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Province seeks development-friendly land use changes before property sales


The province wants to sell off two Oakville properties that it no longer needs. But first, it wants changes to the town’s official plan to allow those lands to be developed.

Details of the changes – which would allow business employment growth on a property near Kingsford Gardens Park, as well as residential towers on a Trafalgar Road property near the 407 – will be up for discussion at the town's planning and development council meeting on Jan. 23.

Business employment proposed for Sherwood Heights Drive property

A vacant property across the street from the popular Kingsford Gardens Park could be used for manufacturing facilities, warehousing, office space or hotels, if Infrastructure Ontario succeeds in an application to allow business employment use on the land.

The 7.4 hectare (18.3 acre) property near the Ford Drive highway exit was originally reserved for possible infrastructure use and designated as Parkway Belt land.

Town of Oakville
Town of Oakville

The province says it is no longer needed for that purpose and plans to sell it off.

A concept plan suggests that four buildings could be housed on the site, but that plan is for illustration only and not up for approval. Future development would require additional town approvals.

During a public meeting and in emails sent to town planners, local residents expressed concern about traffic, the loss of green space in the community, and the impact of noise and air pollution on users of the nearby park.

Kingsford Gardens Park is home to soccer fields, a dog park, community gardens and a new sustainability gardening initiative.

"My neighbours and I are deeply distressed with the proposed change in land use," says a letter submitted by resident Iris Kingston.

"Oakville has invested so much in that immediate area to make it liveable. This proposal would significantly reduce the ability of Oakville residents to enjoy the recreational space immediately adjacent to the site."

Add residential use to Trafalgar Road employment lands

Infrastructure Ontario is also asking for an Official Plan Amendment to add lucrative residential housing to land designated for employment use.

It currently owns about 53 hectares (131 acres) of land on the east and west sides of Trafalgar Road, south of Highway 407 near the carpool lot.

Commercial, institutional and employment uses – including business parks – are currently allowed on the largely vacant property.

The application seeks permission for high density mixed use development, which could result in as many as 4,000 to 5,000 residential units on the property.

In a letter submitted with the application, commercial real estate company CBRE says that the market is trending away from traditional suburban office parks and toward live/work mixed use developments that combine office, residential and supportive commercial uses.

The letter, signed by Jonathan Leary, senior vice president with CBRE, says:

"As more and more workers (especially from younger generations) demand this sort of convenience, the suburbs will fall behind downtown cores in their ability to attract these workers if appealing suburban alternatives are not available, and we believe that mixed use developments that embrace a balance of employment and residential uses are the best path forward to create such alternatives."

While allowing such mixed use developments south of Burnhamthorpe Road, Oakville’s official plan currently restricts the area between Burnhamthorpe and Highway 407 for employment use only.

Conceptual plans submitted with the Infrastructure Ontario application show 11 mixed use blocks of residential and employment use, with residential use making up between 50 and 70 per cent of the development.

The plans are simply for illustration. Future development would require additional approvals, following the intended sale of the property.

A similar application to allow residential use on business employment lands is proposed for adjacent property owned by Argo Trafalgar Corporation.