Waterdown Community Node Secondary Plan Study

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The Waterdown Community Node Secondary Plan Study will create a clear vision for how the central Waterdown area should evolve in the future, and establish policies to implement that vision. The study will help manage change and redevelopment by providing direction on the desired mix of uses, height, density, built form, and urban design within the area.

How will we use your feedback?

Feedback will be used to develop the vision for how the Waterdown core should evolve in the future, and to create specific policies and directions to implement that vision.

Project backgound

The overall population of Waterdown has been growing significantly and further growth is expected in the future. This growth will have an impact on the form and function of the Waterdown Community Node, bringing with it opportunities and challenges. Changes to the area’s transportation system, such as the planned east-west road to the north of the core, new bike lanes along major streets, and other proposed road connections, will also have impacts. In addition, there is a need to protect the heritage characteristics of the historical downtown, to provide more detailed design guidance for new development and to address concerns related to traffic and access in the area. A Secondary Plan is an important tool that can be used to help guide change.

This study is being completed in conjunction with the Waterdown Community Transportation Management Study and the Waterdown Village Built Heritage Inventory. Each of these projects will support and provide input to the Secondary Plan Study.

The Waterdown Community Node Secondary Plan Study will create a clear vision for how the central Waterdown area should evolve in the future, and establish policies to implement that vision. The study will help manage change and redevelopment by providing direction on the desired mix of uses, height, density, built form, and urban design within the area.

How will we use your feedback?

Feedback will be used to develop the vision for how the Waterdown core should evolve in the future, and to create specific policies and directions to implement that vision.

Project backgound

The overall population of Waterdown has been growing significantly and further growth is expected in the future. This growth will have an impact on the form and function of the Waterdown Community Node, bringing with it opportunities and challenges. Changes to the area’s transportation system, such as the planned east-west road to the north of the core, new bike lanes along major streets, and other proposed road connections, will also have impacts. In addition, there is a need to protect the heritage characteristics of the historical downtown, to provide more detailed design guidance for new development and to address concerns related to traffic and access in the area. A Secondary Plan is an important tool that can be used to help guide change.

This study is being completed in conjunction with the Waterdown Community Transportation Management Study and the Waterdown Village Built Heritage Inventory. Each of these projects will support and provide input to the Secondary Plan Study.

A virtual meeting was held on October 15 to provide an overview of Phase 2 of the study and answer questions.

Questions asked during the meeting

A question and answer session was held during the information meeting. Here is the list of questions asked at the meeting and the responses provided by the project team.

  1. Will we be able to view the questions of those who have posed them? Yes. At the meeting, the questions won’t be visible to protect privacy. We will take all the questions asked as part of the Q and A and will put them on the project page and into an Appendix of the public feedback report after the meeting.

  2. Will the Secondary Plan result in restrictions on residential property owners planning home façade or front yard enhancements, even if they are not a heritage property? The Secondary Plan typically has more high level policies and guidance, so it would not restrict specific things like front façade changes or landscaping for residential dwellings. Residential dwellings are typically not subject to Planning Act applications, so they wouldn’t be part of specific restrictions of that nature. However, there are some things that can be regulated through zoning, like building size or lot coverage, and there can be specific requirements for that. But in terms of changes to the look of the front of a house, that is not regulated by the Secondary Plan.

  3. While this is under consideration, what are the regulations on residential additions or alterations in the expanded heritage area? While we are doing the study there are no changes to regulations. After the cultural heritage review has been completed, we will look at those tools that are being recommended, and at that time there may be changes to regulations. There are six different areas that have been identified as cultural heritage landscapes. The regulations that will be applied to each of those areas will vary based on what has been identified as being of significance. Built heritage resources are more likely to have Ontario Heritage Act regulations, such as listing and Part 4 Designations, and Cultural Heritage Landscapes would be more likely to have Planning Act approaches applied.

  4. Can you elaborate on the interim control by-law that is in effect for the overall area? In May 2020 an interim control by-law was passed for the Secondary Plan study area. This essentially puts a hold on development while the study is going on. The interim control by-law is in place for one year until May of next year (2021), and there is a possibility that Council could extend it if the Secondary Plan study has not been completed by that time. The purpose of the by-law is to give staff a chance to consult and finish our process to determine what are the most appropriate policies for the area.

  5. In looking at the options for the updated transportation plan, it mentions the possible 4 laning of Dundas Street between Hamilton Street and the other side of Vinegar Hill. How would/will the 4 laning impact the plan for the downtown core? Specifically, with walkability. This question is addressed at the Waterdown Transportation Management Study Public Information Meeting on October 21. We are working with the transportation group and aligning our processes.

    Response from City of Hamilton Transportation Staff: Although 4 laning in Dundas through the core was an option raised in the initial stages of the study, it is not something that is recommended moving forward. This is discussed in the October 21 presentation, available online at www.hamilton.ca/waterdownTMP2019.

  6. What can be done to improve vehicle and pedestrian traffic safety along Hamilton Street? This question is directed to the Transportation meeting on October 21. However, we can speak to some of the urban design measures that have been identified. Staff and Brook McIlroy will be working closely with the transportation team as the Urban Design Guidelines come together. We heard from the community that Hamilton Street needs to be much more walkable in terms of building locations but also safer. Looking at all transportation options including cycling and walking is very important. We will be working with the transportation team as their options are finalized so we can create a plan that will make it as safe as possible.

