Future of Oakville’s Midtown draws a crowd Wednesday

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Published October 26, 2023 at 11:10 am

Midtown Oakville
Midtown Oakville concept

An ambitious 30-year plan to develop Midtown Oakville brought a crowd out to the Town’s South Atrium Wednesday to get updated on what is in store for the 255-acre area around the Oakville GO Station.

Plans are underway to make this currently under-developed site in the heart of town a livable, connected and mixed-use urban community that is expected to house 30,000 people and boast 17,000 jobs by 2051.

With Oakville’s population expected to double by that time, Town Council believes Midtown has the potential to offer more options for diverse and affordable housing, better connectivity to the rest of Oakville through pedestrian, cycling, and transit improvements, additional parks and open spaces, more community amenities and the enhanced servicing infrastructure that is needed to support growth.

Those ‘connections’ were one of the talking points at the public meeting, with several residents on hand voicing concerns with the limited access points into and out of the neighbourhood, creating traffic log jams and potential problems for emergency vehicles.

“If you don’t build sufficient open spaces you’re basically building a ghetto,” noted former Ward 3 Councillor Nick Hutchins.

Those concerns are being addressed by the project team, said Ray Bacquie, a senior vice-president with RJ Burnside, a Mississauga-based engineering and environmental consulting firm working on the project.

“We’ll be looking at additional connections into Midtown.”

Midtown is surrounded by a combination of natural and man-made boundaries and is bounded by QEW/Highway 403 to the north, Cornwall Road to the east, Sixteen Mile Creek to the west and Chartwell Road to the south.

The planned density – Mayor Rob Burton said it’s time the Town “grew up, not out” – was also an issue, as was funding for the project, which will paid for by developers through development charges and by taxpayers, with the exact formula still to be determined.

One speaker noted that with most costs fixed or rising, the only way to make the project affordable was to “build it faster.”

Risk was another concern, with one woman worried about developers running out of money and abandoning the projects, citing a warning from Warren Buffet that a “storm is brewing” in the financial sector.

Midtown has been identified as a major growth area for Oakville for years and will become even more important in the coming decades after the provincial government reversed a decision made last November to allow development on prime farmland in the town.

“This is an exciting step forward for the town as we look to reimagine what’s possible for Midtown Oakville,” said Burton.

Oakville has pledged to build 33,000 new homes by 2031 to meet its provincially mandated municipal housing target.

The Midtown Oakville project is now in Phase 2 with the team developing and evaluating the concepts for managing and directing growth. Phase 3 will get underway in December with draft planning policy recommendations, Midtown Oakville Transportation Plan, Stormwater Plan, and Area Servicing Plan recommendations.

With a 30 year build-out – and the residents were reminded at Wednesday’s meeting that Midtown will not be completed by 2051 – a lot of what will be in place in the community is fluid. The project team also assured residents the project will align with other guiding documents in the town, such as the Liveable Oakville Plan.

The evening includes a series of presentations to spark ideas about how Oakville can grow together, four interactive booths to answer some of the key questions, an outline of Midtown Oakville’s existing conditions (and the current vision and planning process for the project) and the moderated Q&A session.

The project team have already held three public meetings and several workshops and open houses on Midtown, as well as a separate meeting with developer industry stakeholders on September 20.

 

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