The Trafalgar Chartwell Residents’ Association (TCRA) wants Midtown to be developed and endorses the vision for a "complete community" in the Draft Official Plan Amendment, or OPA, for Midtown. We would like to acknowledge the significant time and resources the Town of Oakville has put into preparing this.
This letter accompanies the PowerPoint presentation which will be delivered tomorrow night at the Special Planning and Development Council meeting.
This OPA, once approved, will fix the upper limits for what can be built on the developable land in Midtown. As a result, these upper limits will fix the value of the land concerned making it difficult for any future Oakville Councils and Provincial Governments to roll back these limits. Providing public green space, without having to purchase it from either developers or Crown agencies of the Provincial Government, such as Metrolinx, is paramount to the success of this new community.
We believe that the Official Plan Amendment, as currently written, will result in much greater density in Midtown Oakville than required by provincial mandates, even in the first phase up to 2031. What happens in that first phase will set the tone and character for the new community that will continue to be developed through 2051 and beyond.
In response to the OPA, it states on page A-7 that Midtown "comprises an area of approximately 103 hectares bounded by the QEW/Highway 403 to the north, Chartwell Road to the east, Cornwall Road to the south and the Sixteen Mile Creek Valley to the west". Although later in the document, the same description contains a phrase "less the" rail corridor and other Metrolinx lands, hydro lands, etc., we know that the actual developable land could be as little as 43 hectares. The TCRA believes that the OPA should define Midtown in terms of the developable hectares since the population requirement is mandated as residents or jobs per hectare. 103 hectares is misleading as it impacts density. This same misleading figure is used in item 20.3.2 on page A-10. It's simply a matter of accuracy.
We object to the use of Floor Space Index (FSI) as a guide for the size of buildings. This is partly because our members – ordinary citizens of the neighbourhood – have difficulty understanding this method of measurement, therefore do not understand what their elected representatives are approving. In addition, and most importantly, it can result in nearly limitless possibilities when it comes to massing and height. We also object to approving FSI of between 4 and 10 for the majority of the developable land in Midtown, approximately 43 hectares.
We understand that the province has limited the Municipalities' power to control growth areas like Midtown. However, we believe that the OPA should contain guidelines that reflect how Oakville can accommodate the minimum required population that the Province has mandated, without resulting in extreme population density. In light of recent Provincial edicts, removing the Municipalities’ ability to restrict building heights, FSI is the zoning tool of choice to control what can be built by developers.
The TCRA accepts the provincial targets and believes that they, while denser than anywhere else in Oakville, can be consistent with the development of a complete community, subject to defining what constitutes a complete community.
TCRA loves crunching numbers, so here are some that you may find startling:
FSI of between 4 and 10, which is what is being proposed for the majority of the developable area of Midtown which is approximately 43 hectares. This means that theoretically up to 430 hectares (4.3M sq m or 46M sq ft) of floor space could be constructed. A hectare is 10,000 sq m or 107,639 sq ft.
For example, if the average unit size was 800 sq ft, with 2.2 people per unit (Provincial figure), that equates to 126,500 people if every developer builds to the maximum FSI, without taking any FSI exemptions into account.
46,000,000 / 800 = 57,500 housing units
57,500 x 2.2 = 126,500 residents
This is without taking into account the jobs to be created in midtown. The Town assumes a 65/35 split between people and jobs, thus there would be an additional 68,100 jobs in Midtown, taking the density of Midtown to 194,600. When allocated over 43 hectares, this a density of 4,525 people and jobs per hectare.
As per 20.3.7 (h) of the OPA, limiting the floor plate to 750 sq m, will allow for a tower of 53 stories to achieve FSI of 4 on a one hectare site. This could be divided into several smaller towers, say 14, 18 and 21 stories.
(4x 10,000) / 750 = 53.333
Using FSI instead of building height limits for the Midtown density target for people and jobs has the potential to allow significantly higher density than the Province’s target of 41,200 by 2051. Human nature being what it is, the TCRA expects that many developers will choose to build to the maximum allowed on their properties. Assuming this, the potential exists for the future built-out density (people and jobs) of Midtown Oakville could approach that of Manhattan today. That would not be Livable Oakville! The TCRA strongly opposes this for Midtown Oakville.
The TCRA believes that Midtown Oakville has to offer more than the high-density areas we are already seeing in Mississauga, Vaughan, Markham, North York and the like. There is a rush by current Midtown landowners to build many, many tall towers containing as many as 70% + single bedroom, 600 sq ft, or smaller, units. We do not believe that that is how we make Oakville more attractive than these other GTA destinations.
With units of that size the target demographic would be 20 to 40 year old singles and couples with very few children. What do they require for recreation? Pubs? Night clubs? Bars? Gyms? Running, walking, biking tracks? And, most importantly, will buildings of this nature provide the much-needed housing that Midtown densification is intended to provide?