Having reviewed the Upper Little River Storm Water Management EA, I see it as a progressive method to justify a less than progressive goal; the unnecessary development of Sandwich South.
The main objective is, “To ensure that urbanization of the Upper Little River Watershed can occur in a fashion that will not lead to negative impacts on the receiving systems including increased flood risk, the impairment of natural watercourse features, and would allow for future enhancement of the watercourse, stream margins and wetlands.”
Yet, development or urbanization of the watershed has yet to be approved or even shown to be acceptable to the majority of citizens. Nor has the implication of this potential development been made clear by the media.
No one has asked or answered this simple question.
Given the number of vacant buildings and lots in Windsor, is the development of Sandwich South is needed?
The Official Plan says there is a projected surplus of commercial space until 2031. Residential needs could be met through infill development or redevelopment.
Large manufacturing or employment lands might be needed on a per request basis, but no publicly stated needs have been made by any large employer other than the hospital, which could arguably be built elsewhere.
An email contained within the EA package shows the true motive for the completion of the EA.
As previously noted, the City is anxious to finalize this document so it can be presented to their Standing Committee for approval. There are currently developer within the Windsor portion of the study area that want to move into functional design as well as the mega hospital project.
Without a stated purpose for development, other than desire, the implication is that the concerns of developers and the hospital are prioritized over the concerns of the general public.
As part of the general public, I asked, “Is it not better to fix the development we already have before planning to develop anew?”
Flooding and underdevelopment are primary concerns in the established parts of the city. Is there no loyalty to current citizens and taxpayers?
I commend the plan to alleviate the flow of excess water downstream of Little River. I also appreciate the flexible design to allow phased development and construction. But overall, the plan appears to be a justification for unnecessary development.
By expanding development requiring additional storm water management, the city would be violating its own principle of optimal use of infrastructure and the provision of infrastructure in a coordinated, efficient and cost effective manner as stated in OPA 81.
My suspicion is that the storm water management plan is putting the cart before the Trojan Horse of development. The need for development has not been established, but a SWM plan to meet the needs of development presumes that approval of development is a given.