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A Turning Point for Intensification in Newmarket

SvN’s Newmarket Urban Centres Secondary Plan project has laid the groundwork for unprecedented high and medium-density development in the Town.

Posted with permission of the publisher of NRU Publishing Inc. Original article first appeared in Novae Res Urbis – GTHA Edition, Vol. 20, No. 33, Wednesday, August 23, 2017. Article written by Dominik Matusik.

Faced with a growing number of high-rise development applications, Newmarket is seeking to implement density bonusing guidelines to ensure developers are following a consistent community benefits framework. Ward 5 councillor Bob Kwapis told NRU that the town wants to encourage height and density, but also needs tools that ensure the community is getting something out of it.

“At this moment, there’s not as many shovels in the ground,” he says. “But we’re hoping there will be many, many more. And we just want to make sure we have the groundwork that makes sense so that developers understand that we’re flexible and we’re there to work with them. But it’s got to be a benefit to the community as well.” The need for the guidelines became evident during the creation of the Urban Centres Secondary Plan, which applies to a portion of the Yonge Street and Davis Drive corridors where virtually all of Newmarket’s high and medium-density development is planned.

“This is going to be Newmarket’s first Section 37 height and density bonusing guideline,” Kwapis says. “And I think it’s really important to [approve it]. Mainly because we have that secondary plan on the Yonge and Davis corridors and if there’s any variation from that, it is very important to make sure that we look at what the benefit to the community will be at the same time. If there’s any kind of give, it’s got to be a give and take. It’s a win-win situation that we’re looking for. We need to make sure that we’re flexible enough for the developer to do what they want to do, but at the same time we want something back from the developer.”

The guidelines will set the value of contributions developers have to make at 25 per cent of the total added land value resulting from the increased density. While many municipalities set this figure at 35 per cent, staff has opted to start at a more conservative figure, with the option of reexamining it once development ramps up. Newmarket senior policy planner Adrian Cammaert told NRU that, ever since the province identified the area around the Yonge and Davis intersection as a provincial urban growth centre in 2006, staff has been laying the foundations for intensification. “We’ve been working for many years now to try to lay the foundation for more intense forms of development,” he says. “And we’re at a point in our history now where they are coming in. To help provide the direction at a staff level, as well as at a political level, these guidelines are going to be very useful in managing these applications.”

There are currently a number of medium and high-density projects in progress, all along either Yonge Street or Davis Drive. “This is an exciting time for Newmarket,” Cammaert says. “We feel like we’re at a turning point in the town’s history regarding intensification.” Newmarket committee of the whole will consider the density bonusing guidelines at its meeting on August 28th.

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