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New planning process suggested for Brookswood

A new planning process for Brookswood is running into resistance from the residents who fought a successful battle against a controversial proposal to increase housing density in the semi-rural neighbourhood.

On Monday night, one week after council decided against proceeding any further with the proposal, Councillor Bob Long convinced a majority of council to approve a second attempt using input from the lengthy public hearings on the failed plan.

Long, one of the council members who voted down the proposal to boost housing density, said the existing 1987 official community plan for the area still needs to be updated.

“This is a brand-new process,” Long said, one that would take into account the objections raised by residents, as well as addressing environmental issues such as protection of “watercourses, aquifers, trees and conservation areas …”

Several residents spoke against the idea of a new planning process at the meeting, some arguing the Township should be focussing on the Willoughby neighbourhood struggle with increased housing density before it considers approving multiple-family housing and smaller lots in Brookswood.

“What is the rush?” one resident said.

Mayor Jack Froese said the second attempt at a Brookswood update will not produce a new plan any time soon.

“Now that we’re starting over again, this falls to the bottom of the lists,” Froese said.

Councillor Michelle Sparrow noted Township staff have warned council they don’t have enough resources to develop a new plan.

“The responsible thing to do is talk about how we’re going to pay for it,” Sparrow said.

“How are we going to make room for it [on the priority list]?”

Councillor Steve Ferguson said there was no intention of reviving the just-defeated plan.

“[That plan is] dead,” Ferguson said.

“We are starting new.”

Ferguson predicted it would take “years and years” to develop another plan.

Councillor Kim Richter said in the new planning process, there should be an understanding that housing density will not be boosted.

“If we don’t clearly state that we don’t want an increase in density, we’ll get an increase in density,” Richter warned.

Richter suggested the Township poll residents to find out if they wanted a new official community plan or to keep the one they already have.

“We need to ask Brookswood, do you want to start over again?” Richter said.

That suggestion failed to win support from a majority of council.

“I don’t think 1987 is the answer,” councillor Sparrow said.

“I don’t think it’s either-or.”

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