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NRU on Port Whitby Secondary Plan

Posted with permission of the publisher of NRU Publishing Inc. Original article first appeared in Novae Res Urbis – GTA Edition, Vol. 18 No. 45, Wednesday, November 18, 2015.

After years of studies, Whitby council has seen what should be the final vision for a revitalized and vibrant new waterfront community on its port lands. Targeted for some of the town’s highest densities, Port Whitby will become a residential mixed-use community of 12,500 people with immediate access to the Whitby GO station.

Three documents—secondary plan, urban design guidelines and CIP—were presented at a public meeting November 9. These flow directly from the outcomes of multiple planning processes with the goal of meeting the town’s intensification targets as set out in the Growth Plan.

The 138-hectare Port Whitby is planned to grow from its current 2,000 people to a population of 12,500 by 2031. Employment growth is expected to add 3,290 jobs to the current 500. To achieve this metamorphosis the secondary plan provides for a variety of land uses, including low- and medium- density residential, high-density residential mixed use, commercial, community/institutional and major open space.

SvN (formerly planningAlliance), led the project consulting team, supported by Arup, BA Group, Dougan and Associates, Meridian Planning Consultants, The Municipal Infrastructure Group and Unterman and Associates.

SvN principal Drew Sinclair told NRU that Port Whitby is an ideal location for intensification.

“[The port] is really the focal point of the central part of South Whitby, it’s in amazing natural condition, and it’s a natural harbour that has been augmented through the installation of the breakwater and the pier… It’s set up to be accommodating for intensification, there’s lots of land available, there’s lots of soft sites available,” he said.

Another reason for intensifying the area is its proximity to the Whitby GO station on the northern end of the port lands. The area around the station is targeted for some of the highest density residential mixed-use development on the port lands. Minimum residential densities are 75 dwelling units per net hectare and the maximum are not to exceed 300 dwelling units per net hectare according to the secondary plan. Minimum building heights on the GO site are six storeys, while the maximum is 18 storeys.

“It’s also the GO station site in Whitby. As opposed to the other Durham GO sites, it sits the closest to the waterfront, within the secondary plan area, really right on the waterfront… The land owned by Metrolinx is directly adjacent to the waterfront community. So those several things suggested to focus [intensification] in that area,” he said.

Prior to the intensification work being undertaken, development applications in the area reflected a significant change from the existing single-family low-density uses.

“The densities that were being proposed in the initial applications were, in the context of what was there were fairly significant. It was tower development, which is appropriate for a site this close the GO station… From a planning point of view, because it was a dramatic difference between what was there previously and what was being proposed, it behooved [staff] to encourage a deeper level of study.

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