
  • Brian Lima, municipal engineer, municipality is looking at EA for Glendon Dr from bridge to 402, focus will be streetscape development; EA will produce baseline info to evaluate how to handle Glendon Dr
  • Mayor Edmondson says the want to get EA done before development starts
  • Al D asked when construction will start; Tridon went over the process, wastewater treatment pipeline still needs to be finished; hoping to have first housing done late 2016 or early 2017
  • Brian Lima says earliest EA will be complete is early 2017
  • Jane C, lives on Komoka Rd; does not support bylaw amendment application; OFA is calling for protection of multiple kinds of land, including this farm property; has a history with Tridon and protesting the way they do development in Komoka and her aunt’s land; much applause
  • Darren on behalf of Ratepayers Association; “I’m for development, but not this development. This development completely changes the face of Kilworth.” Lots of consistency now from river up to Stephen Moore and Baron Cres; and then there’s this proposal; pointing out how other developments by the same company are 40′ wide, 36′ wide, and 34′ wide; this is not for Kilworth
  • Ian T; how many more people is this going to bring? Average of 2.1 per household, but no one at Tridon wanted to do the math for us and give us a total number, potentially because the number of households to be built is still up in the air(?)
  • Zelinka Priamo representative (didn’t catch her name) has a problem with additional C1 (commercial) proposed as a big C1 hub is supposed to go on NE corner of Tunks and Glendon
  • New planning justification not submitted because DBI feels this is the same development with minor tweaks; this woman has been working on planning applications for 30 years and has never seen an application with such a huge lack of information
  • Jim C asks “Can I split an existing lot into a triplex?” Mayor says, “I don’t think you’d want that.” Jim responds “Exactly,” to a bit of laughter.
  • Victor N just moved here from Tecumseh, daughter suggested it as a beautiful area; retired from Canada Post management; seniors centre will likely be 3 or 4 floors, and many of those seniors won’t be able to get their mail; this plan will turn Kilworth into an area that’s no longer nice; no shopping, no buses; doesn’t make sense
  • Donna S is concerned that this doesn’t suit the existing neighbourhood; mentioned the 3 storey walkup in Masonville – it’s ugly, doesn’t belong here; very worried about traffic
  • How many cars is anticipated to exit onto Glendon Dr? 995 during AM peak time.
  • Parking and visitor parking would be put in place as per the bylaw(s) that require them

Answers to my questions:

  • The design is drastically different because the municipality asked us to go from two entrances to Glendon, down to one
  • Don’t have any idea what we want to market on C1 and some UR3 properties because we don’t have the zoning yet
  • Chances are that the conditions laid out by the County will say that the developer must pay for the new streetlights and enhancements to “Five Corners”

Later on I got a chance to read a statement I had prepared. It ended up being the final word of the night, though I didn’t intend it to be so. I was asked to cede the floor to others earlier in the night after asking my questions I had written down. The statement went, more or less, as follows:

I have some serious misgivings about the revised proposal being presented here today. Here are a few:

  1. This looks *nothing* like the original proposal presented December 4, 2013.
  2. I will say, on a positive note, that Daventry Way has been opened up. I appreciate that being taken into consideration after the last public participation meeting.
  3. On the other hand, the original proposal maintained a lot of flow with the existing settlement, and proposed wide path ways that would encourage active transport around the neighbourhood. In the documents we see today, those have been completely done away with.
  4. It appears that a 6 storey building is proposed for Block G. I fully understand the need for mixed housing, however a 6 storey building simply doesn’t make any sense outside of a larger community like Strathroy. People living in apartment buildings typically expect highly walkable areas, which, much as I enjoy living in this area, Kilworth and Komoka do not qualify as highly walkable areas, with Kilworth currently receiving a Walk Score of 9.
  5. The proposal doesn’t appear to contain anything that would significantly alter the Walk Score.
  6. Information about proposed heights for several blocks are missing from the proposal.
  7. The street design, frankly, is pathetic and will make the proposed settlement a nightmare to navigate. It doesn’t use the current set of best practices being used in the most walkable neighbourhoods worldwide.

