At its General Committee Meeting of October 10, Peterborough City Council deferred a vote on approval of “Mixed Use Corridor Urban Design Guidelines,” pending further consultations with developers, property owners, and the community at large. The Guidelines, if approved, would be used by City staff to evaluate public projects and private developments proposed for the “Mixed Use Corridors.” These include Lansdowne Street, Clonsilla Avenue, Chemong Road, Armour Road, and Water Street. The Guidelines would, in the words of Commissioner of Planning, Development and Growth Management (Acting), Michael Papadacos, put “meat on the bones” of the Official Plan, which calls for the development of dense, mixed-use neighborhoods which are walkable, cyclable, and well served by public transit.
Among the features which the Guidelines would favour in new development:
- Streets which give priority to pedestrians
- Protected cycle lanes
- Links to transit
- The preservation and reuse of existing buildings
- Use of alternative and renewable energy resources
- District energy
- Charging facilities for electric cars
- A “minimized” number of parking spaces
- Parking lots accessible by a lane or side street, and not located between the building and the sidewalk
- Protection of ecosystems and biological diversity
Development along these lines would significantly alter the Corridors, which today generally feature multiple lanes of fast-moving traffic, large parking lots surrounding big box stores or fronting malls, minimal infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists, and a lack of public space and trees.
In presenting the Guidelines to Council, city staff emphasized that they were “flexible” and, unlike the Official Plan itself, non-statutory. They would leave significant room, within the development evaluation process, for discussion and negotiation with developers.
As a tool for helping the city meet its greenhouse gas emission reduction targets, the Guidelines are imperfect, particularly in that, unlike the Green Development Standards which have been enacted by a number of other Ontario municipalities, they include no mandatory elements. Nevertheless, they set a high standard for future development, and should exert a positive influence if they are approved by Council.
A strong show of public support for the Guidelines would send Peterborough City Council, City staff, and developers an important message: that people are ready to trade “business as usual” development for something better.
An on-line public consultation session will take place from 6:30 until 8:00 on October 25. Council is planning to vote on the Guidelines in December.
More information on the Mixed-Use Corridor Urban Design Guidelines can be found at: https://www.connectptbo.ca/mixed-use-corridors-urban-design-guidelines