Several new builds and renovations ready for construction will likely get special exemptions to the current development moratorium in Collingwood.
Council will get one more vote to decide whether to grant building permits projects ranging from a single apartment in an existing home to a new multi-storey condominium building.
Since implementing an interim control bylaw that put a temporary pause on new development in Collingwood, the town has received more than 1,000 requests for exemptions.
The moratorium was in response to dwindling capacity at the town’s water treatment plant. Though there is still room in the plant’s output for new homes and/or businesses, there’s not enough room to meet the growth expected between now and 2025. The plant is due to be expanded by 2025 and design work has begun for the expansion plans.
To keep track of capacity, the town is measuring the remaining water by single dwelling unit (SDU), which is the amount of water needed for a single-detached home (about .75 cubic metres per day). Townhouses and apartments use less water and would be counted as a partial SDU.
According to town staff, the water treatment plant has capacity for 1,091 SDUs between now and 2025, which is about 218 SDUs per year.
The town put a formal exemption application process in place, asking developers to submit requests for a building permit exempt from the development ban. In response, the town received requests amounting to 1,473 SDUs worth of water.
Staff pared down the requests with a report to council recommending approval for 314 SDUs, which would come online and require town water over the course of the next year-and-a-half.
According to a staff report, the selection criteria favoured exemption requests for projects that include a component of affordable housing, and/or where construction could begin soon.
“Pretty much everybody who is truly ready to go has been given an exemption,” said CAO Sonya Skinner during a council committee meeting this month. “We feel that this is a good place for council to be allocating water.”
Though council supported the recommended exemption list in a committee meeting, it will have to ratify the decision at its next council meeting on Monday, July 19.
The list includes several individual homes or additions. The larger projects recommended for exemption include 89 SDUs for the Summit View subdivision, 56 SDUs for Waterstone Townhouses on Dawson Drive and Highway 26, and 87 SDUs for a new multi-storey condominium building in the Balmoral Village development.
The town has also set aside 33 SDUs for an affordable housing apartment project of its own. The details have not been finalized for this project.
Exemption recommendations currently before council account for 36 per cent of the water treatment plant’s remaining SDUs available until 2025.
“There will be other opportunities as time progresses and we get a better handle on, for example, whether a UV or other disinfection option that’s advanced at the plant might help us in the short-term,” explained Skinner during the committee meeting. “Council would be able to react to that and certainly keep more development flowing.”
In the meantime, the town has hired consultants to conduct a planning policy review to provide recommendations on how the town can improve its planning laws and policies to better allocate water and wastewater capacity.
The town has also hired a contractor to design the water treatment plant expansion. According to Skinner, the first task for the design engineers is to review possibilities for disinfection upgrades at the current plant and propose solutions to increase capacity before 2025.
The engineering consultants tasked with plant expansion design will be at the July 26 council meeting for their first appearance before council.