DARRYL KNIGHT The Standard
UXBRIDGE: Councillors and numerous local residents on hand opposed in the addition of gas pumps a convenience store and coffee shop, an upcoming downtown revitalization project, recently got their first glimpse at the revised version of the proposal.
Developers presented their revised plans for the project, slated for the corner of Victoria Dr. and Brock Sr. West in downtown Uxbridge on the former Co-op property at 4 Victoria Dr., during council's meeting on the evening of Monday, Feb. 22.
The project now a separate endeavour on the west side of the train tracks at 168 Brock St. West, featuring a convenience store and coffee shop, with a proposal to include gas pumps waiting on a decision from the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority (LSRCA). The possibility of an eight-pump gas station to the project has led to backlash from local residents amid environmental concerns, as well as potential issues with traffic volume and the high volume of pedestrian traffic, in particular kids walking to-and-from school.
"There is a school in the area (Uxbridge Public School) and it's a major throughfare for kids on the west side of town walking to the high school," commented Ward 5 Councillor Gord Highet.
As well, the design of the building planned for the existing foundation of the doomed First Leaside corporate offices project has been re-imagined, with a less futuristic and more scaled-down version that developers mentioned being "more sensitive to the existing, traditional streetscape." In addition, the building is now four storeys, instead of the original plans for five.
The addition of a gas station to the project site, which is in close proximity to the Uxbridge Brook did not sit well with several members of council.
"There are so many ways it could make our town better and fit in better with what residents want. There's already lots of places in town to get those products." commented Ward 3 Councillor Dave Barton.
Regional Councillor Jack Ballinger added skeptisicim over the location. "I don't know if it's the right location for a gas station. I know you've likely done your homework, but living here, it's hard to wrap your head around."
A representative from the development group explained that traffic counts had been done that indicated very similar amounts of traffic to Toronto St., and noted that the gas station/coffee shop/ convenience store option made more economic sense than leaving the site as a parking lot.
The developer explained that his preference would be to build senior's residence buildings on the property, but that is not allowed because the area sits in a floodplain.
Township CAO Ingrid Svelnis confirmed that because of the site's location in the flood plain, housing for vulnerable portions of the population would not be permitted. In addition, Ward 2 Councillor Pat Molloy noted that a previously interested party did not proceed with a project due to the inability to offer underground parking at the former Co-op site.
As Ward 4 Councillor Fred Bryan explained, the downtown project remains on hold awaiting approval from the LSRCA over the gas station, as well as an appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board from a local resident over the inclusion of a drive-though window at the coffee shop. He added that regardless of those decisions, a convenience store and coffee shop were on their way to the property.
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