Twenty years down the road, what will Brandon’s North Hill look like?
The city is working to develop a long-term vision for a key parcel of land, spanning approximately 160 acres between First and 18th streets, south of the Trans-Canada Highway.
"We always talk about people driving on the highway, never knowing Brandon is here," said Mayor Shari Decter Hirst. "When this development is finished, we will be to the edge of the highway and it will be obvious to people driving past, a very large, prosperous city."
The first public consultation for the North Brandon Gateway Secondary Plan was held Thursday at the Riverbank Discovery Centre.
More than 70 people were in attendance and for many it was standing-room only.
"I’m very pleased with the turnout," Decter Hirst said. "Not only is it a large crowd, but they’re from all over the city and so that means people understand that the North Hill is Brandon’s north gateway."
City planners, along with consultants from Planning Alliance were on hand to answer questions from the public. As the plan is in the very preliminary stages, no concrete ideas for the area have been laid out. The goal was first to get input from the public.
"We want to educate the public on what a secondary plan is and what we’re looking to achieve," said Ryan Nickel, the city’s acting senior planner. "The intent of this meeting is not to show people that we’ve come up with anything, but to perhaps show them the process, educate them and take some preliminary input."
Once complete, the plan will provide a comprehensive development framework for the city-owned land, including land use, road networks, active transportation and pedestrian connections, urban design and development phasing.
Anything from housing to commercial use to green space will be considered.
"I certainly think there’s going to be a mix of uses up there," Nickel said. "It’s a very unique site on the highway with the commercial and potential for some different types of residential and maybe some institutional. There’s actually a wide variety it could be."
Decter Hirst said the city would work closely with the school board and the regional health authority.
"We know the RHA is interested in looking at expanding personal care home facilities … we know in our growing multicultural community that we need pressure for perhaps additional religious facilities, recreational facilities," Decter Hirst said.
"We have 160 acres to play with … I’m really excited about getting lots of input and lots of ideas about what our community’s vision for this land will be."
The northern boundary of the secondary plan zone is the Trans-Canada Highway, while the southern reach of the zone spans to Clare Avenue, and touches land occupied by the Glendale and Monterey Estates mobile home parks and the Northern Pines Golf Course.
Some members of the public made suggestions, such as establishing a new cemetery or expanding residential areas. However, many were expecting more concrete plans.
"I think we came too soon," said George Sheach, a resident of Monterey Estates. "They basically don’t have answers for us yet."
Jay, who didn’t wish to include his last name, said it would be nice to ensure that green space will stay intact.
"I’m curious. Five years, 10 years from now we might have apartments around us instead of green grass," he said. "I’m not against the whole proposal, but it would be nice to know what’s going on."
The city and consultants are expecting to work on technical plan development in December, followed by another public consultation in January 2013. They hope to begin the city approvals process by April 2013.