Creating an integrated stormwater management plan (ISMP) for Gloucester may not be the best use of resources, Township staff told council on June 12.
The recommendation comes after an April resolution from council asking for more information on water management options in the West Creek watershed. This was following a delegation from Nicomekl Enhancement Society president Jim Armstrong, who was asking for an ISMP to be made.
The Ministry of Environment requires an ISMP be created if 20 per cent of land within a watershed is developed, although a municipality can initiate one at anytime if they feel it is warranted. With 17.8 per cent of the West Creek watershed located in Gloucester, there was worry that an anticipated rezoning application from developer Beedie to convert golf course property into industrial lands may put the area over the 20 per cent threshold.
However, as staff member Meghan Lee explained, the entire Gloucester area — both developed and undeveloped — encompasses 17.8 per cent of the watershed, meaning the 20 per cent threshold cannot be reached. An ISMP is also a guiding document that provides a vision for what development will look like. As Gloucester is already almost completely built, the vision would more be for redevelopment, she said.
Lee gave several reasons why staff feel it may not be necessary to go through the ISMP process for West Creek. The cost — approximately $150,000 — and the time it takes to complete — about one to two years — would take budget and time away from other projects, she said.
And to do one for the Gloucester area only, instead of the whole watershed, would not address downstream effects.
Furthermore, a partial ISMP, which could include doing just an inventory of the area, “would have little value” as the analysis and recommendations of the later steps are what informs decision about development in the watershed, she said.
Council had also heard that Beedie may be undertaking their own ISMP for the area. Staff asked if the company would pay for one to be done, and they declined. They did say, however, that if an ISMP was part of their application and would be a cost of business, they would consider paying for it.
Coun. Petrina Arnason believes the proponent is agreeing to pay for the ISMP only as a condition of them getting a conversion of the golf course lands. She calls it “a modest payment” for what they will receive if the rezoning is approved.
Coun. Kim Richter, too, wants an ISMP created, and said it would make more sense to have one completed before Beedie develops their site. She asked if council could put a moratorium on development applications in the area until an ISMP is done.
Mark Bakken, Township CAO, said a moratorium is possible, but cautioned council about putting conditions on an application they haven’t seen yet. When the application does eventually come forward to council, they have to deliberate it with an open mind.
And regardless if an ISMP is considered, a requirement of the development will be the completion of a stormwater management plan (SWMP), which would look specifically at the site and the impacts to downstream properties, added Ramin Seifi, general manager of engineering and community development.