  7. Is the interim control by-law related to development, including residential building permits? The interim control by-law is related to development. Essentially, it would prevent demolitions and new permits from being issued in the study area. It does not apply to internal work, but for things like additions or new buildings. There are some types of changes that are permitted, including: An expansion of existing buildings, to a maximum of 10% of the existing gross floor area; A change to the interior or façade of legally existing buildings or structures; The repair or restoration of any existing building to a safe condition; and The erection of a new accessory building or structure (e.g. shed).

  8. Regarding the protection of the old town in general, because of the size of the lots, there’s tremendous amount of pressure from developers to develop in town. What plans for protection are there outside of the Mill Street heritage district, not for any reno or addition that people want to put in, but for a demolition to rebuild? Is there any kind of protection that is going to go in to prevent a mismatch in the area of residential properties similar to what’s been happening in Ancaster? The presentation by Archaeological Services Inc. (ASI) identified a range of conservation tools and regulatory approaches that the city may want to consider outside of the Mill Street Heritage Conservation District within the overall area. One tool that’s used in many other municipalities is listing properties on a Municipal Heritage Register for the purposes of controlling demolition. That identifies properties that should be subject to a special kind of heritage consideration when a demolition permit is applied for.  That is a key tool that we’ve identified as effective under the Ontario Heritage Act which may be appropriate in various areas outside of the Heritage District.

    The Urban Design Guidelines are important for guiding development of new buildings or sites when they are beside existing heritage buildings or within areas with special character. This includes providing guidance on height transitions, setbacks, and built form choices. Other examples of tools that could be used are special policy areas where there might be increased direction in the Official Plan or alternatively a Heritage Conservation District like the city has elected to use in the Mill Street area.
     
  9. What type of designation and/or protections are being proposed for Sealy Park? Sealy Park was identified as a heritage landscape through the community engagement for the Waterdown Village Built Heritage Inventory that’s being conducted by the city. If you go to the Waterdown Village Built Heritage Inventory webpage at www.hamilton.ca/heritageinventory, you can see the draft recommendations for properties.  Sealy park is a candidate for inclusion in the City’s Municipal Heritage Register. We could be looking at Part 4 designation under the Ontario Heritage Act for that property as part of the heritage review.

  10. Would bylaws be introduced or enforced on businesses or landowners to ensure that their buildings "fit in" with these plans?  e.g. the gas station site at Hamilton/Dundas that has been left abandoned for years. The Secondary Plan will have policies that talk about how new buildings should fit into the surrounding area. That is something that we will be looking at and creating policy language for. The urban design guidelines will also provide more detail on meeting the vision for the node and what sort of things that we look at when new development proposals come in. That particular site already has an application that’s been draft approved for a three storey commercial building, which is in line with what we would be recommending for the area already.

  11. It is very difficult trying to get between the two plazas on the south end of Hamilton Street. It’s like playing dodgeball, going out from the Shoppers Drug Mart, trying to make a left hand turn while vehicles on the other side of the road are making left hand turns toward you trying to snake back into the Shoppers Drug Mart, let alone any pedestrians trying to cross the street. Can a pedestrian crossing be considered somewhere there to try to allow pedestrians to shop at both plazas without risking their life crossing the street?  With a pedestrian crossing there, that might slow traffic down enough so that cars themselves may be able to get back and forth between the two plazas. Brook McIlroy noted a similar experience walking in the area. They cannot speak directly to the transportation plan but understand that the design of the street was at a time when the traffic flow was a lot less. Brook McIlroy noted that they realize it’s not working well right now for vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists. With regards to the Urban Design Guidelines they are interested in improving this condition. The vision for the area is to have buildings come closer to the street as the street evolves and have commercial located right on the ground floors near the street, to over time create a great shopping area to walk to and drive to. There will be further input from the transportation study on some of the ideas for this area. This includes ideas like how to get safe crossings in place and how can we make vehicle movements safer for drivers as well as pedestrians. We will look at incorporating cycling as well because we know that there is a lot of cycling movement and desire to get between the park and all the way down to Dundas Street. It will be a matter of fusing all those ideas together.

  12. Height restrictions and view corridors were addressed (in the presentation). Three and 4 storeys will create huge shadows and darken the street significantly. What are the plans and options with regards to light studies and corridors in relation to the two listed above? When we set a maximum height, it is not a blanket permission that allows every site or every development to go up to that height.  What you can do on a site depends on a lot of factors, such as what’s around it and the size of the site. Often as part of development application processes we require shadow studies to be submitted to review shadow impacts. The urban design guidelines as well will provide some guidance for what we should evaluate when we have an application coming in. The Urban Design Guidelines will be looking at building envelopes, massing, stepbacks, and setbacks. We will look at various street conditions and what is appropriate for height of buildings and setbacks and stepbacks of those building’s forms as a way to manage and maintain access to sky views as well as sunlight on streets and open spaces. 

Meeting Recap

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