Clair-Maltby Open Space System Strategy questions and answers

How do the Official Plan targets for park space apply to the Secondary Plan and are they being met?

The Official Plan sets out several objectives and policies for the City’s Open Space System. The Clair-Maltby Secondary Plan provides the opportunity to write specific policies for Clair-Maltby that considers the unique context of the area. Although the Secondary Plan policies guide the development of Clair-Maltby, the City’s Official Plan is the overarching document that if there are not specified policies, the Official Plan policies remain the guiding policy. Where the policies of the Secondary Plan are different from those in the Official Plan, the policies of the Clair-Maltby Secondary Plan prevail.

There are four different categories of park within the Official Plan: urban squares, neighbourhood parks, community parks and regional parks. Park types are differentiated largely based on: function, size, amenity and population served. The Official Plan sets out policies for each type of park some of which include targets for the amount of park space per 1000 residents the City will plan to provide.

The targets set out in the Official Plan for Neighbourhood Parks, Community Parks and Regional Parks are not intended to be applied to specific areas of the City. Rather, it is intended that the targets be applied across the entire City.

Staff have applied the city-wide targets to the Clair-Maltby Secondary Plan area and provide the following for informational purposes only. It is estimated that approximately 16,000 people will live in the area. The Official Plan sets the following city-wide targets:

  • Neighbourhood Parks: the City will maintain a minimum city-wide average rate of 0.7 ha/1000 residents.
  • Community Parks: the City will maintain a minimum city-wide average rate of 1.3 ha/1000 residents.
  • Regional Parks: the City will encourage the provision of 1.3 ha/1000 residents.

In order to meet these policies, the City would need to plan for 11.2 ha of neighbourhood park space and 20.8 ha of community park space. The City would also encourage 20.8 ha of regional park space. Based on these policies, the total amount of park space the City should plan for within the Clair-Maltby Secondary Plan area is between 32 and 52.8 ha in the form of neighbourhood, community and regional park space.

At this time, the Clair-Maltby Secondary Plan process is planning for the following Open Space System within the secondary plan area:

  • Community Park: approximately 10 ha
  • Neighbourhood Parks: approximately 8 ha
  • Moraine Ribbon: approximately 20 ha

Although the framework is slightly different, this results in approximately 38 ha of open space which is within the range outlined by the Official Plan and will result in future residents of this area having appropriate access to park space. Additionally, the moraine ribbon may be viewed as a re-interpretation of a regional park, which significantly contributes to the open space in the plan area.

How will the Open Space System deal with grading in Clair-Maltby? Will the existing topography be preserved?

The policies in the Open Space System recommend minimizing grading to the extent possible within Clair-Maltby to preserve the unique topography of the area. At the detailed park design phase community parks will be designed to incorporate the topography as feasible and use it appropriately for active and passive areas. It is likely that grading will be required to accommodate more active uses and this will be done as sensitively as possible to be compatible with any adjacent significant landform areas.

How does the Open Space System protect ground water and Guelph’s drinking water?

Groundwater monitoring has been underway since 2016. As a groundwater community, the City understands the value of integrated groundwater studies to characterize the existing functions of groundwater in supporting municipal water supplies and ecological habitat. These studies support informed decisions around land use planning. City staff continues to review groundwater monitoring results, and are using the City’s science-based models to simulate proposed development scenarios to identify, quantify and map potential impacts and mitigation strategies effectiveness for planning purposes.

The City’s groundwater flow model (Tier 3 model) was developed for source water protection purposes under the technical requirements of the Clean Water Act. Source water protection is about protecting our water quantity as well as quality, and the City is equally committed to both. The Tier 3 model is used to simulate current and future sustainability of Guelph’s drinking water system in light of expected growth and development, and climate change impacts such as drought. In short, the model helps determine the amount of water available for human uses, while making sure there is still enough left to keep wetlands, rivers, streams and lakes healthy.

Due to the specific characteristics of the Clair-Maltby area, it’s a headwater area, the hummocky terrain of the Moraine and the numerous wetlands and ponds, an integrated ground-surface water model is required for the secondary plan project. The Clair-Maltby integrated ground-surface water model builds on the Tier 3 groundwater flow model and represents additional water budget processes, natural heritage feature and land use details to support an assessment of the potential impacts on recharge to municipal aquifers, natural features and mitigation effectiveness of future development and management strategies.

The design and development of the open space system will conform to these studies and requirements to ensure continued protection of water resources.

Will the Open Space System protect and be integrated with existing natural areas and the Paris-Galt Moraine?

The City’s existing Natural Heritage System protects all known significant natural heritage and water features and ecological linkages. In addition, the Natural Heritage System recognizes the importance of the Paris-Galt Moraine and protects areas which contain areas of significant landform as part of the system. Through the Clair-Maltby Secondary plan project it is intended that direction will be provided and policies will be developed to promoted integration of the existing landform into new development.

No development and only limited types of infrastructure may be permitted within areas of significant landform contained within the Natural Heritage System subject to there being no negative impact to the feature or its functions in order to protect these areas for the long term.

For the areas of the Moraine that are outside of the Natural Heritage System, the Clair-Maltby Secondary Plan will develop additional policies and requirements to support innovative design that integrates new development into the rolling topography, while minimizing the disruption to the existing rolling landscape and its functions including those that support groundwater recharge.

The Open Space System also includes the moraine ribbon. The moraine ribbon is a unique feature of the Open Space System designed to provide a connected Open Space System that runs along the outer limits of the Natural Heritage System within the Clair-Maltby Secondary Plan area that is a compatible land use. It will create opportunities for recreation and natural appreciation, which may be viewed as a re-interpretation of a regional park. The recommended Community Park will be designed to be compatible with and support the adjacent Natural Heritage System lands.

