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Site concept plan approved by the Ontario Municipal Board.

Silvercreek work finally ready to roll

By Doug Hallett
Guelph Tribune

The former Lafarge quarry lands are finally set for development, eight years after a developer first proposed commercial building on the vacant 54-acre site.

And this means the city is getting ready to proceed with connecting the two ends of Silvercreek Parkway, which will provide a new north-south connection for drivers, as well as access to buildings
that will go up within the site.

“The road will both service the development and provide a north-south connection to general travellers,” linking Paisley Road and Waterloo Avenue, said Rajan Philips, the city’s manager of transportation, planning and development engineering.

The CN mainline tracks south of Paisley Road now separate the north and south parts of Silvercreek Parkway, and an underpass will be built beneath the tracks as part of the coming roadwork.

The $7-million cost of the underpass will be shared equally between the city and the developer, Silvercreek Guelph Developments Ltd., Philips said Tuesday.

The total cost of the roadwork for the development is estimated at about $14 million, including the underpass, he said. The city is to pay a total of $5.5 million, with the developer to pay $8.5 million.

An environmental assessment and railway approvals for the underpass and roadwork have already been obtained by the city, Philips said.

“The expectation is to go to tender early next year and start construction in the spring,” and if this happens the underpass and the Silvercreek extension will open to traffic in 2015, he said.
On Monday, city council passed a motion approving Official Plan and zoning amendments sought by the developer to allow some changes to development plans – changes that among other things could result in a supermarket being built on the site.

Bylaws formally enacting the amendments will go to council’s Dec. 16 meeting for approval, said Katie Nasswetter, a senior development planner at city hall. If an appeal period ends without any appeals to the Ontario Municipal Board, the development will be able to proceed, she said Tuesday.

A proposal for a major commercial development on the site was unveiled in late 2005, and it ended up at the OMB.

In early 2009, city council approved a settlement mediated by the OMB, which included a reduction in the amount of retail space on the site from 450,000 square feet to 245,000 square feet.

The settlement allowed one 145,000-sq.-ft. big box store to be built, with a restriction that it be either a warehouse membership club or a home improvement retail warehouse.

However, no development has occurred since then on the triangular 54-acre site east of the Hanlon Expressway, which is bordered on two sides by railway tracks.

The developer had hoped to lure Costco to the site, but Costco chose instead to build on a site near the west end Zehrs.

Also, Leon’s Furniture ended up going into a revamped Willow West Mall.

Last winter, the developer asked for changes to the development plan. These included allowing a broader range of retail uses, including a supermarket that could replace the planned large big-box store.

The changes approved by council Monday allow different building sizes than what was stipulated in the mediated settlement, as well as a wider range of commercial uses on the site. The changes also remove timing restrictions on development of the site.

The development plans also call for office space, housing and a new city park on the site.

It’s not known what supermarket company might locate there.

The developer could not be reached for comment this week.

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