Oakville’s population rose about 13% between 1996 and 2001; it is expected to jump, as a result of the Ontario Municipal Board decision to develop North Oakville, by about 75%. “Density” and “development” have become hot button terms as the town struggles to envision the impact that the influx of population will have on their community. There is an acknowledgement that urban sprawl—residential subdivisions that are planted without thought to its effect on the community’s dynamics and resources—is no longer tolerable. The New Urbanism vision for North Oakville by DZP offers a well-thought out complement of green space, work place and homes of different sizes to attract a diverse community. Many town residents, however, have misgivings about the prospect of higher density and mixed use zoning. These features are equated with urbanization and, in their eyes, the attendant undermining of community. Mayer Ann Mulvale was recently re-elected by a margin of a mere12 votes; a return that reflected the high anxiety over change. Rob Burton, challenged the incumbent mayor in the election with his “Clear the Air Coalition” campaign, giving voice to widespread displeasure over town growth.
Where do things stand now?
For the latest news on the North Oakville “secondary plan” see the press release dated February 23, 2004 announcing the presentation of the preliminary draft of North Oakville Secondary Plan (NOSP) to Council.
The Oakville Beaver “The plan, as presented by staff, outlines development that will be considerably more compact, and pedestrian and transit-friendly than typical Oakville subdivisions. It will also emphasize a mixed-use approach to development that will allow people to live, work and shop in their neighbourhoods. Key to the plan is a series of linked natural heritage areas that will preserve many of the key environmental areas in the area north of Dundas Street and south of Highway 407. ...”
Councillors peppered staff and consultants with dozens of questions during their four-hour meeting, particularly on issues involving the planned density of the development, the future of the lands owned by the provincial government, the need for an additional bridge crossing Sixteen-Mile Creek and the environmental assumptions underlying the management strategy for the natural heritage system.
Several councillors wanted to know if the 35,000 jobs intended to materialize in north Oakville could really be accommodated in the areas designated as employment lands.
... While the expectation is that North Oakville will house 55,000 people, as well as providing new employment areas, (Ward 6 Councillor) Adams said he is afraid the people will come, but the jobs might not.
Town planning director Peter Cheatley told council that the population and employment targets were set by the region, adding that he hasn’t seen any indication in meetings with regional staff that they want to see them reduced.
However, Rob Burton, who headed up the environmental group “Clear the Air Coalition” ...urged a review of the numbers. “I don’t know anybody in Oakville who wants Oakville to get bigger,” he said. “I don’t know anybody in Oakville who want you to avoid reviewing those numbers.
Arnott, Kim, The Oakville Beaver, Wednesday February 25, 2004, p.1& 6