Brandon City Council took the first step in a long road towards developing the Black Farm property on Brandon’s North Hill on Tuesday by agreeing to spend $115,395 so a consultant can devise a secondary plan.
The proposal, prepared by Planning Alliance and Associated Engineering, won because it laid out how the development plan would integrate with future developments along the Trans-Canada Highway and the airport, as well as making the area a gateway into Brandon.
"The main element here is until we have a plan, we can’t talk about anything else," said Coun. Jeff Fawcett (Assiniboine). "We are finally getting to the point where we are going to have a plan made. We’ve had numbers thrown out there about land drainage costs and sewers but it was all based on hypotheticals. When we have a plan, we really know what we are dealing with."
Ryan Nickel, the city’s acting senior planner, said the secondary plan sets out how the land will be used, whether there will be walking paths and transit links with the rest of the city, the types of residential development and how the infrastructure will be laid out.
"Essentially, it’s a comprehensive look at a neighbourhood so that at the end of the day, people can look at this plan and know what the future makeup of not just the city-owned property but the whole area will be," Nickel said.
Nickel said approximately six months worth of work with the consultant will be required before the plan can be brought forward as a bylaw, and that public consultations will be a key part of the process. Once it moves to the bylaw development stage, it will take approximately three to four months before the plan becomes law, and even at that point, it will take years to develop the land.
Coun. Jeff Harwood (University) asked Nickel about the innovative components that made this proposal better than the other options on the table.
"When we reviewed the proposals, there were a lot of really conventional proposals being brought forward such as subdivisions you see anywhere," Nickel said.
"I think what finalized this is that the approach included not just the site itself but the airport and the potential synergies with developments north of the No. 1 Highway.
"The gateway is something the city can be proud of and we appreciated their enthusiasm for the site and share that enthusiasm."
Fawcett also asked about how the private sector-owned land can be incorporated with the city-owned land into one secondary plan.
"Is there a timeline on this? Because we’ve been talking about the Black Farm for a generation," Fawcett said.
Nickel said it was difficult to give a specific timeline, outside of the estimated six to eight months to devise a plan and three to four months to develop the bylaw.
"Obviously there are multiple private properties there, and the big piece of this plan is how different properties will transition over time," Nickel said.
If high density housing is developed on the site, at 12 dwellings per hectare, the city’s portion of the land, estimated to be 60 acres could produce 288 homes.
While he offered deference for the process that will evolve during the plan’s conception, Nickel said there will likely be a mixture of high-, mid- and low-end housing components and that they will be blended into the neighbourhood.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition September 5, 2012