Were existing property lines, ownership and private development plans considered in the development of the Clair-Maltby Open Space System?

Open space planning is not influenced by existing or potential future property lines, current ownership or plans for development. The City has no control over if land ownership and specific development plans will change during the life span of the plan and cannot make decisions based on assumptions. Instead, the Open Space System took a design-based approach that focuses on building a community based on the area’s specific context. The Open Space System in Clair-Maltby seeks to best meet the needs of the whole community regardless of property lines.

How does the Open Space System relate to the provision of affordable housing in the Clair-Maltby area?

The City’s Affordable Housing Strategy sets an annual city-wide 30% target for housing that is affordable with the goal of ensuring that affordable housing is included in the range and mix of housing provided for all households across the City which also applies to Clair-Maltby.

The goals and objectives of the Affordable Housing Strategy have also been incorporated into the Official Plan in Section 7.2 (Affordable Housing). These policies are intended to encourage and support the development of affordable housing throughout the City by planning for a range of housing types, forms, tenures and densities. It is good planning to ensure affordable housing is distributed throughout the secondary plan area and well integrated into all neighbourhoods. Accordingly, every developer will be required to demonstrate how they are contributing.

Implementing the City’s affordable housing target is largely achieved by designating a suitable amount of land and density for residential use, including mixed-use developments, like those found in Clair-Maltby. There is a high correlation between the City’s growth management policies and the ability to meet both growth management and affordable housing targets. Apartment and townhouse units represent the vast majority of residential units that are below the affordable benchmark price, as identified in the Affordable Housing Strategy.

All development proposals submitted to the City are evaluated to assess if they accommodate a range of housing forms that include stacked townhouses and apartment units in proximity to City amenities and can accommodate a range of incomes in order to contribute to the achievement of the affordability housing targets set for the City. This specific contribution to the affordable housing targets will be measured as the units are rented or sold. The City’s annual Affordable Housing Reports prepared over the past few years have indicated that the City has been meeting affordable housing targets.

Given the intention to ensure good distribution of affordable housing through the secondary plan area, the recommended Open Space System will provide good access to all residents. As noted earlier, the Open Space System has not taken into consideration existing property boundaries or private development concepts.

What are the benefits of co-locating stormwater capture areas and park space in the Open Space System?

Some of the benefits of co-locating parks with stormwater capture areas include:

  • opportunities for sharing facilities (parking, washroom facilities etc.);
  • an increased ability to program and design capture areas with park space to increase the perceived size of the park and provide additional passive recreation opportunities;
  • the size of a capture area may be reduced due to being adjacent to more permeable land; and
  • increased efficiencies in the maintenance of the open space.

What is the anticipated timeframe for implementation of the Open Space System?

The Open Space System will be implemented as development progresses throughout the Clair-Maltby area. It is anticipated that the full build out of the area will take 20 years or more.

How will open space, including the moraine ribbon, be acquired in Clair-Maltby from developers?

With recent changes to the Planning Act, it is likely that all or a significant portion of the Open Space System in Clair-Maltby will have to be purchased by the City.

With respect to portions of the Open Space System that may be acquired by way of dedication we can advise the following:

  • Portions of identified Active Transportation Networks within the moraine ribbon may be dedicated through future development applications if appropriately identified in the City’s Official Plan.
  • Portions of the moraine ribbon forming part of an identified municipal right-of-way may be dedicated through future development applications if appropriately identified in the City’s Official Plan.
  • Portions of the moraine ribbon which overlap with stormwater management infrastructure requirements may be dedicated to the City through future development applications.

The appropriate option for acquisition of the Open Space System would be determined at the time of development and/or acquisition.

What is the Community Benefits Charge and how will it be used for open space in Clair-Maltby?

The estimated cost of the Open Space System and the acquisition options will be developed and evaluated through the Financial Impact Assessment being completed for the Clair-Maltby Secondary Plan in its entirety. The Financial Impact Assessment will be brought forward for Council’s information and consideration prior to approval of the CMSP. This may inform amendments to the recommended Open Space System.

Funding for the purchase of the lands may come from the new community benefit charge or other municipal sources. The province has passed legislation that replaces certain development charges, parkland dedication and density bonusing revenues with a new community benefit charge. These are significant revenue streams for the City which are used to the fund growth-related park acquisition and development, recreation facilities and equipment, parking and library facilities in the long-term capital plan. There is a great degree of uncertainty around the future of these revenue streams due to the provincial development and expected consultation process of the community benefit charge regulations.

There may be fiscal impacts from these changes that cause an increase in property taxes and/or a reconsideration of the capital plan, including reducing the size and scope of projects or extending the time horizon of when the project would begin. The fiscal impacts may also result in revisiting service levels as defined in the Official Plan and Master Planning documents.

The City is actively participating in conversations with our peer municipalities and professional associations, monitoring the provincial development of the community benefit charge legislation and advocating for revenue neutrality through these changes through political channels. Staff will advise Council as soon as more information is known.

What is the role of the existing South End Community Park, which is located adjacent to the North West boundary of Clair-Maltby?

Although the South End Community Park is not with in the Clair-Maltby plan area, the surrounding context (including the South End Community Park) was a consideration in the planning for the area. Balancing the location of the Clair-Maltby Community Park and the South End Community Park was evaluated when determining a location that would provide the greatest number of resident’s access to a significant park space.

It was determined that a greater distance between the two parks is preferable in order to provide more residents park access and balance the distribution of open space in the City. Various community park locations in Clair-Maltby were evaluated and eliminated due to their close proximity to the South End Community Park.