Willoughby’s last neighbourhood plan is heading to the public for feedback.
The Williams Neighbourhood Plan received first and second reading from Township council on April 9, and a public hearing is expected to be held April 23.
Williams — which is the 10th and final neighbourhood in Willoughby — is bounded by 212 Street to the west, 76 Avenue to the south, 216 Street to the east and Highway 1 to the north.
According to a staff report, the neighbourhood will have “a range of lower-density, ground-oriented housing forms that are in close proximity to shopping, employment and amenities, along with numerous urban forested areas to maintain and enhance the ‘treed’ character of the Willoughby escarpment.”
When it is fully built out in the next 20 to 25 years, it will be home to 4,600 people in 1,470 residences, and provide jobs for 3,500 people.
Coun. Kim Richter, who cast the lone vote against the plan, thought council should refer it back to staff, after hearing a delegation from Hugh Carter, a representative of the Willoughby Town Centre.
Carter, who spoke just before council’s vote, said the size of the Williams commercial area — which is located six blocks away from Willoughby Town Centre at 208 Street and 80 Avenue — could harm their tenants.
He said the Williams Plan originally called for 10 to 11 acres of commercial property, and that Township staff told him it would be “right sized.”
“We were shocked to learn last Friday that I think we’d be more appropriate to term it ‘super-sized.’ We’ve gone now from 10 acres to 19 acres of commercial,” Carter said.
“We’re very concerned, our tenants are very concerned. They’re finally getting to a point now where the area has started to develop in Yorkson, and they’re getting on their feet. And now, the general consensus is, that the rug is going to be pulled out from underneath us.”
Carter said Willoughby Town Centre was designated in the Willoughby Community Plan as the central commercial focus for the Willoughby and Yorkson neighbourhoods, and that, to date, they have invested $168 million in the project. When the next phase opens this week, there will be 125,000 square feet of retail space available, with more to come, as a development permit has been submitted for the fifth phase.
“There’s another up to 400,000 square feet of potential if you include the school site on the corner, which we’ll eventually relocate. Our concern is that if this competing shopping centre goes in, they’ll take the tenants and they’ll take the sales. It’s not good,” Carter said. His consultants predict they could see anywhere from a 15 to 20 per cent reduction in sales.
Carter said he would like the opportunity for the Williams plan to be properly debated, for his consultants to present their information to council, and to review the reports from other developers so they may refute them.
Several councillors said the public hearing would be the appropriate place to do that.