The application to expand the Woodlawn/Woolwich (6&7) commercial node failed last evening on a 9-4 vote. The 6&7 application was a zoning by-law amendment to expand the uses and square footage of the site. 6&7 has proposed a 62,000 sqft expansion of the existing Wal-mart store, with 135,000 sqft of additional retail on the rest of the site. Currently, most of the site is already zoned for retail (CC-18 zoning).
A number of unanswered questions arose during the presentations – which I think contributed to the outcome of the vote. Issues included:
- do the proposed buildings have two “real” stories, or just false height?
- is the 25% energy reduction (over 2006 building standards) enough to support the Community Energy Plan?
- will there be a linkage between the Home Depot site?
- will there be any mixed use in the short-term?
- will there be an impact on the 5 other grocery stores within a 5 minute drive from the 6&7 corner?
Is there a better way to develop the site? I believe there is.
The site plan proposed in this application has some merits – greenspace, pedestrian links between buildings, transit transfer area, etc. But it has shortcomings too – stand-alone drive throughs, no link to Home Depot lands, no mixed use, etc. So what do we do now?
I sincerely hope that the 6&7 developers come back with another proposal, taking to heart the concerns voiced by the community. Southern Ontario has many excellent examples of good commercial development – take the best practices and apply them here.
We can avoid an OMB hearing if 6&7 is truly committed to providing Guelph with a model of excellence.