Overall, this proposal simply contains far too much density for the area. I was mostly in favour of the original, but this has taken a drastic turn for the worse. I was happy to defend the original proposal, despite its minor flaws, but I cannot, in good conscience, ask Councillor DeViet to vote in favour of this proposal as it stands before us today.

That got a round of applause, as did many other statements made and questions asked by members of the public throughout the night. Mayor Edmondson had a hard time maintaining order at several points as people got fed up with the answers – and in some cases non-answers provided by Tridon. Needless to say it didn’t go well for Tridon and Don Black, and we hope the next version of the zoning application is very different. Whether the planner, Ben Puzanov, mandates another public meeting for the next iteration remains to be seen.

On Safety

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As we reach the beginning of the voting period, I wanted to talk about safety in Middlesex Centre, and specifically Ward 4.

Over the next 10 years there is going to be a great deal of road reconstruction happening. We have an infrastructure funding gap of roughly $42,000,000 worth of infrastructure repairs that need to be addressed as soon as possible, and roughly another $43,000,000 worth of infrastructure repairs that need to be addressed over the next 10 years.

In that infrastructure there will no doubt be roads that need to be repaired and rebuilt. I asked municipal staff recently whether any of those roads were slated to include bike lanes, and I got this response:

“At the present time, no specific bike lanes / routes have been slated for inclusion with any one particular reconstruction project.”

As a pedestrian, cyclist, and driver, I find this extremely disappointing. The staff member goes on to remind me that bikes can share the road with vehicles, and while that’s true it’s not really a solution. All over the world we’re seeing municipalities of every size embracing dedicated bike lanes as part of a solution towards making roads safer, for both cyclists and drivers, and yet we have none slated here in Middlesex Centre.

Additionally, there are a host of issues we need to explore and determine how to resolve. These are the types of issues and potential solutions people are discussing with me:

  • Replacing intersections like Glendon and Vanneck/Jefferies with roundabouts
  • Paving the shoulders of Glendon Drive and installing bike lanes – this would make the road safer for all users
  • Replacing some STOP signs with YIELD signs – this has been shown to be effective in some situations
  • Incorporating/mandating the “complete streets” philosophy in new developments and reconstructions
  • Curbing speeding in residential areas — ideas here include introducing speed bumps, reducing the standard speed limit to 40kph, building narrower streets, etc.
  • Installing a traffic mirror at the Coldstream Rd underpass
  • The school crossing at Fieldrun Drive and Oxbow Drive could also include installing rumble strips, increasing police presence for an extended period of time, eliminating the back-and-forth with the TVDSB and funding a crossing guard, and so on.

We have to put a stop to the rising number of collisions on our roads, and some of this will include coordination with the County and even the City of London. Ultimately we continue to see mitigation methods put in place that are not working, with little follow-up, or a lack of communication about what else can be done.

You love living in this area. I do too. And that’s why safety is so important to me, to you, our children, and even adults who are trying to stay active. We can do better!

Together we can build communities that are connected, respected, and protected. Vote for Derek Silva for Councillor of Ward 4!

On Communication

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Almost every time I speak to someone about my campaign for Councillor of Ward 4, especially when canvassing, I talk about communication. Middlesex Centre does occasionally sending out the CentreLine, a small feel-good pamphlet about things happening around the municipality. It’s mostly fluff though – the last one talked about the new splash pad, public skating rates at the arena, etc.

Where’s the newsletter or pamphlet about the serious stuff? Where are the public announcements (other than the website) about public participation meetings? Where is the easy-to-access mechanism for feedback on things like new subdivisions, or to see how your Councillor voted on an issue?

The reality is that it isn’t there. These things simply do not exist now in Middlesex Centre, and it is time that changed.

As Councillor of Ward 4, I pledge to:

