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Expect more crowded living space in Ridgeway

Where people live, work, play, shop, drive and even catch the bus in the future in Ridgeway and Thunder Bay is the thrust of a major policy document  Town council will consider in the next couple of months.

Planning staff presented the draft Ridgeway-Thunder Bay Secondary Plan in July which, if approved in September, will be the template that guides the long-term growth and sustainability of the area.

No radical departures from the evolution residents have seen in the past decade and more are envisioned in the broad strokes, but built up areas will be more crowded, the Gorham Road commercial area will become busier, and subdivision development will slow.

Visit the Town’s website for information and to download planning documents and to comment.

Commercial activity will be restricted to where it exists now and curtailed in Thunder Bay. More apartments on Ridge Road will be encouraged, and more car-friendly businesses and possibly light industry will be allowed on Gorham Road.

No new roads are planned, but a connection between Yacht Harbor, which is a private road, and North Shore is penciled in. More firmly sketched out is a trail along the Wells Avenue road allowance.

A neighbourhood park in the area of Bertie Public School is proposed, but no proposals are made for the soon-to-be-vacant Ridgeway Crystal Beach High School. The document also notes another round of school closures may result from a school board review involving Crystal Beach, Ridgeway and Bertie Public Schools.

The plan tweaks and formalizes the Neighbourhood Plan put together in 2009 to ensure the Town’s land use and official plan policies conform to various provincial and regional policies and regulations.

The secondary plan will become part of the Town’s land-use official plan and be submitted to the Region for approval after which a round of zoning amendments will be drafted to reflect the provisions in the secondary plan.

The secondary plan shies away from high density development anywhere in the neighbourhood, such as large apartment buildings, but will encourage medium density building such as townhouses and small apartments, secondary apartments in existing homes and detached homes on smaller lots.

The emphasis is necessary to meet provincial guidelines to have 20 per cent of homes in medium density areas as opposed to the current 10 per cent in the neighbourhood now.

Medium density is defined as 25 to 75 units per hectare, which is an area 100 metres deep by 100 metres wide.

No new large subdivision plans are expected as most of the land available for that type of development has been used. However, construction is expected to be robust as approved plans come on stream.

Population and housing units are expected to increase by nearly 50 per cent to the year 2031. At the beginning of 2012, the population was estimated at 4,400 living in 2120 homes.

More people are expected to live in apartments in the downtown core which will be rezoned from commercial to “core-mixed” to allow commercial uses on the ground level and more dwellings on upper floors.

A prohibition on further automotive-related businesses will be placed on Ridge Road while drive-through businesses on Gorham Road, as well as light industrial employment opportunities, will be encouraged.

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