Once Brandon’s North Hill development plan is complete, it is expected to accommodate 7,000 to 12,000 people.
The long-term vision, called the North Gateway Secondary Plan, lays out the framework for 160 acres between First and 18th streets, south of the Trans-Canada Highway.
"I think the vision for that area really sits within the name itself — the ‘Gateway’ really is the gateway to our city," said city manager Scott Hildebrand. "It’s an area of land that’s basically the first thing people see as they come in off Highway 1, and we just felt like it was time for us to set a vision and put a plan in place for future development."
The plan is a massive undertaking that includes a range of housing (multiple family, single-detached and semi detached dwellings); green space; road networks and a school.
It is expected to take two or three decades for the entire vision to come to reality.
"It’s definitely a long-term plan … it’s not something that’s going to be done in five years," Hildebrand said.
The plan also calls for mixed use areas to integrate commercial areas, retail and office space.
These areas will promote neighbourhood sustainability by providing direct access to retail, personal services and employment within walking distance of most residents," states the plan.
Clare Avenue is generally the southern boundary of the plan, with the Northern Pines Golf Course lands extending it south toward Braecrest Drive.
City council approved the North Gateway plan at Monday’s council meeting.
"I think the most important thing is just to give people a sense of direction," Hildebrand said. "It not only gives the city a sense of direction, but also gives the development community an idea of what we’d like to do there."
Ryan Nickel, the city’s acting principal planner, said it’s "impossible" to know the timeline, as it now depends on developers.
"The plan build-out could go very, very fast or very slow," he said. "The big disclaimer here is the servicing needed to achieve full build-out, and there will need to be a solution found."
The North Gateway plan will generally phase from south to north because of servicing implications.
"The main utility corridor will run down to Braecrest Drive, so that’s why the development will phase from south to north," he said. "A big piece that still needs to be finished is … how the infrastructure network will service the site, and to what extent it can service development."
Wastewater, drainage, sanitary pumping facilities and stormwater management facilities are just a few of the infrastructure aspects needed for future development.
"We know it would be an expensive undertaking, we haven’t done a detailed (infrastructure) plan, but that’s something that we would do as this process continues," Hildebrand said.
It’s expected that the plan will include four-storey apartment buildings on the outskirts of the development, while the interior will have more of a mixture of low- and medium density dwellings, such as single-family homes and semi-detached duplexes.
"It hopes to provide amenities for all residents of the North Hill, in terms of green spaces and a school when it achieves full build out, as well as allowing First Street and 18th Street to transition to more of a mixed use corridor, instead of the general commercial arterial corridors they are right now," Nickel said.
Brandon Chamber of Commerce vice-president, Todd Birkhan said council’s approval of the plan is an "important first step."
"Brandon is strongly in need of some area to develop for both commercial and residential use," Birkhan said.
"The ultimate litmus test is commercial establishments or houses being built."
Birkhan said it will be important for the city to be in consultation with individual private business, because "they’re the ones that are going to step out and invest the dollars to put these developments in place."
"We would really hope that they work with those people to make sure that this is where they think is commercially feasible and … willing to put their investment dollars into," he said. "Because otherwise it just becomes a rezoning of a bunch of property that stays empty."
Birkhan said Brandon is "bursting at the seams," so it is important to take advantage of the development opportunities.
"Let’s work with businesses, get it going because right now we have projects that are sitting waiting for that next step," he said.
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