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Townhouse development sparks Bradford housing density debate

Should this development stay low density? A developer wants to build 20 townhomes off the 8th Line in Bradford West Gwillimbury, about which neighbours and councillors have privacy, parking and density concerns
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Coun. Raj Sandhu, right, speaks during a Jan. 8 meeting, as town CAO Geoff McKnight looks on. Jenni Dunning/BradfordToday

Town of Bradford West Gwillimbury staff are looking for answers about local housing density after council deferred a decision this week on whether to approve a townhouse development.

Caprinox Developments submitted a subdivision draft plan for 2676 8th Line, just east of Noble Drive, for 20 townhouses.

Several neighbours complained about the development during an open forum at a Committee of the Whole meeting Tuesday, citing a lack of privacy because residents of the elevated townhouses would be able to look into their homes, and a fear of increased parking issues in that area.

But the draft proposal meets all criteria, except two on-street parking spaces, said Ryan Windle, the town’s manager of community planning.

“If we’re concerned about density, what does that mean?” he said during a meeting of the committee, which is made up of BWG council members.

The development has been in the works for a few years, with two public meetings held back in 2016 — the second held due to a “range of concerns,” according to a recent town staff report.

“Town staff support the approval of the application for Draft Plan of Subdivision, subject to conditions,” the report read.

During this week’s meeting, councillors said the developer’s plans have not changed greatly over the years.

“After all those meetings, they came back and it’s minus two houses,” said Coun. Peter Ferragine.

With the plan as is, on-street parking is “still a mess,” said Coun. Raj Sandhu. “This is going to push into other areas. In this state, I can’t support it.”

There are often lineups of cars parked along nearby Gardiner Drive, and an extra 20 units would add even more chaos, said Bradford resident Steve Foster during an open forum at Tuesday’s meeting.

Caprinox Developments has now applied to amend the zoning bylaw to change the property from low density, to medium density.

However, after hearing additional complaints from local residents, several councillors argued the property should remain low density.

“The issue still is there’s too much density. There’s too many units on that property,” said Coun. Ron Orr. “The height of them bothers me a little.”

Added Ferragine: “(It should) stay as a low density property and be built as a beautiful court.”

Coun. Gary Lamb said the problem is the town should build higher density developments first, instead of trying to incorporate them into established low density neighbourhoods.

However, Coun. Gary Baynes questioned whether the town needs to be so strict on Caprinox Developments keeping the property as low density, when it could potentially build a medium density development with other types of housing, such as semi-detached, that might diminish residents’ privacy concerns.

“They’ve got to infill somewhere,” he said.

The committee deferred the issue back to town staff to see whether the developer will make any additional changes.

The town can make recommendations, but the final proposal will be up to the developer, said Windle.

Staff is expected to report back to committee by Jan. 22 for its next meeting.




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