Memo to Councillors re Design Guidelines
On January 16, 2017 the Saugeen Shores Council Members met as the Town Planning Advisory Committee (PAC) to discuss the Design Guidelines that were developed and published in 2009 and largely ignored since. These Guidelines set out the way in which development should be “shaped” along the various sections of highway 21 that fall within the confines of Saugeen Shores. Southampton Residents Association (SRA) has spoken frequently requesting that these be given Council endorsement and some teeth, complaining that they have been essentially ignored while the Rexall, Mac’s and carwash were built in Southampton.
If any one wishes to read even further, or to refresh their memory regarding the content of the 2009 Guidelines they can be found in the list at http://www.saugeenshores.ca/en/our-town-hall/reports-and-publications.asp?_mid_=17040. The one referred to specifically in the following comments is Southampton Albert Street South Design Guidelines.
The following are questions from Southampton Residents Association biennial members’ survey carried out in the spring of 2016 asking what issues were important to them:
- · Guidelines for future highway development and commercial growth that require landscaping, low monument-style signage, parking at the rear of buildings, etc. to create an attractive entry to town. (Over 80% said important or very important.)
- · Zoning bylaws that seek to protect and promote businesses on High Street and prevent migration to highway locations. (Over 80% said important or very important.)
important or very important)
(Note: The entire survey results can be seen on our website at www.southamptonontario.org.)
The foregoing concern of our members was outlined in the comments I made in speaking to Council last February, and accordingly SRA is pleased that Council members (wearing their PAC hats) will be looking at the entire series of Design Guidelines that were prepared back in 2009 with extensive public input and with both Town staff and County Planning staff involvement. My understanding is that these Guidelines were never either considered or endorsed by Council and that this will be the first time Council members have had an opportunity to debate the issues.
We believe that the implication the staff Information Report that these Guidelines have been and are currently being followed is incorrect. While they perhaps have had some impact on the placement of driveways and access to developments, there is little indication that other issues covered in the Guidelines are being given any consideration. What our members are looking for are Guidelines that are endorsed by Council, formalized and enforced.
It is important to note that, in preparing these Guidelines, the Highway 21 corridor through Saugeen Shores was divided into six “distinct areas”. This division reflects, in the first place, the differing objectives of development in Port Elgin and Southampton as set out in the Official Plan – Port Elgin to become a regional commercial centre and Southampton to develop its historic tourist-based economy. This difference necessitates different zoning bylaws and developmental guidelines – one size does not fit all areas of Saugeen Shores. Many municipalities have local zoning and development guidelines for specific areas within their borders and are universally the richer for it.
As an example I would like to discuss the Southampton Albert Street South District booklet of the Design Guidelines series. I, with many others, share a disappointment that the principles espoused were not enforced when the Rexall, the Mac’s and the carwash were built. If they had been the towering freestanding signage would instead be no more than 2.5 metres high, the main entrance for Mac’s would have been facing the street, the Rexall building would have been much closer to the street with parking in the rear, and so on. More emphasis would have been placed on enhancing the Streetscape, including Active Transportation, Landscaping and Environmental matters, all as set out in this booklet.
I personally recall sitting in a meeting with Town staff approximately two years ago arguing for these provisions to be enforced and was told that “if any effort was made in that direction these developers would go to Kincardine instead”. This is manifest nonsense. There was no way the Rexall was going to abandon Southampton with its hospital, seniors residences and retirement population. Neither was Mac’s going to give up when they saw an opportunity to be the only reliable gas station in the community. All that was required was some direction from Council that these guidelines were to be formalized and enforced.
Accordingly we disagree with the suggestion that we need to embark on another round of review, inevitably occasioning additional delay. What is required is to consider what already exists and to give some direction to staff that it should be formalized and enforced for future developments.
Respectfully submitted, Jim Henning, President
Southampton Residents Association