  • Hold quarterly town halls where citizens can ask questions, and I will answer them as best I can
  • Send out a regular newsletter that details recent Council decisions, important decisions coming up, how I plan to vote and why, along with background info
    • I have already begun collecting email addresses for this newsletter while canvassing, and you can add yourself to it at the top of the page! I will only use this list in the event I’m elected Councillor.
  • Send out notifications about upcoming public participation meetings
  • Send recaps of public participation meetings and other major meetings
  • Write regular blog entries about upcoming municipal business, where I stand and why — residents will be able to comment here and provide feedback
  • Introduce a measure to implement an online platform to easily view issues up for debate, background info, and even citizen voting on those issues — the current method of viewing PDFs is not efficient, or sufficient (e.g. DemocracyOS and Loomio)
  • Introduce a measure to implement a metric-tracking system similar to the City of St. Albert’s StATRACKER
  • Introduce a measure for Middlesex Centre to look at duplicating the State of Iowa’s snow plow tracker system across the county – this would be a partnership with the county, other nearby municipalities, and the City of London
    • This is about safety, yes, but also about being transparent with regards to how well snow removal is happening and where the plows are; I think it would set a great example to lead on something we all know is coming every year in this great nation of ours.
  • Introduce a measure to explore live streaming committee and council meetings, as well as archiving them online
    • This would benefit residents and the press as well, providing a reference for any statements made by Councillors or confusing back-and-forths
    • I would like to keep the initial capital expense for this initiative under $1,000 and use an existing service that would make this far less expensive than how other municipalities handle live streaming

And really, these are just some of the things we can do. I have already made myself available via Twitter, Facebook, email, phone, and even at home. I will continue to re-visit the most popular methods and make sure that the mediums residents use, I use also. I want to be your representative. I want to find out what’s important to you. Only together can we build communities that are connected, respected, and protected.

What’s your position on Arva Fire Hall?

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This is a question I’ve been hearing a lot lately, especially since closing Arva Fire Hall was just put to a vote last week. My understanding is that a decision was deferred for a year, which I was thankful to hear, but it also means I’ll be voting on it if I’m elected Councillor. So to make my position very clear, I’m posting it publicly.

I took the time to read the staff report and recommendations. While I tend to appreciate the effort that staff and consultants put into such reports, I must say that I cannot bring myself to agree that Arva’s fire hall should be eliminated for a number of reasons:

  • There will, no doubt, be additional growth in Arva in the future. Arva’s fire hall is also the second busiest in Middlesex Centre!
  • Eliminating the fire hall in Arva puts its residents more than 11km away from a Middlesex Centre fire hall, resulting in an instant increase to property insurance rates (property insurers use 8km as their benchmark) unless the municipality has an agreement in place that London’s nearest fire halls will service Arva.
  • As outlined in the report, existing volunteers may choose to not support the Ilderton or Bryanston stations, resulting in a decrease in the number of firefighters available for an increased workload.
  • If the Arva Flour Mill ever catches on fire… well, I think we all know how flour reacts to fire, and the resulting damage could be devastating to multiple properties in the area depending on the severity of the incident.

So, that’s a long way of saying that I’m against closing any existing fire halls. We have a large municipality and need all the coverage we can get, and we need to ensure our volunteers have the equipment they need to respond to emergencies. I want to work together with citizens to build communities that are connected, respected, and protected.

“Do you have any signs?”

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The more people I talk to, the more frequently I hear the question, “Do you have any signs?”

I’m flattered that people are asking, but for several reasons the answer is, “Sorry, I don’t.” Here’s why.

My platform includes talk of fiscal responsibility. It is something I truly believe in, especially when you are spending other people’s money. We have all seen too often, whether here in Middlesex Centre or around the province, just how easy it is to be flippant with funds provided by others.

When I talk of fiscal responsibility, I am talking about how I treat my own money, and how I would treat the municipal budget. It isn’t something to simply read over and pass. It’s something that can always be under going minor tweaks in order to get the best value for the dollars being spent. The Kaizen approach, if you will. And looking for better and less expensive ways to do the same thing is not something that should simply be reserved for budget time.

I don’t look at my personal finances once a year. I am always evaluating whether I’m spending the right, or least, amount of money for the services I consume. If I can make something more inexpensive but attain the same result (e.g. property insurance, Internet service, phone service, purchasing groceries), I do. The same should be able to be said about any government. And as I outline in my platform – it’s not about cutting jobs, but finding better and more efficient ways to do things.

So instead of choosing to spend hard-earned campaign contributions on a bunch signs that would not be used for another four years – to the tune of at least $5 per sign – I have chosen to knock on every single door in the ward. You will see me at events, you might see me at your door, at the arena, or even walking/running around Kilworth. Feel free to engage with me at any of these times, because I feel we can get a lot more done speaking to each other.