SBP mulling proposal to build community hub in Wiarton Meadows site


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South Bruce Peninsula council will be exploring a developer’s proposal to build its multi-purpose community hub in the planned Wiarton Meadows development at Wiarton’s south end instead of on a town-owned site on Jenny Street.

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Planning consultant John Tennant, who presented the proposal to council Tuesday, said Wiarton Meadows Inc. would contribute up to 15 acres in “the most prominent location” of the development’s “village centre” for the town hall/community hub and make cash contributions towards the project’s second phase.

After the presentation, council directed staff to review the proposal and report back on the feasibility and requirements for locating the community hub in Wiarton Meadows, planned for a 235-acre, largely vacant property on the west side of Highway 6.

Mayor Janice Jackson said nothing about the community hub proposal is a “done deal” at this point and the town now has two locations to consider.

“Obviously, it would be a huge benefit to the developer to have these amenities in the middle of their development. But the nice thing about that is we’re looking at a partnership now. They would contribute not only the land, but part of the capital cost. So, on the surface, it looks like a win-win for our town,” she said Wednesday.

“Council passed a motion to direct staff to sit down with the developers and really hash out a plan that they can bring back to council that will have all the details included so that we can make a decision on whether we will shift that whole project south of town.”

Jackson said most of the work the town has undertaken so far for the Jenny Street property, including securing potential building designs, could be transferred to the Wiarton Meadows site.

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“It’s an ideal location at the gateway to Wiarton and to have a partnership with this developer who would make these contributions to our community would be a huge benefit to everybody,” she said.

South Bruce Peninsula council voted to retain +VG Architects to undertake a space needs assessment for a new administration centre to replace the cramped, deteriorating, 53-year-old town hall in Wiarton.

It later expanded the scope of the study to a community hub feasibility study.

The town purchased a 21.6-acre property on Jenny Street, at the north end of Wiarton, for the proposed town hall/community hub.

In October, +VG Architects presented a preliminary master plan for the Jenny Street site and potential building designs for the hub. Council directed staff to proceed with the next design stage, which is to obtain schematic drawings and a more specific cost estimate for Phase 1.

Phase 1A of the project is, for now, to include a new 19,000-square-foot municipal administration building with space for community meetings, training and senior/youth programs, while Phase 1B is to include an outdoor splash pad, amphitheatre and self-contained washrooms.

Phase 2 is to include recreational facilities.

The town is now working with McQueen Galloway Associates and Aquatic Associates Consulting on a community hub feasibility study, intended to “confirm the viability, community demand, priorities and phasing of recreation and cultural facilities” at the community hub, according to the town.

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Jackson said recreational facilities ranked high by the community could be added to Phase 1.

She said about 60 people took part in a virtual community engagement session, intended to gather public feedback on the amenities residents would like to see in the hub.

An indoor pool and walking track were the most popular, she said.

The session took place Tuesday evening after Tennant made his presentation to council in the morning on the Wiarton Meadows proposal.

A 19-page document from Wiarton Meadows Inc., entitled “Merits of locating the Town of South Bruce Peninsula community hub on the Wiarton Meadows lands in the Village Centre,” is included in the agenda package for Tuesday’s meeting. It is available online for the public to see.

The document is intended “to solicit an expression of interest” from the town.

“It is proposed that mutual benefits and commitments would form the basis of a working relationship between the town and Wiarton Meadows Inc. to locate the town’s proposed community hub within the Village Centre,” it says.

The document says the developers are proposing to build Wiarton Meadows adjacent to the southern section of Gould Street.

Phase 1 is to include up to 150 residential units as well as other permitted commercial, institutional and recreational uses.

It is anticipated that Wiarton Meadows Phase 1 would be co-ordinated in conjunction with Phase 1 of the community hub project, the document says.

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The proposal says Wiarton Meadows would make cash contributions to Phase 2 of the community hub proposal in conjunction with the issuance of building permits within the development.

It says the proposal would be mutually beneficial to the town and Wiarton Meadows. For the latter, the document says the hub would “be a substantial direct benefit in close proximity to the residents of Wiarton Meadows.

“If Wiarton Meadows residents are afforded this easy access to the community hub facilities then there would be no need to duplicate some of the recreation facilities we would normally provide. It would make sense for us to contribute financially toward these facilities.”

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