ERIN – Residents were visibly frustrated after they discovered their question topics were limited during a public meeting Thursday afternoon regarding a large-scale residential development proposed for Eighth Line.
While several residents did eventually come forward to share their concerns about tree removal and wildlife protection, as well as the possibility of improving the environmental footprint for the 572-unit subdivision that would span 150 acres across two properties, both staff and council were strict that the meeting focus on the current application.
This meant question subjects were limited to vegetation and tree removal or the stockpiling of topsoil on the properties.
While council also received a stack of written comments, several of which requested to be read aloud during the meeting, Mayor Michael Dehn said he didn't feel it was appropriate to share them because many didn't pertain to the report being discussed.
The comments will be included in a future report.
"This vegetation and tree removal if approved and goes forward, kind of signals the start of (this development). It's a real eye-opener," said Coun. Cathy Aylard, who later questioned how the development would coincide with the ongoing wastewater construction, especially on Sideroad 17.
According to senior planner Michelle Baya, a tree protection plan and arborist's report identifying the best trees to be removed or preserved were submitted during the application process.
She went on to explain the tree removal needs to occur before March 15 to avoid migratory bird nesting season and said they would be delayed until the fall or next available season if this timeslot is missed.
Attending the meeting alongside the applicant, representatives for developers Mattamy (Erin) Limited and Coscorp said they're trying to align their development to coincide with the town's new infrastructure and pending tree removal in the spring and additional site approvals, they're hoping to start grading the site in the fall.
Installing services in 2025, construction is anticipated to begin in 2026.
"I totally understand it's a very, very delicate balance between human needs and environmental needs and they all have to match at the same time," said Aylard. "It's just a huge area of concern."
Staff will present a recommendation report to council for consideration at a future date.
The applicants have also said they are working on subsequent planning application submissions to address the comments previously raised by the town, agencies, public and council during a public meeting in 2022.
The full urban design brief is available here.
Isabel Buckmaster is the Local Journalism Initiative reporter for GuelphToday. LJI is a federally-funded program.