(Above: About 100 people atttended the public meeting to share their perspective on the new Minto development. Photo by Shannon Lough.)
Over 100 residents filled the hall at Goulbourn Recreation Complex. Six City of Ottawa staff members and five representatives from Minto Homes fielded comments and concerns over the two-hour meeting.
This was the second public meeting on the subdivision planned for west of Jackson Trails, north of Hazeldean Road and east of Echowoods Avenue. Since the last meeting in June 2014, Stittsville councillor Shad Qadri says he’s heard many concerns about the development. In the last three days he’s received at least 75 emails on the subject.
“Why are we feeding all this traffic into the east side of the community?”
To ease some of the concerns, the vice president of land development at Minto Homes, Susan Murphy, presented the revised “final draft plan.” Some of the highlights include less housing density with 409 homes instead of 464, additional park space along the north and south of the Feedmill Creek, and a fourth access point from Kimpton Drive to Echowoods Avenue.
The next presentation came from David Wise, the program manager for the city. He went through how the city has tried to mitigate some of the main issues. The city investigated if a row of trees could be a viable buffer between the two communities but they found the trees wouldn’t survive.
When Wise asked who was worried about access to Hazeldean Road almost every hand in the room shot up. He assured them that from the city perspective Minto’s plans show how traffic would be accommodated to service the new development. But as soon as the floor opened for questions it was clear that traffic was still an issue.
“What was the math done to see if it’s okay?” Was the first question. Arman Matta, Minto’s transportation planner, referred to his studies and statistics on estimated traffic volume. Matta said that not everyone works 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and
“Not everyone drives at the same time on the road.”
Another resident pointed out a flaw in Minto’s visuals of the traffic plan where it shows zero pedestrians crossing at Bandelier Way during peak hours. During that time there’s a crossing guard for children going to and from school.
Qadri said he’s going to ask Minto to do the study again and see if it gives different numbers than what were presented.
There were several more questions on traffic and a few regarding safety concerns for the lack of sidewalks and children walking to school on the roads, especially with an increase in traffic. City staff responded that they haven’t gone into details of where the sidewalks will be located.
At one point there were about nine people in line waiting for a chance at the microphone. The representative of Jackson Trails Community Association, Omar Sultan, asked a few questions and offered comments for Minto to consider.
“How many other subdivisions have 1,300 homes and only two exit plans?” Sultan said. Although Minto’s revised plan now has four access roots he said the traffic really goes to Stittsville Main — the same exit for Jackson Trails.
Some people in the room said they weren’t being listened to and Wise offered the city’s perspective. “The city does not have the power to force a private landowner to build a road on private land,” he said adding that the city looks at safety and environmental concerns.
“Yes, you will be listened to in areas where the city will affect change.”
Murphy said that Minto will revise the plan to relocate the townhouses that back onto Overland Drive and they will consider adding a trail along that area. She said Minto would continue to communicate through the councillor.