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Erin residents concerned 800-unit development will change community's foundation

'Hillsburgh, as a small quaint part of Erin, should not bear the brunt of such intense population growth before our concerns are addressed'

HILLSBURGH ‒ Erin and Hillsburgh residents don’t feel their town is ready to support the 800-unit development proposed for Trafalgar Road. 

During a public meeting Wednesday afternoon, over 50 locals came to share their concerns about housing density, parking, infrastructure, and green spaces, with 11 standing to speak directly to their peers in council chambers. 

One Hillsburgh resident, Karen DeRoy, explained that she worries the development will “change the foundation of (the) community,” asking the developers to consider letting “infrastructure catch up with development.” 

“If this subdivision is approved, I’m concerned there will be no financial contribution towards necessary infrastructure in the town,” said DeRoy. “While I acknowledge the housing crisis we are facing, I believe this particular development does not effectively address the issue.” 

Of the 799 units, proposed by Blackthorn Development Corporation, on behalf of Beachcroft Investments Inc. (Ballantry Homes), 446 lots are for single detached dwellings and 353 for townhouse dwelling units. 

“Erin is already experiencing the challenges related to growth…these changes are straining our existing infrastructure,” said DeRoy. “Hillsburgh, as a small quaint part of Erin, should not bear the brunt of such intense population growth before our concerns are addressed."

Another delegate, Ryan Denniston, agreed with DeRoy, saying that “a lot of the solutions to (his) issues is lower density.”

“I don’t think the infrastructure can handle 800+ homes,” said Denniston. “What we saw in Milton was that all the roads in rush hour traffic were absolutely jammed.”

Nick Sharpe, who moved to Erin from Guelph, asked that developers consider implementing anything that may slow down the traffic that he anticipates will take over the side streets. 

“Living on Douglas Crescent, we have no sidewalks, no curbs, nothing, it’s just a straight stretch,” said Sharpe. “I don’t see anything in the plans to keep the speed and traffic volumes down on my street anywhere.” 

And residents weren’t alone, with their councillors sharing concerns about accessibility and maintaining the town’s integrity 

“It’s a process, this is a fluid thing you know it’s not next week it’s two, three years down the road,” said Coun. Jamie Cheyne. “But bringing the pressure now on some of the upcoming issues is very important.” 

Coun. Bridget Ryan said that the meeting showed how much Erin’s residents “really value maintaining (their) heritage character.” 

“Heritage character includes buildings but it also includes 100-year-old trees,” said Ryan. “That’s what makes us unique and is going to continue to create a desirable, worthwhile place to grow and age in.” 

Municipally known as 63 and 63A Trafalgar Road within Hillsburgh, the lands attached to the proposal are 128 acres, with approximately 87 metres of broken frontage along Trafalgar Road.

The larger lots with 13.7 metre lot frontages are proposed along the northern limit of the subject lands, to “provide a transition” between the existing homes fronting Spruce Street, Douglas Crescent, and the denser development proposed within this draft plan of subdivision.

Developers will return at a future meeting to address all concerns and comments.

Isabel Buckmaster is the Local Journalism Initiative reporter for GuelphToday. LJI is a federally-funded program.

About the Author: Isabel Buckmaster, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Isabel Buckmaster covers Wellington County under the Local Journalism Initiative, which is funded by the Government of Canada
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